Publisher’s viewpoint: At summer’s end

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We’re getting to the end of Summer. For me, it seems like an eon in time from when I returned in early March with my wife from two-month vacation, including a lengthy Pacific Ocean cruise and a few weeks exploring Australia and New Zealand.

We were lucky. The following week, a painter fixed up my home office as I attended some large association activities, including the Ottawa Construction Association’s Annual General Meeting and a day-long program co-ordinated by BECOR and Construction Specifications Canada’s Ottawa chapter about heritage restoration. We gathered in indoor meeting rooms with buffet-catered meals.

A couple of days later, the lockdown began. The N-95 masks I had purchased in January, fearing for our safety because of Australian wild fires, turned out to have an entirely different practical application.

Then, as the economic consequences of the public health crisis became apparent, I initially recoiled in fear, then relief. Our business checked all the right boxes for two key government assistance programs, the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA) and the Canada Employee Wage Subsidy (CEWS).  In fact, because we had always operated with a remote home office employee/employer model, we were perfectly equipped to weather the COVID-19 storm.

As mid-August approaches, our business will claim what is likely its final CEWS subsidy payment, relatively well-positioned for the fall and winter months ahead. However, I know the story isn’t so positive for other businesses, especially trade contractors whose business structure and payment schedules have left them outside the box for the initial support programs, and who will find the updated government assistance opportunities both complicated and bureaucratic (and probably inadequate).

I know some annual traditions won’t be as usual this fall – the Greater Ottawa Home Builders’ Association (GOHBA) Housing Design Awards Gala in October will be an online-only event this year, and the Buildings Show in Toronto will need to be much more constrained and less crowded this year if it is to happen in a real as well as virtual format.

Nevertheless, while there will be some casualties, I am optimistic that we’ll largely be out of the crisis by this time next year – and many of us can begin thinking of further overseas vacations and adventures next winter.

If you have questions or suggestions about topics explored within this month’s issues, please let me know by emailing buckshon@cnrgp.com.

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