March 2020 Newsletter

March 31, 2020 Newsletter

Message from the CEO

At most times, the last month has been uncharted and without compass.  However, there are early signs of grappling with the crisis and plotting a path for some immediate relief and while still distant…future recovery.

It was not until I had to grab something from Driving Force One this past weekend that I realised it had been 20 days since last being in the vehicle.  The month of March started fortuitously with a tourism conference.  Then at the early stage of Canada’s COVID crisis, the meetings enabled CWSAA to liaise with peer organisations and government and establish early communication channels, information portals, and materials such as best practises for restaurants during epidemics (thanks Restaurants Canada) that were shared with the ski sector.

Critical to the industry, and it remains the same for all our communities today, was the guidance of health authorities.  Their recommendations were key to ski sector response and guided industry and CWSAA’s crisis communications from the start.

The shut down of the ski industry across the continent and globe was mind boggling.  It was eclipsed by the pain of thousands of layoffs to friends and colleagues.  We are still in the midst of these challenges.  The continued uncertainly and real financial and emotional duress has placed tremendous strain on our teams.  While often unsaid, it also places burden on leadership that must continue to motivate their teams, ensure business survival, and look to the recovery.

CWSAA’s strategy for industry relief and recovery has relied on alignment with relevant partners, shaping recommendations to the various governments, and leveraging new relief efforts.  The primary concern for ski areas and suppliers of industry is the care for people, and the survival of the businesses.

CWSAA has directed many collective recommendations to the federal and multiple provincial governments, as well as made specific ski submissions and maintained ski updates to provincial working groups.  Primary focus has been placed on support tools to maintain employees, ski areas, and the many businesses, especially small and medium size, that support and supply the ski industry.

Recommendations fell into two camps:

  • Immediate: relief measures for people and business survival
  • Short/Mid term:  incentive for investment and economic stimulus

We are a long way from the end of this crisis, but we are starting to see the results of this coordinated effort as government announces relief measures in line with sector priorities.  The revised federal wage subsidy is perhaps the most significant example, with others including WCB premiums, fee deferrals and or rebates.  Measures vary by jurisdiction and a broader list is included later in this newsletter and CWSAA website.

The ski sector has voiced to government the importance of maintaining employees on payroll.  This is being recognised by all levels of government and continues to be a focus of CWSAA advocacy efforts.   The survival of suppliers to industry is equal to that of the ski areas and the necessity of both has been on the forefront of CWSAA advocacy.

The ski industry has always been optimistic as evidenced by the annual excitement for the winter ahead.    As we focus on the immediate relief efforts, the planning for recovery must also be actioned.  As an industry we look creatively and collectively to see the opportunities ahead currently hidden in the mire.  Planning for mountain biking, winter marketing, and sport development are stirring in preparation for the future period when we will again be welcoming guests to our areas.

Through it all, we give special thanks to the thousands of front line health and emergency workers that are protecting us.  As an industry and as individuals, we still have much responsibility to do our part to get through this crisis.  Each of us play a role to follow health authority guidance, flatten the curve, and help and protect our neighbours.

As always, please contact me or the team directly at any time (see contact info below).

Christopher Nicolson
President & CEO CWSAA

Federal Wage Subsidy Program

Last week the Federal Government announced the wage subsidy program will be increasing to a 75% subsidy.  While final details on this program have yet to be published, during the Monday March 30th address from Prime Minister Trudeau, the following information was provided:

  • For businesses’ with revenues decreased by at least 30% because of COVID-19
  • The number of employees will not impact eligibility.  This will apply to non-profits, as well as companies big and small (note, this is a big change from the original announcement that it will apply only to small and medium businesses).
  • The government will cover up to 75% of an employees salary on the first $58,700 that is earned. That means up to $847 a week.
  • Available up to 3 months. To be backdated to March 15, 2020.
  • Businesses are encourage to pay the remaining 25% not covered by the subsidy
  • The eligibility will be tightly monitored to ensure only eligible businesses are receiving the benefit.
  • Application details will be coming very soon.

Update April 2: More information has now been published on the Government of Canada website HERE.

More Federal Economic Response Programs & Announcements

Federal list of support for businesses include: 75% wage subsidy program, Work Sharing program amendments, access to credit, avoiding layoffs, income taxes, flexibility for businesses filing taxes, GST/HST Remittance Deferral, deferral of national park commercial lease payments.

Federal list of individual/worker benefits, includes: Canada Child Benefit, GST credit, Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Provincial Economic Response Programs & Announcements


Alberta support for businesses currently includes: payment deferrals, such as: corporate income tax, education property tax, WCB premiums deferral and reduction for those eligible, Alberta Tourism Levy, loans and lines of credit and utility payments.

Alberta support for individuals/workers currently includes: the Emergency isolation support payment.


British Columbia 

BC support for businesses currently includes:  tax payment deferrals, such as Employer health tax, Provincial sales tax (including MRDT), Carbon tax, Motor fuel tax, Tobacco tax. As well as WorkSafeBC Premiums deferred, and COR rebates.

BC support for individuals/workers includes: the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers, Climate Action Tax Credit.



Manitoba Support for Business & Individuals includes Tax Filing Deadline Extensions.



Saskatchewan support for Business includes: PST and Crown utility deferrals.

Saskatchewan support for Individuals includes the Self-Isolation Support Program.



Yukon support for business includes: Paid Sick leave rebate, Worker’s Compensation payment deferrals, and increase to Tourism marketing coop fund.

CWSAA is here for you!

The CWSAA team is working from home to ensure social and physical distancing!  Please continue to reach out to us during this time for support.


Christopher Nicolson CEO [email protected] 778-257-4155
Dawn Sleiman Office Manager [email protected] 778-484-5535 (office line is forwarded to Dawn 8am to 3pm).
Cynthia Thomas Communications Manager [email protected] 250-878-8124
Bruno Graziotto Accounting [email protected]

Skier visits

CWSAA will be sending an email to request skier visit and competitor pass usage numbers from ski areas.  Over the past few weeks, CWSAA has purposefully avoided making any ask of members as all deal with the current crisis.  However skier visit numbers and answers to two other questions related to the losses of our industry are vital to our communication with government and efforts to secure relief measures for ski areas and industry suppliers.  Thank you in advance for your cooperation and support.

For questions or submissions on skier visits, please contact Cynthia: [email protected]

HR Webinars & Resources

The HR Committee has uncovered two great resources for HR leaders, that have information specific to COVID-19 and leading in times of crisis.


CPHR Alberta:

Places & Faces

In addition to managing their own businesses, the CWSAA Executive, Board of Directors, and Committee chairs have been active and engaged in guiding CWSAA and supporting its members during the COVID crisis.  When you next speak to one of them, please thank them for their dedication.

A special thank you to the many committee members and presenters that had put hours of volunteer time into creating content for the Spring Conference for the benefit of CWSAA members.

Thanks to Dave Riley for his proactive work to advance ski area critical services such as water and wastewater management, erosion control, infrastructure maintenance, fire and first responders, and security to government for their inclusion in essential service criteria.

Helen Davies (Sun Peaks) chairs the CWSAA HR committee and amid all the chaos has organised committee calls to connect with ski industry peers and share best practices.

The Canada West Way in action.   Bob Bell formally joined the CWSAA team this year to assemble the full operations and maintenance spring conference content.  He put in countless hours of planning and organizing.  True to form, Bob donated the honorarium to the Small Areas Assistance Fund.

Upcoming Events

  • Sept 28 -29, 2020 – CWSAA ASM Fall Division Meeting, Snow Valley Ski Resort Edmonton, AB
  • October 4-9, 2020 – International Snow Science Workshop, Fernie BC
  • October 6-8, 2020 – CWSAA BC-Y Fall Division Meeting, Sun Peaks Grand Hotel & Conference Centre, BC
  • October 25-26, 2020 – SSAOA Fall Meeting, Falcon Ridge, Manitoba
  • April 27-29, 2021 – CWSAA Spring Conference, Lake Louise Alberta

Check out the Industry Events Calendar HERE for more details.