11 Nov 2020

Hard hit by the pandemic, organizations in the tourism, leisure and culture industries have had to revise their business plans and seek financial assistance.

A number of financial aid programs are available to help Quebec organizations get through the crisis and plan their reopening—and more relief measures are on the way from the government and regional agencies.

Where to start?

There are more than 20 programs available to help cultural, sports and tourism organizations stay afloat and plan for the future. Additional opportunities could surface in the coming months. But since each program has specific requirements and eligibility criteria, it can be hard to navigate them all.

How can you be sure you’re taking full advantage of available relief programs?

The key is to prepare a strong application so that government analysts can process your file quickly. You should:

  • Provide a financial snapshot that lays out actual and future losses;
  • Include a revised business plan that is both concise and convincing;
  • Demonstrate that your business is viable.

How to prepare a good case?

Funding agencies are currently receiving 10 times more applications than available subsidies. This means businesses and organizations need a strong application if they want to be selected.

Before you start filling out forms, take the time to review the eligibility criteria. You want to have the right information on hand and provide the best possible answers to their questions. A carefully crafted application will increase your chances of receiving a fast response and getting approved.

Preparing applications for financial relief programs can be complicated and time-consuming for managers who are already busy dealing with the impact of COVID-19.

Our tourism, leisure and culture team is familiar with all currently available relief programs, as well as their specific eligibility criteria, and the key issues in various sectors and regions. Contact our experts. We’re here to help.

Here are some of the programs available to help you weather the pandemic and prepare your post-COVID plan.

Federal programs

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) provides assistance to Quebec businesses and organizations that need immediate assistance with their cashflow. The initiative is intended for all economic industries and has an envelope of more than $280 million for Quebec. Find out more about the RRRF on the Canada Economic Development website.

Support for Quebec’s women entrepreneurs

More than $10 million in capital is available to help women entrepreneurs in Quebec get the support they need to affirm their presence, grow their businesses and prepare for the future. Find out more about support for women on the Canada Economic Development website.


Provincial programs

Ministère du Tourisme

Financial aid for festivals and tourism events

Every year, more than $20 million is available in subsidies for the tourism industry. Read more about the subsidies.

Entente de partenariat régional en tourisme (EPRT)

This agreement helps small and medium-sized businesses in the tourism sector meet new health and safety criteria. It also provides support to joint initiatives aimed at adapting or revitalizing the tourist attractions in the wake of the pandemic. Read more about this program.

Entente de développement numérique des entreprises touristiques (EDNET)

This agreement enables regional tourism associations to help local businesses develop digital sales and address related obstacles. Read more about the EDNET agreement.

Programme d’accessibilité des établissements touristiques (PAET)

This program was created to help the operators of tourist accommodations, tourist attractions, tourist information centres and other service providers to make their facilities accessible for people with disabilities. Read more about this program.

Investissement Québec programs

Concerted temporary action program for businesses

Known by the French acronym PACTE, this new relief program provides ad hoc financial support to businesses experiencing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Some $446 million has been earmarked for accommodations and tourist attractions.

The program has also introduced special assistance for businesses located in red zones through a provision called Aide aux entreprises en régions en alerte maximale (AERAM). This aid is specifically for businesses that have been forced to close due to lockdown restrictions.

Read more about the eligibility criteria on the Investissement Québec page.

PADAT: Program supporting the development of tourist attractions – Part 2

This program provides funds to ageing hotels so that they can update their facilities before the tourism industry reopens. Qualifying works can either be renovations or standard-compliance upgrades. Read more information about the PADAT program.

Joint Initiative with Tourisme Québec

Fonds de développement des entreprises touristiques (FDET)

This fund provides financing to projects that promise to enhance the tourism offer. Eligible projects must attract new customer segments and prolong business’ operating times or seasons. Loans of $50,000 to $500,000 are available to startups as well as existing small and medium-sized businesses. Read more about the fund.

Société de développement des entreprises culturelles (SODEC)

Aide temporaire aux lieux de diffusion

This program provides ad hoc support for the maintenance of concert or variety show venues across Quebec. With a maximum budget of $6 million, the program was created as part of the Quebec government’s measures to revive live show activities.


Leisure program

Several financing programs are available for the recreation and leisure sector.

For more information, see the list of financing programs on the Association québécoise du loisir municipal website.

We also encourage you to read our support measures for businesses page. It summarizes the various COVID-19 relief programs available. This page is updated regularly.

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29 Oct 2020

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton’s Corporate Finance team is pleased to announce the successful sale of Alasko Foods Inc. to Groupe Commensal Inc.

Founded in 1989 and based in Montréal, Quebec, Alasko Foods Inc. (“Alasko”) is a leader in commercializing high quality organic and conventional quick-frozen fruits and vegetables, with products sold in Canada and the United States as well as Europe, Asia and the Middle East. Alasko’s strong reputation for providing superior products and world-class service to its customers makes it a premier partner of industry leaders. Alasko is a turnkey solutions provider across multiple channels, with an extensive track record of serving blue chip retail, food service and industrial customers.

Alasko called on the expertise of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton’s Corporate Finance team to advise on the sale process.

Groupe Commensal Inc. (“Commensal”), specialized in food processing, has been a pioneer in the vegan and vegetarian retail and food service market for over 40 years. Founded in 1977, the company’s mission has always been to develop product lines that are vegan and vegetarian, locally Canadian and better for you.

Raymond Chabot Grant Thorton tombstone banner

Alasko Foods is acquired by Groupe Commensal.

Its products can be found in more than 1,000 supermarkets and specialty shops across Quebec. Its commitment has always been to develop high quality products at affordable price points, helping more families eat healthy.

Over the years, Commensal has branded over 50 retail products like soups, sauces, ready-to-eat meals and ready-to-cook vegan proteins, and has been a large contributor to the development of the wellness food sector in Canada.

“The new acquisition by the Commensal team will allow Alasko, one of the largest frozen fruit and vegetable importers in Canada, to have active owners that care about their clients and focus on key deliverables. We ensure the confidence that clients and suppliers alike demand”, says George Kyres, President of Groupe Commensal. “Our pledge is to scour the globe to source the best available frozen fruits and vegetables and collaborate with those that share our passion for quality. On behalf of the team, we would like to thank our suppliers and our clients for their patience as we finalized the change in ownership. We remain humbled by all the love and support that everyone has demonstrated to us and for that we remain eternally grateful.”

To learn more about how Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton can help meet the needs of your business, please contact our deal team.

About Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Our leading mid-market focused financial advisory team provides sector-specific advice on mergers, acquisitions and divestitures, debt and equity capital markets. We bring deep industry knowledge to each transaction to support our clients’ corporate finance strategies and priorities.

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is a Canadian leader in the areas of assurance, tax, advisory services and business recovery and reorganization. Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is Quebec’s leading professional services firm with more than 2,800 employees. As a member firm of the Grant Thornton International network and together with its Canadian counterpart Grant Thornton LLP, the firm is a member of one of the world’s largest professional services network made up of 56,000 people in over 140 countries.

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27 Oct 2020

Cybersecurity Month: VARS urges SMEs to strengthen their information security

“Investing in information security is no longer optional. It has become essential for keeping businesses competitive and ensuring their long-term viability.”

– Guillaume Caron, President and CEO, VARS

Montreal, October 27, 2020 – VARS, a division of Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton, is capitalizing on Cybersecurity Awareness Month to urge businesses to step up their security with sophisticated solutions that are tailored to their needs.

According to VMware, 99% of Canadian companies have reported an increase in cyber attacks over the past 12 months and the trend is unlikely to subside, especially now that businesses have shifted their activities online1. Businesses need to update their strategies to ensure protection of their data and systems.

“Cybersecurity isn’t optional. It’s a necessary investment that all businesses, particularly small and medium-sized enterprises, should make urgently2,” said Guillaume Caron, President and CEO at VARS.

Reducing risk

The pandemic has catapulted telework to the fore and work-from-home arrangements are here to stay. The use of personal devices and unsecured computers, even for temporary periods, can leave the door wide open for hackers. With the sharp rise in phishing scams and ransomware attacks, growing volumes of accesses to manage, and employees increasingly exchanging sensitive information electronically without proper security controls in place, risks are running high for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Consumer confidence hinges on security

Strong business relationships have always been based on trust and information security has become an important part of the equation. Organizations that uphold industry best practices and align with international information security standards—such as those set out by ISO, the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Center for Internet Security—have a competitive advantage over businesses that don’t. Moreover, major corporations and government agencies are continually raising the bar for their third-party suppliers, most often small and mid-size businesses, forcing them to meet increasingly stringent security requirements in order to protect their own information security systems.

VARS innovations: Monitoring and detection at all levels and vCISOs

Traditional security solutions like anti-virus and firewalls are important but they aren’t enough to protect organizations against new and evolving threats. SMEs needs to be proactive and have full-time visibility of their networks and systems, including their emails, in order to detect threats. According to a recent IBM report, companies take an average of 207 days to identify data breaches3. This gives hackers plenty of time to plan and execute malicious activities, such as ransomware attacks. VARS offers advanced security solutions, including tools that can detect abnormal and malicious activities across an organization’s systems, data and network.

Hackers scour the dark web to find information such as login credentials and other data on organizations, employees and third parties. Many organizations are unaware that some of their information has been compromised and can be found on the dark web.

“In 2020, VARS dark web scans showed that an average of up to 30% of SME credentials are compromised or available for purchase on the web,” explained Guillaume Caron.

The VARS Virtual CISO Office gives organizations the power to leverage the expertise of a chief information security officer (CISO) without having to search for one or pay for a full-time resource, which can be particularly challenging given today’s skilled labour shortage. Having a full-time CISO could cost SMEs over $250,000 per year.

“VARS can assign a CISO to SMEs, which often don’t need a full-time expert on staff, giving them immediate availability at a fraction of the cost. We can help organizations with specific projects or work with them to develop and manage a complete information security program. In today’s world, any company that wants to remain innovative and competitive needs to embrace the digital shift by embedding security into business processes,” concluded Guillaume Caron.

1According to the August 2020 VMWare survey.
2According to a Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) survey released in October 2020, “Only 43% anticipate more financial resources devoted to cybersecurity in the next 12 months, down from 54% that expected an increase last year.”
32020 IBM report about the cost of data breaches, covered in Digitalguardian.

About Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton

Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton is a professional services firm dedicated to the success of organizations and their leaders since 1948. The firm’s advisors are committed to helping clients thrive by obtaining a deep understanding of what is important to them, their business and their industry. This knowledge, combined with a team of motivated and talented professionals help accelerate growth. A Quebec and Canadian leader in the areas of assurance, tax, advisory services and business recovery and reorganization, Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton boasts more than 2,800 professionals, including approximately 200 partners, working in over 100 offices across the province of Quebec and in the Ottawa and Edmundston regions.

Together with Grant Thornton LLP, another Canadian firm, and the Grant Thornton global organization, our global footprint spans across more than 140 countries with over 56,000 people who provide real insight, a fresh perspective and agility to keep clients moving ahead.

Information:

Francis Letendre
Head – Public Affairs
Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton
Tel: 514-390-4201
Email: [email protected]

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16 Oct 2020

The Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton family is expanding by welcoming the professionals of Mercier Vallières Lapointe  to the firm.

There is no doubt that Mercier Vallières Lapointe, CPA, S.E.N.C. (hereafter “MVL”) approach, based on developing and maintaining privileged relationships with clients, is in line with our desire to strengthen our position in the Bellechasse region by teaming up with experts who are committed to placing clients and resources at the heart of the action.

After 35 years of existence under this trademark, the MVL team has decided to choose our firm to continue pursuing its ambitions and enhance its clients’ experience.

“We are very pleased to announce that eight accounting, assurance and tax experts will be integrating our large regional team, including Pierre Mercier, David Vallières and Claude Lapointe who are joining us as assurance Partners. We are convinced that we have found in MVL an ally that shares our clients’ values and ours, thus promoting collaboration and excellence.” said Alain Gauthier, Regional Vice-President and Partner.

Based in Saint-Lazare-de-Bellechasse, the MVL experts will continue their activities in their current premises under the Raymond Chabot Grant Thornton name. Over the coming months, they will be actively supported by Alain Boucher, Partner, and his Lévis office team.