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HRAI Updates

President's Message - July 16, 2020
It is membership renewal time and I hope you continue to find value in your relationship with HRAI. The renewal season this year has been delayed since the impact of COVID-19 has required people to focus their efforts on staying safe, caring for loved ones and figuring out what a new normal might look like. 
Over the past few weeks I have had the opportunity to speak with a number of members and while business has definitely been disrupted, many members are finding sales volumes returning to a more normalized level. I have even spoken to a couple of members who had record sales levels in June.  
Business at HRAI has been impacted as well,  we have cancelled the 2020 CMPX show, reduced staff, cancelled the Annual Business Meeting scheduled for August 2020 in Victoria and have reconfigured most of our training programs to be digitally oriented. While we have fewer people and lower costs we have not have not reduced our focus on Government Relations. We continue to maintain a very active relations agenda. Our team continues to work tirelessly on behalf of our members at all levels of government.
Over the past three months we have posted over 20 stories and articles on our efforts and their impact on the industry. HRAI was instrumental in ensuring this sector could function at least partially during the shutdown and we also pushed aggressively to ensure we would be one of the first sectors to open once the restrictions were lifted.
HRAI remains committed to its investments in government affairs, stakeholder relations, sector training and the dissemination of information that our members require.   We have been active at the national level on codes and standards files, with a focus on harmonization and ensuring that proposed building code amendments are favourable to the industry.  We have been engaged with federal leaders responsible for energy efficiency and climate change mitigation policies who now envision tying these policies to Canada’s economic recovery plans.
To improve communications we moved our newsletter to a weekly edition, increased our social media efforts on LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and created a landing page dedicated to COVID-19 news updates and information resources for the HVACR industry. 
On the education front, HRAI is ramping up for the fall training schedule.  A conscious decision was made early on in the pandemic to re-focus the first six months of the fiscal year on a virtual training delivery plan.  We have had much praise over the past two months for pivoting to this new delivery method.  We still don’t know what impacts the COVID-19 situation will have on future gatherings of people but when regions begin to re-open and activity levels return to some version of the past, HRAI will be in a position to provide needed training through a variety of delivery methods.
In addition, through the efforts of HRAI’s government relations team, we have been able to work with partners Fortis BC and Gord Cooke to develop new training to help contractors get their businesses back on track.  This training will focus on bringing confidence to contractors, their staff, and their customers to re-engage under new protocols that minimize the risk of COVID-19 transmission.  This program will launch in B.C. and will be made available in other regions in the coming weeks.
Renewal notices were sent out in early July. We do hope you are able to renew your membership this year. HRAI supports your financial well-being and we know that some of you may still be dealing with financial instability during this unusual time. For those of you who are able to renew your membership now, we encourage you to complete your renewal at your earliest convenience. We remain grateful for your support – it allows us to keep working to support you and the HVACR industry. 
For those of you that need more time, take it, your membership will remain active. Once your business returns to a more normal level, renewal can be handled then. 
If you do have questions or concerns that I should hear about, you can reach me via email at, I look forward to hearing from you.
Sandy MacLeod
President & CEO
New COVID-19 Electricity Pricing & Programs for Small Businesses
Update: Emergency Orders Extended


Emergency Orders:

The Ontario government, on June 2, extended its Declaration of Emergency under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until June 30, 2020. The declaration will allow Ontario to continue to enforce current emergency orders which have been in place since March 17. 

A full list of emergency orders can be found on the e-Laws website, under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act. Full details about Essential Services and the Provincial Reopening can be found HERE 


Electricity Pricing and new Emergency Programs:

June 1, the provincial government announced several changes regarding energy pricing and programs:

  • New COVID-19 fixed price for hydro: from June 1, 2020, until October 31, 2020, the fixed electricity price will be 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.
  • Time-of-use electricity rates are extended until October 31, 2020.

In addition, two new energy programs were announced to support consumers and small businesses, as follows:

  • $8 million for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) to provide support to businesses struggling with bill payments as a result of the outbreak; and
  • $9 million for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) to support consumers struggling to pay their energy bills during the pandemic. CEAP will provide one-time payments to consumers to help pay down any electricity bill debt incurred over the COVID 19 period. Applications will be available through local utilities in the upcoming months;
As well, the province committed to extending the Ontario Energy Board's winter disconnection ban until July 31, 2020, to ensure no one is disconnected from their natural gas or electricity service during the pandemic.
Dorothy McCabe, Government Relations Specialist,, 905-602-4700 ext 274
Update from HRAI for Ontario Members only re: COVID-19  |  May 25, 2020

Stage 1 of the province’s framework for reopening Ontario was announced on May 14. As of May 19, the province increased the amount and type of businesses and other services permitted to open or to expand their services. Importantly, all public health guidelines and safety protocols must continue to be adhered to and will be monitored. This expansion of services is permitted provided the general trend on health indicators continues.  

For the HVACR industry, there are two important changes:

Maintenance -- General maintenance, and repair services can resume and are no longer limited to “strictly necessary” maintenance.

Indoor and outdoor household services -- Private households can now employ workers on or about the premises in activities primarily concerned with the operation of the household

Full details about Essential Services and the Provincial Reopening can be found HERE

HRAI works for members during COVID-19 crisis  |  May 21, 2020

Ordinarily at this time of year, HRAI would be telling you about our numerous accomplishments over the past year representing the interests of members on a wide variety of important regulatory, legislative and government policy issues. There are certainly lots of good stories to tell, but COVID-19 has made this anything but an ordinary year.

Since March, HRAI’s government relations work has been focused primarily on assisting members in dealing with the greatest economic disruption to the global economy since the Second World War. More recently, our focus has shifted from reacting to and managing this crisis (and all the “mini-crises” that arise on a daily basis) to engaging with government on a plan for economic recovery after the worst of the pandemic subsides.

Throughout this crisis, HRAI has been there for you.


“Essential service” in the face of expected shut-downs

In the early days of the COVID crisis, HRAI focused on protecting members’ collective interests in being recognized as an “essential service” in the face of expected shut-downs of most major sectors of the economy. HRAI engaged with all provincial premiers, stating the case for including HVACR in the list of essential services and, for the most part, all provinces have followed that advice (albeit, to different degrees and not always with absolute clarity).  Where there has been a lack of clarity, and therefore uncertainty within the industry, HRAI has worked to get clarifications and has positioned the industry to be an active part of the re-opening of the economy.


Ensuring that members are properly informed of Government Support Programs 

At the federal level, HRAI monitored on a daily basis -- and tried to influence where necessary -- the rollout of government support programs for displaced workers (e.g. the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit) and for employers affected by the downturn in business activities (e.g. the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), ensuring that members are properly informed as information becomes available. The association worked diligently to obtain and share clarifications on program details (most notably via webinars and, again, through almost daily updates to the COVID-19 Resource Centre). Where programs showed gaps, HRAI communicated industry concerns to the government, with positive results (e.g. changes to CERB and CEWS).


Securing Funding to Subsidize HRAI Training for HVAC Professionals

HRAI was successful in securing financial support from the federal government for the delivery of all of its core technical training in a virtual, online setting. This initial support program was aimed only at HRAI training programs. HRAI is also working with other stakeholders to secure government funding for a broader array of industry-relevant training to ensure industry personnel is well prepared for the return to prosperity.


NEW COVID-19 Awareness Training Programs with Utilities and Government 

The association is also developing a COVID-19 Awareness training program, with the support of utilities and government, that will assist contractors and their employees in understanding their health and safety obligations under the new post-pandemic conditions, as well as protocols for engaging with customers and offering appropriate IAQ and ventilation solutions to meet new expectations in the marketplace.


What does the Road to recovery look like?

With the worst of the economic impacts (almost) behind us, HRAI turned its attention to engaging with the government on how best to re-ignite the economy in a way that balances public health concerns while ensuring a strong recovery for the industry. Most provinces have responded favourably.

The federal government remains fully committed to the promises of the 2019 election campaign and its GHG reduction targets, so there is some expectation that economic stimulus programs will include a significant emphasis on incentivizing expenditures on home energy retrofits and building upgrades with a focus on energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies.


Meeting the needs of the HVACR Industry

The federal government has also signalled that it would like to see all Provincial governments pursue similar programs (and not ruling out the option that the federal government might fill the gap where provinces fail to do so). The Ontario Government, for one, has announced an “Ontario Jobs and Recovery Committee” of ministers tasked with developing a recovery plan. HRAI is meeting with these governments and is working hard to ensure that the design, timing and rollout of stimulus programs will meet the needs of the HVACR industry.

Among other things, HRAI is collaborating with other industry groups to make constructive recommendations to government leaders. Most recently, HRAI supported an Efficiency Canada initiative to engage federal ministers and MPs via a letter-writing campaign that tied members into their local MPs.

HRAI has been there for you during the worst of this crisis, and we hope to remain by your side as we navigate the path to recovery.

We won’t be able to do it without your support.

Renewing your membership will help HRAI continue to build on the progress we’ve made.

HRAI urges Ontario Premier to Re-Open HVAC Businesses  |  May 12, 2020

HRAI Canada is working hard advocating to the provincial and federal governments on behalf of our members and the HVACR sector. 

On Monday, HRAI wrote to Premier Ford and to the Jobs and Recovery Committee requesting clarification regarding permitted activities under the current guidelines for the HVACR sector. 

HRAI strongly urged the Premier to allow HVAC contractors in Ontario to fully re-open their businesses in the next stage of re-opening of our economy, with the condition that they respect the relevant public health and safety guidelines.

Read the letter here.

For more information please contact Dorothy McCabe

Message from the HRAI Chair, Dennis Kozina  |  May 7, 2020

When I took over as Chair of HRAI, I inherited a well-managed association with a solid financial foundation, a growing membership base, growing satisfaction levels, and strong and capable association staff. While I had a few things I was hoping to accomplish during my time as chair I was expecting a relatively peaceful year. I was eager to foster relationships with other associations, to further grow membership, invest even more into Government Relations digitize our Industry education offerings and of course I was looking forward to participating in CMPX 2022.

How things have changed, we now live in unprecedented times.

Like most industries in Canada and around the world, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit the HVACR industry hard, though admittedly not as hard as other sectors like hospitality and tourism, which may never recover to past levels of activity.

To better understand the impacts of COVID-19 on the HVACR sector, HRAI issued a survey to members in April.  The survey asks about the immediate and short-term impacts of the pandemic on business operations, as well as member perspectives on future impacts. To date, we have received approximately 150 responses.

When asked about how much their business revenue has declined year-over-year as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, 70% of respondents reported a greater than 30% decline, and 23% reported a more than 70% decline.  Less than 10% of respondents reported no decline in revenue at all.  Roughly a third did not report on employee layoffs but, of those that did, almost 60% reported laying off fewer than 30% of their employees, and almost half of this group have not laid anyone off.  Almost 10% of companies reported laying off more than 80% of their employees.

Members were asked to rate on a scale from zero to 100 their level of concern about the long-term viability of their company.  The average response to this question was 52, indicating a “moderate” level of concern, but the distribution of responses shows quite a wide variation in attitudes. About 25% of members rated their level of concern below 20 on the scale, but about 22% reported a higher than 80 score and another 26 scored over 60.  Overall our members are adapting and coping well in a difficult circumstance.

HRAI remains committed to representing our sector with Government, in these difficult times, HRAI has turned its attention to engaging with the government on how best to re-ignite the economy when the time comes.  The federal government has told HRAI that it remains committed to the promises of the 2019 election campaign and its GHG reduction targets, so there is now an expectation that economic stimulus programs will include a significant emphasis on incentivizing expenditures on home energy retrofits and building upgrades with a focus on energy-efficient and low-carbon technologies.  They have also signaled that they would like to see all Provincial governments pursue similar programs (while quietly saying that the federal government might fill the gap where provinces fail to do so).  As noted above, the Ontario Government has announced its committee of ministers tasked with developing a recovery plan.  HRAI will be working hard to ensure that the design, timing and rollout of stimulus programs will meet the needs of the HVACR industry – this will be a major focus in the months ahead.

In addition to the Government Relations efforts, HRAI pivoted quickly with Training and Education efforts to deliver an expanded our array of online courses.  For those able to participate digitally, HRAI’s staff is working hard to provide opportunities to upgrade credentials and to ensure your staff has the training needed.

More than ever the HRAI team has been focused on communicating with stakeholders at all levels to ensure the needs of the HVACR sector are met. Between virtual meetings, press releases, an expanded newsletter, webinars and old fashioned phone calls HRAI is representing our members on many fronts.

I am proud to say that HRAI has shown its true value to members over the past several months, as we have collectively tried to navigate the uncharted waters that we’ve been facing as an industry.  


Dennis Kozina
HRAI Chair

Province by Province COVID-19 preventative measures being eased  |  May 15, 2020

Provinces have been releasing plans for easing restrictions that were put in place to limit the spread of COVID-19. Here is what some of the provinces have announced so far:

Newfoundland and Labrador

Newfoundland and Labrador plans to loosen some public health restrictions in a series of "alert levels" descending from five. The move to Level 4 on May 11 is to allow some medical procedures to resume as well as low-risk activities, such as golf, hunting and fishing. Low-risk businesses, including garden centres, and professional services such as law firms are to reopen at this level.

Alert Level 4 is to remain in place for at least 28 days. At Level 3, private health clinics, such as optometrists and dentists, are to be permitted to open, as well as medium-risk businesses such as clothing stores and hair salons. At Level 2, some small gatherings will be allowed, and businesses with performance spaces and gyms are to reopen. Level 1 would represent "the new normal."


Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia has eased some public health restrictions, however, directives around physical distancing and social gatherings remain in place. Trails and provincial and municipal parks can now reopen, but playground equipment will continue to be off-limits. Garden centres, nurseries and similar businesses can open, and while golf driving ranges can open, courses will remain closed. Sportfishing is permitted and people can attend boating, yacht or sailing clubs for the purpose of preparing boats for use. Drive-in religious services will be allowed, as long as people stay in their cars, they are parked two metres apart and there are no interactions between people.


Prince Edward Island

Priority non-urgent surgeries and select health-service providers, including physiotherapists, optometrists and chiropractors, resumed on May 1 under The Renew P.E.I. Together plan. The plan also allows outdoor gatherings and non-contact outdoor recreational activities of no more than five individuals from different households. But screening is to continue at points of entry into the province and all people coming into P.E.I. are required to isolate for 14 days.


New Brunswick

Premier Blaine Higgs put the first phase of his four-phase reopening plan into action on April 24. It allows limited play on golf courses as well as fishing and hunting. Two families are allowed to interact as part of a so-called "two-family bubble." Post-secondary students can return if it's deemed safe by the school, and outdoor church services can be held, if people remain in their vehicles and are two metres apart. The second phase is to see the resumption of elective surgeries and the reopening of daycares, offices, restaurants, ATV trails and seasonal campgrounds. The third phase will allow regular church services, dentistry work and reopened fitness centres. The final phase, which will probably come only after a vaccine is available, will include large gatherings.



Quebec reopened retail stores outside Montreal on Monday while those in the greater Montreal region are to reopen May 18. The province pushed back the reopening of retail stores in the greater Montreal area by one week. Lottery terminals began to reopen Monday after being shut down on March 20 with sales moving to online only. Premier Francois Legault has set May 11 as a reopening day for schools and daycares outside greater Montreal. The city is to follow suit on May 19, but attendance won't be mandatory. High schools, junior colleges and universities are to stay closed until September. Quebec's construction industry is to completely start up May 11, while manufacturing companies are to resume operations the same day with initial limits on the total number of employees who can work per shift.



Stage 1 of the province’s framework for reopening Ontario was announced on May 14. As of May 19, the province increased the amount and type of businesses and other services permitted to open or to expand their services. Importantly, all public health guidelines and safety protocols must continue to be adhered to and will be monitored. This expansion of services is permitted provided the general trend on health indicators continues.  

For the HVACR industry, there are two important changes:

  1. Maintenance: General maintenance, and repair services can resume and are no longer limited to “strictly necessary” maintenance.
  2. Indoor and outdoor household services: Private households can now employ workers on or about the premises in activities primarily concerned with the operation of the household 

Full details about Essential Services and the Provincial Reopening can be found HERE



The Saskatchewan government's five-phase plan to reopen parts of its economy started Monday with dentists, optometrists and other health professionals being allowed to resume services. Phase 1 also includes reopened golf courses and campgrounds. Phase 2 will give the green light to retail businesses and salons. Restaurants and gyms could open in Phase 3 but with limited capacity. Phase 4 could see arenas, swimming pools and playgrounds opening. In Phase 5, the province would consider lifting restrictions on the size of public gatherings.



Manitoba allowed Monday health offices, including dentists, chiropractors and physiotherapists to reopen. Retail businesses are to reopen at half occupancy as long as they can ensure physical spacing. Restaurants can reopen patios and walk-up service. Museums and libraries opened Monday, but occupancy is to be limited to 50 per cent. Playgrounds, golf courses and tennis courts are to reopen as well, along with parks and campgrounds. A second phase is to begin no earlier than June 1. That's when restaurants would be allowed to open indoor dining areas and non-contact children's sports would resume. Mass gatherings such as concerts and major sporting events will not be considered before September.



Alberta plans allowed some scheduled, non-urgent surgeries to start Monday. Service provided by dentists, physiotherapists and other medical professionals are also to be permitted. Golf courses reopened May 2, though pro shops and clubhouses remain shuttered. On May 14, retail businesses, such as clothing, furniture and bookstores, are to be allowed to reopen gradually. Cafes and restaurants with no bar service will also be allowed to run at half capacity. The second phase also includes potential kindergarten to Grade 12 classes -- with restrictions -- and the reopening of movie theatres and theatres, again, with restrictions. The third phase would see nightclubs, gyms, pools, recreation centres and arenas reopen, all with restrictions. There is no timeline for the final two phases.


British Columbia 

Phase 2  -  Mid-May onwards

Under enhanced protocols:

  • Restoration of health services
    • Re-scheduling elective surgery
  • Medically related services:
    • Dentistry, physiotherapy, registered massage therapy, and chiropractors
    • Physical therapy, speech therapy, and similar services
  • Retail sector
  • Hair salons, barbers, and other personal service establishments
  • In-person counselling
  • Restaurants, cafes, and pubs (with sufficient distancing measures)
  • Museums, art galleries, and libraries
  • Office-based worksites
  • Recreation and sports
  • Parks, beaches, and outdoor spaces
  • Child care

Phase 3  -  June to September
If transmission rates remain low or in decline, under enhanced protocols:

  • Hotels and Resorts (June 2020)
  • Parks – broader reopening, including some overnight camping (June 2020)
  • Film industry – beginning with domestic productions (June/July 2020)
  • Select entertainment – movies and symphony, but not large concerts (July 2020)
  • Post-secondary education – with mix of online and in-class (September 2020)
  • K-12 education – with only a partial return this school year (September 2020)

Phase 4  -  To be determined
Conditional on at least one of the following; wide vaccination, “community” immunity, broad successful treatments:

  • Activities requiring large gatherings, such as:
    • Conventions
    • Live audience professional sports
    • Concerts
  • International tourism

The timing of a safe restart of night clubs, casinos and bars is a more complicated consideration. As with other sectors, industry associations will be expected to develop safe operations plans, for review, that are in keeping with Public Health and Safety Guidelines, as well as WorkSafeBC.
Resources to assist businesses and sectors as they restart their activities including new Health Guidelines and Checklists are available from WorkSafeBC.

Survey exposes unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 on an important and essential service for Canadians  |  May 1, 2020

May 1st, 2020, Ottawa (Ontario) – The Heating, Refrigeration and Air Conditioning Institute of Canada (HRAI) released today the results of an industry survey which found drastic impacts on the heating, refrigeration, air conditioning and refrigeration (HVACR) industry in Canada due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The HVACR industry has been deemed an essential service by both the federal government and provincial governments across the country,” said Sandy MacLeod, President and CEO of HRAI, “and the sector has been responding as needed to the COVID-19 pandemic by continuing to service important equipment in both residential and commercial buildings.”

Despite their status as an essential service, the HRAI survey found that over 67% of HVACR companies in Canada have seen a reduction of more than 30% in year-over-year revenues since March 15th and about 27% have experienced a greater than 60% decline. Most contractors, however, have not substantially reduced their workforce. More than 60% of businesses have seen layoffs of less than 30% and almost 30% of them have done no layoffs at all.

“The majority of companies in the sector have kept their employees on board, despite losing a significant portion of their revenues. This is due in part to the need for companies to continue servicing Canadians and businesses and also due to the availability of federal government programs that have helped companies make ends meet, for which the sector is grateful” continued MacLeod.

The industry has begun discussions with different levels of government regarding the rollout of targeted programs that would stimulate economic growth and job creation by supporting energy efficiency and low-carbon upgrades to homes and buildings.  Strategic programs of this type will not only provide assistance to small businesses and homeowners across the country but will also help Canada to meet its ambitious carbon reduction goals.

As much as possible, HVACR industry members are using the downtime created by the pandemic to train workers and to prepare their businesses to be part of the economic recovery that will come, ensuring that Canadians come out of this crisis stronger than ever.

“Programs that incentivize Canadians and businesses to acquire more energy-efficient equipment will help to lower costs for energy consumers and help to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Skilled trades development will be more important than ever once we begin recovering from the pandemic. While the industry has been dramatically affected in the short term, we are ready to rebuild Canada’s economy, create employment opportunities and support climate change goals” concluded MacLeod.


Media Contact:
Kyle Larkin, HRAI Liaison
Telephone: 905-449-9077

HRAI Contact:
Martin Luymes, Vice President, Government and Stakeholder Relations
Telephone: 416-453-5899

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program  |  April 24, 2020
April 24, 2020
The federal and provincial/territorial governments announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance, a new joint program to assist #SmallBusinesses, charities and non-profits with commercial rent payments.
Highlights include:
  • Agreement to lower commercial rent by 75% for April, May and June.
  • Business owners to cover 25% of their rent,
  • Landlord and federal/provincial governments will jointly cover the remaining rent.

Full details here

Join MP Francesco Sorbara, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue for an upcoming webinar and Q & A opportunity.

Date: April 28th, 2020 
Time: 11am-12:30pm EST
Resources for Ontario Contractors and Members

HRAI has developed a COVID-19 customer service letter for Ontario-based Member Contractors to share with their customers. Feel free to modify this communication to fit your company messaging.


Essential Activities & Business Support Tracking by Province

Click the button below to view the up-to-date interactive map

**Interactive map is best viewed using Google Chrome


HRAI Update Webinars

Upcoming Webinars

New dates coming soon

Past Webinars

April 28th, 2020  |  Canada Wage Subsidy Program with special guest, Francesco Sorbara

HRAI recently conducted a survey of members on how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting their businesses.  This webinar will present the key findings from this survey, as well as some of the key messages HRAI will take from this data to government leaders.

Also joining us for this webinar will be Francesco Sorbara, Member of Parliament Vaughan-Woodbridge and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of National Revenue.  Mr. Sorbara will provide an update on federal programs to support businesses and their employees.  He will also be available for questions.

April 8th, 2020  |  Emerging HR Issues Plus How to Maneuver Federal Programs for Wage Subsidies

Many of you have been asking questions about federal programs that have been introduced recently to support small and medium businesses and their employees in dealing with the economic impacts of COVID-19.

We hosted a webinar with Federal spokesperson Francesco Sorbara. Mr. Sorbara is the Member of Parliament for Vaughan—Woodbridge (Ontario) and Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of National Revenue. He is very involved in the federal design and roll-out of programs like the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.


March 30, 2020  |  UPDATE: COVID-19 and the impact on Members and the HVACR Industry

HRAI participated in a webinar hosted by the Ontario Premier’s office with key personnel on the panel.  They provided further direction following the Premier's orders on the mandatory closure of non-essential workplaces in Ontario. They offered responses to the questions from many invited industry representatives – HRAI was one of the invited guests. 

A summary of these questions and answers will be the focus of this webinar.  We will also summarize answers to the questions HRAI has been receiving on a daily basis from our members.


March 23, 2020  |  COVID-19: Impact on HRAI Members, the HVACR Sector and HRAI Canada

In this webinar, you’ll hear how:  

HRAI is supporting its members with the evolving COVID-19 situation The federal and provincial/territorial governments have been responding to the potential impact for HRAI members



Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 and the HVACR Sector

Essential Services

Essential services and mandated business closures vary by province and territory and several have announced partial or full closures. Businesses that can operate remotely and online are encouraged to continue to do so. For detailed information on essential services by province, click the button below.


For HVACR what are we allowed to still be doing for work?

This would fall to the individual provincial jurisdictions and rulings on essential services for that province or territory. Use the link above for more info on essential services across Canada.

Financial Stimulus
What financial support is available from the Federal Government for businesses and workers?
As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, so too has the response from the federal government. Information regarding the new funding programs and financial supports continues to change and to be updated. Please continue to check back for updated information. HRAI staff are also available to provide assistance.
Workers: April 6, the federal government launched an application portal to enable Canadians facing unemployment due to the COVID-19 crisis to apply for emergency income support benefits. Through this portal, workers have access to either Employment Insurance or the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.
Apply online through your CRA My Account or over the phone at 1-800-959-2019.
Businesses: We strongly encourage members to go the federal government’s website, or to call 1-800-622-6232 to learn more about the support options available regarding:
Layoffs and Re-hiring Employees:
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy,
  • Work Share program
Reduced and Deferred Payment options: tax filings, deferrals and payment arrangements.
  • Access to Credit
  • Support Financial Stability
  • Support for Self-Employed Individuals
  • Support for Industries


Small Business Owners: For a fulsome list of questions and answers regarding various situations, please visit the Canadian Federation of Independent Business’ COVID-19 Small Business Help Centre.
CEBA: Canada Emergency Business Account

Is there an effort to assist small businesses beyond the wage subsidy, i.e., it's only of value if you are open for business. What happens to businesses that have slowed to a halt and only have a skeleton staff on? The wage subsidy is only of value if you can stay open. What about small businesses that currently can't?  Do we end up closing our doors? If a small company either a sole proprietor or a corporation with one owner/employee faces significant earnings reduction. Is there a plan for them?

  • Yes, they could apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy - 75% wage subsidy for their employees and themselves. They can also access the Canada Emergency Business Account, which will provide an interest-free loan of up to $40,000 with 25% (up to $10,000) forgivable if paid back before Dec. 31, 2022.

In the construction industry, we often invoice at startup, rough-in and finishing stages of a job. So for us in March we invoice according to our job status. Our March invoiced income looks normal but we won’t see that income for a month after that, and we don't even know if those invoices will be paid. For many of us, we will see major issues in our cash flow even though our invoicing might look normal. To indicate a 30% reduction in income is very difficult for many at this time.

  • The drop in revenue can now be compared to January and February earnings, not just year-over-year. Under this alternative approach, employers are allowed to compare their revenue using an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020. Employers can select the general year-over-year approach or this alternative approach when first applying for the CEWS, but are required to use the same approach for the entire duration of the program.

Has the $40K loan been passed and approved yet? And if not, when will this be available.

  • The $40,000 interest-free loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account is now available and you should contact your financial institution to apply. We have expanded the eligibility and now businesses with a 2019 payroll of $20,000 up until $1.5 million may apply.

When will the federal government provide actual written legislation to Wage Subsidy, and how long will it take to implement the program, is there a hard date to get this money to businesses?

  • Bill C-14, the legislation pertaining has received Royal Assent. The web-portal will be open for applications on April 27th with the first funds expected to arrive starting May 4th.

As a sole proprietor, if the owner/employee has less than $50,000 in business earnings, what support is there?

  • The individual can apply for the CEWS at the end of the month and apply for the CEBA if the payroll is above $20K.

In the case of a Small Business that is incorporated, the owner would be on the payroll. Can he also use this 75% subsidy?

  • Yes, the CEWS is available to sole-proprietors.

Can business owners only apply for the 40 K loan if it is for rent and etc.? What can the $40K loan be used for?

  • Yes, the Emergency Business Account is provided through your own financial institutions. CEBA provides much-needed credit for small businesses to pay for non-deferrable expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax, or debt service.

Can a $40,000 loan be used to pay the rest of the 25% for employees with a wage subsidy program?

  • Yes, it can be utilized to pay salaries. The loan can be used by the borrower to pay non-deferrable operating expenses of the borrower including without limitation, payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax, and regularly scheduled debt service payments.
CERB: Canada Emergency Response Benefit

I am a self-employed HVAC designer and energy auditor. My energy auditing work is on hold but my HVAC design work (~20% of my business) continues for now.  Can I apply for CERB?

  • The CERB has been adjusted to allow for individuals to earn up to $1,000 per month and still be eligible for the benefit. If one earns over $1,000 and is a sole proprietor, then the CEWS can be another option.

What if someone has already applied for CERB but now that Trudeau just announced more eligibility for the wage subsidy, the employer is willing to provide subsidy?

  • If the employee is laid off, they are able to receive the CERB. If they are re-hired, they can be covered by the CEWS but no longer receive the CERB.

If all employees who are laid off go on the CERB instead of EI, will employers be able to make SUB plan payments?

  • Those eligible for EI will receive EI, and those not eligible for EI will receive the CERB. Employees cannot choose one or another, but the $2000 per month will be paid out through the CERB.

For HVACR, if the employee has been laid off due to COVID-19 and an emergency call or job comes in, it was mentioned that they can work for free. Is this true only if the staff is on CERB, or also if they applied for EI and not the CERB?

  • The CERB now allows for an earning of up to $1000 per month while on the benefit.  EI benefits are fully preserved during the 16-week period the CERB is in effect.

As a sole proprietor and 1 employee, the employee can apply for the CERB of $500/week, but can the owner apply for the $500/week CERB?

  • If the owner is on the payroll and earning less than $1000/month due to COVID-19, they can also apply for CERB.

If you are self-employed and have a fraction of your usual income, (eg. 20-30%), is there any program they will be eligible for? So far, under this circumstance, the CERB has declined/refused the application.

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will be applicable to individuals and large corporations. CERB has been adjusted so someone making less than $1000/month can collect.

Are we able to apply for CERB if employees work less than 10 hours per week

  • Yes, if an employee earns less than $1000/month, they are now eligible for CERB.

Can employers top-up CERB payments (similar to how we top-up EI through SUB plans)?

  • No, but an individual may now earn $1000 while on CERB.  The (CEWS) wage subsidy can also be backdated to March 15th and can help pay employees. Businesses are not obligated to pay the other 25% but are strongly encouraged to do so, if possible.

Are employees eligible for CERB if they go on a reduced hour work week?

  • An individual is able to earn $1000/month while also collecting the CERB.

Do high-risk individuals qualify for CERB if they take a leave of absence to protect themselves based on pre-existing underlying medical conditions and fear of exposure at work?

  • You cannot voluntarily leave work and apply for the CERB. There are EI options that the employer and employee can explore.

What about staying at home to take care of children? Is that not a reason to leave your job and then apply for CERB?

  • If an employee is required to leave work and stay home with their children because of COVID19, yes, they are eligible for the CERB.

Will the CERB be taxable income for employees?

  • The income tax on the CERB will be taken into account during the next income tax filing season when an employee files their taxes. The employee will receive the full $2,000 with no immediate source deductions.

Our Techs have been laid off due to a shortage of work, but occasionally we have emergency service calls. If the tech completed the work would they have to claim the few hours to the CERB program?

  • You are now allowed to earn up to $1000/month while on the CERB.

Many of the companies online today have been impacted by being unable to provide their preventive maintenance services. They are, however, expected to provide emergency services. How do we get around not being able to pay employees who are claiming CERB? If the employee worked for free would they be covered for WSIB?

  • To be eligible for CERB, you must attest to not working for 14 consecutive days and earning less than $1000 during the period that you are collecting the benefit.
  • The WSIB is provincially regulated and have responded as follows:
  • In the case that a technician is being contracted to do the work and has their own covered for WSIB, they would be able to get a clearance certificate online as per usual.
  • If the technician does not have their own coverage/ is an employee of the HVAC company, they would fall under the company coverage. So long as the company is in good standing, the process would be the same as if they were operating "business as usual".
  • Account services with WSIB are up to normal capacity- if there are any questions from a specific company, they are welcome to connect directly with one of WSIB's Customer Service Representatives who are now completely operational remotely.
CEWS: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Update to the CEWS Program  |  May 15, 2020

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program will be extended until the end of August 2020. The government is considering lowering the 30% threshold. The CFIB described this as “a significant and very positive announcement.” Find the news release HERE

Would the wage subsidy of 75% be deposited to the business account directly or from employee deductions?

  • The CEWS will be deposited directly via the Canada Revenue Agency into an employer’s “My Business’ account. The web-portal will open on April 27th.

The 75% wage subsidy is available to businesses that can show a 30% reduction in revenue over the same period in 2019. That can be difficult to show/prove especially in our industry where projects span several months. What will be the proof requirements?

  • The 30% revenue reduction requirement for the first reference period of March has been amended to 15%, with a 30% requirement maintained for April and May. Employers are now allowed to compare their revenue using an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020 or against the pertinent month in March, April, or May. Employers can select the general year-over-year approach or this alternative approach when first applying for the CEWS and are required to use the same approach for the entire duration of the program. Employers can also select whether to use the accrual or cash method to calculate revenues. Also, if an employer qualifies for one period (i.e March 2020), they automatically qualify for the next period.

If an employee is not working due to an injury (currently on WSIB) but is deemed healed in the middle of this pandemic, and the employer does not have work for the employee, does the employer have to take the wage subsidy, keep the employee on payroll and pay out the 25%?

  • There is no obligation for the employer to keep the employee on. However, if they do, they would receive the 75% wage subsidy, and although it is encouraged, there is no requirement to fulfill the other 25% if they cannot.

Is the 10% wage subsidy still available if revenue is not down 30%?

  • Yes, remember that a business must have seen a 15% drop in revenue for the month of March, but the 10% wage subsidy is still available for all businesses that have less than $15 million in capital assets. Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10% of the remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. This is for small businesses (18 employees or less).

Currently, our operation is wrapping up existing jobs so we have not faced a substantial revenue downturn, but we expect this to change shortly. Are you able to apply for the 75% subsidized at any point when your revenue drops? What period do you compare it to?

  • Period 1 consists of a claiming period from March 15th to April 11th  with comparing March 2019 revenues or the average of January & February 2020.
  • Period 2 is from April 12th to May 9th with comparing April 2019 revenues or the average of January & February 2020.
  • Period 3 is from May 10th until June 6th with comparing revenues from May 2019 or January & February 2020.

Is there any direction on the 75% wage subsidy for owners that are paid salaries?

  • They would be able to receive the CEWS, as long as they attest to be meeting the reduction in revenues.
CECRA: Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program

The government has launched the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program to support small businesses experiencing financial hardship. The program can help tenants with a reduction of 75% in their rent. 

The be eligible, a small business must pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location, generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues and have experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues. If eligible, 50% of the rent will be paid by the federal and provincial government, 25% by the landlord and the remaining 25% by the tenant.

More information and the application can be found HERE

Deferred Payments

Are we able to delay HST remittance which, in our case, are due before April 30th for the 1st quarter 2020?

  • Yes, GST/HST payments due from March 31, 2020, to May 31, 2020 – are extended to June 30, 2020. All returns due during the period must be filed by June 30, 2020, and there will be no late filing penalties on returns filed by June 30, 2020.

Will monthly Source Deductions still be due on the 15th of the following month? eg. March 2020 deductions are due Apr 15th. Will this date be delayed?

  • The dates for payroll remittances remain unchanged, however, corporations filing their tax for September, October, and November 2019 year-ends are extended to June 1, 2020, with any owing taxes or installments extended to September 1, 2020.
Federal Updates

Where can I find up-to-date information from the federal government regarding COVID-19? 

HRAI advises members to continue to check the federal government’s website for up-to-date information about:

  1. Financial and Economic Support for businesses and individuals
  2. Current COVID-19 situation
  3. Travel
  4. Safety and security and
  5. Additional information
Provincial/Territorial Updates

Where can I find up-to-date information from provincial and territorial governments’ regarding COVID-19?

As the COVID-19 crisis evolves, so too has the response from the federal government. Information regarding the new funding programs and financial supports continues to change and to be updated.

Economic relief packages and supports vary across the country. HRAI has created a document that we continue to update which summarizes the information available in different provinces and territories.


How HRAI Supports its Members

How is HRAI Canada supporting members?

From the outset of this pandemic, HRAI took steps to ensure that governments across Canada understood the importance of ensuring that the HVACR sector was deemed at an essential service.


We are pleased governments responded favourably to our requests although recognize that, as the spread of this virus continues, additional restrictions and mandatory closures are possible.

In addition to these initial advocacy actions, we have hosted webinars to inform members about evolving federal and provincial funding supports and launched a COVID-19 resource section online.

Thinking beyond this crisis, HRAI continues to dialogue with senior officials at the federal government and with provincial governments across Canada to ensure that the HVACR sector is well understood and positioned to assist with the economic recovery that will come.

Servicing Clients' Homes and Businesses
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and the HVACR sector – what should I know?
Please note: Your local Public Health Unit, the provincial/territorial and federal Chief Medical Officers of Health are your best sources of information regarding appropriate COVID-19 protocols including Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).
Information regarding PPE continues to evolve.  
Governments across Canada are providing funds to help buy, procure or to make more PPE.  Some businesses have quickly re-tooled and are manufacturing PPE as well as ventilators. An example from the HVACR sector is Napoleon which has temporarily switched production from barbeques to face masks.
HRAI Canada contacted government officials to inquire regarding the availability of PPE for technicians who are continuing to operate. Primarily, any available PPE supplies are being procured for the use of healthcare staff and frontline emergency responders.
Although information about PPEs continues to evolve, generally, the information we have been provided is:
  • N95 masks are only needed and only useful when working within a 2-metre proximity of someone suspected of having COVID 19 or who has COVID 19,
  • Within a hospital setting, unless staff are within th2 e metre proximity as noted above, surgical masks are used,
  • The CMOH advises that in general people should NOT use masks if they are not typically used during your regular course of business.
  • Be aware that wearing masks can provide a false sense of security because:
    • Having a mask on your face makes you touch your face more frequently to adjust the mask.
    • Masks don’t cover your eyes and COVID-19 can be transmitted by touching your eyes.

What program should a 1-person company apply for when they are in HVAC design?

The CERB, CEWS & the CEBA are all available programs for sole proprietorships. You will have to review each program to determine eligibility requirements.

Can we wait until after June to see how our revenue ends up?

The subsidy amount for a given employee on eligible remuneration paid for the period between March 15 and June 6, 2020. The reference periods are specific March 2020, April 2020, and May 2020.

I have an employee, not only receiving payment from March 15-31, 2020, but also receive the $2000 for April 11th and on. Now we may decide to hire them back before the month is over. How do they repay the $2000 or report to repay it?

If an overpayment has occurred, the CRA or Service Canada will contact the individual. The individual can also contact their financial institution to reverse the payment. They can also visit the CRA website where instructions will be posted about how to return income if re-hired.

If the employee tests positive and the employer sends him home to self-isolate does the employer pay their wages or is it through EI?

It depends, it’s the employer’s choice. The employee can be paid via the CERB or by the employer during this period of self-isolation/self-quarantine.

It seems that the $500/week pay to people off work may be a deterrent for them to return quickly. Any suggestions on how to address this with staff?

The government recognizes that this could be an issue in some sectors, and we are exploring various options to address it. You may convey to your employees that they cannot leave the place of employment voluntarily and receive CERB payments. A person cannot collect the CERB if the employer is still operating and the employee is needed.

If an employee has been issued an ROE due to COVID-19, and a few weeks later the employer has a mass lay off due to COVID-19 before the employee’s return to work date, must the employer issue another ROE as a shortage of work (Code A) on the date employee should have been returning?

The employer should always issue an ROE, in the event that the employee needs to continue to claim EI after being on CERB. CERB does not impact the employee’s EI benefits. Please also check with the Service Canada website for any specific technical requirements.

If a company is facing 30% less revenue due to COVID-19 and the company is less than a year old, what support is there?

The government announced this week that it will allow new companies to compare revenues to the averages from January and February 2020 for all three reference periods and that the March threshold has been lowered to a 15% decrease in revenue.

As we have continued work and invoiced accordingly, we are facing increased bad debts with companies no longer operating. Is there any consideration for bad debt in any program? Is there a provision for bad debts when considering income loss qualification for the 75% wage assistance?

We understand and we are currently considering various options for these types of issues.

Other Resources - Government of Canada, Associations & Building Trades

Government of Canada Resources for travellers arriving in Canada

The Government of Canada has put in place emergency measures that require mandatory 14-day self-isolation for all persons entering Canada, even if they do not have COVID-19 symptoms. Some provinces and territories may have specific recommendations for certain groups, such as health care workers. These efforts will help contain the outbreak and limit the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

Upon return to Canada, you will be asked if you have a cough, fever or difficulty breathing. If you have any of these symptoms, you must:

  • go immediately to your place of isolation using private transportation only, such as your personal vehicle
  • isolate in a place where you will not be in contact with vulnerable people, such as older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions

If you have symptoms but do not have a place to isolate, you will be required to isolate for 14 days in a facility designated by the Chief Public Health Officer.

If you do not have symptoms, you must self-isolate for 14 days and monitor your health for cough, fever or difficulty breathing. If you develop these symptoms within 14 days:

  • continue to isolate yourself from others
  • immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and:
    • describe your symptoms and travel history
    • follow their instructions carefully
  • do not have visitors, especially older adults, or those with medical conditions who are at a higher risk of developing serious illness
  • wash your hands often with soap and warm water for 20 seconds, or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
  • cover your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing

The continued global movement of goods and people and the ongoing delivery of essential services will be important for Canada's response to COVID-19.

Consequently, an exemption to the order to self-isolate for 14 days should be provided to workers who are essential to the movement of goods and people. For example, this exemption would apply to:

  • healthy workers in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people across the border, such as truck drivers and crew on any plane, train or marine vessel crossing the border
  • healthy people who have to cross the border to go to work, including health care providers and critical infrastructure workers

Workers in these sectors should:

  • practise social distancing (maintain a distance of 2 metres from others)
  • closely self-monitor
  • self-isolate and contact their local public health authority should they exhibit any symptoms

It is recommended that employers in these sectors conduct active daily monitoring of their staff for COVID-19 symptoms (checking for cough, fever or shortness of breath).

Be aware that local public health authorities at the workers' point of destination in Canada may have specific requirements. For example, for those working in the health care sector and others who are likely to come into close contact with high-risk groups for COVID-19.

Read more here

Government of Canada Resources for Canadian Businesses

The Government of Canada is committed to providing you with the information and support you need to make informed decisions as your business navigates through these challenges.


Resources from Employment and Social Development Canada

If you are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing or you are in self-isolation or quarantine, do not visit or enter any Service Canada office. As an alternative, you may access our services online or by calling 1-800-O-Canada.


Resources from ASHRAE

ASHRAE has developed proactive guidance to help address coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) concerns with respect to the operation and maintenance of heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems. This webpage provides easily accessible resources from ASHRAE to building industry professionals.


Resources from the Canadian Federation of Independent Business

An online resource developed by CFIB for small businesses to help keep your employees safe.


Resources from the BC Building Trades

Frequently Asked Questions

Find answers to some of the most common general work and employment questions that have been asked in our sector about COVID-19.