Starting a Business in Canada

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Sep 7, 2019 - 2 minute read - Comments - government

An Opportunity to Comment on Digital Competition

The Canadian Competition Bureau has put out a call-out for information. The Bureau is looking into concerns that online search, social media, display advertising and online marketplaces, have become increasingly concentrated, to the detriment of consumers and businesses.

As the multi-national companies start to find that growing revenue is becoming more difficult, they are starting to try new strategies and tactics to make money. Some of these aren’t always in the best interest of entrepreneurs with small businesses. Increasingly, entrepreneurs are having to pay to have visibility in markets that previously would have been available to them for free. This is a problem as many small businesses and new businesses don’t have the resources to buy this access.

It’s incredibly important that access to the Internet and the ability to be found by potential customers have a very low barrier to entry. Any Canadian entrepreneur willing to put in the effort and build the skill to create an online business, should be able to do so at minimal cost. This will ensure that this opportunity is available to the largest group of people.

If you have been negatively affected by a lack of competition in digital markets or if you have concerns about too much power being in too few hands, you can make an anonymous submission to the Bureau. The deadline for submissions is November 30, 2019.

Aug 21, 2019 - 1 minute read - Comments - business planning

Saskatoon School For Startups

School For Startups Logo

Saskatoon’s School For Startups is a 12 night course that is designed to deliver practical knowledge to entrepreneurs who are looking to start a business. The course will cover the following topics:

  • Introduction to Entrepreneurship
  • Business Plan Preparation
  • Financial Literacy
  • Branding
  • Digital Marketing
  • Marketing & Communications
  • Legal
  • Accounting & Bookkeeping
  • Human Resources
  • Online Tools
  • Financing, Credit and Banking
  • Entrepreneurship Resources and Associations

The next class starts September 3, 2019 and runs through November 19, 2019. The class is every Tuesday evening from 6:30 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

The program fee is $900. This is a good deal for a course that would typically cost a lot more. The course is sponsored by:

  • Affinity Credit Union
  • MGM
  • Ideas Inc.
  • SREDA

If this is of interest, you need to move quickly. The deadline for applications is August 27, 2019.

Jul 25, 2019 - 4 minute read - Comments - government

Understanding the CRA's My Business Account Service

The Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) My Business Account service is a self-serve website that allows you to perform a number of actions on behalf of your business. The website includes the ability to deal with the following topics.

  • GST/HST
  • Payroll
  • Corporation Income Tax
  • Excise duty
  • Excise tax
  • Excise tax on insurance premiums
  • Air Travellers Security Charge
  • Softwood Lumber Products Export Charge
  • Registered charity
  • Information Returns
  • TFSA
  • Partnerships
  • Contract Payments (T5018)

It’s possible to file returns through the website and to provide other information to CRA. There is a message centre that gives up to date status information on your recent filings.

If you have multiple corporations, you can access them all from within the site by using a single set of login credentials. There will be a select box inside the site that allows you to go between businesses without having to log out and log back in again.

I’ve used the website and it is a significant improvement over dealing with CRA by fax, mail or over the phone.

The most difficult part of using the website is signing up to use it. It can be a bit confusing when trying to figure it out from CRA’s instructions on their website but it isn’t really that hard.

The first step is to create a set of user credentials. You have two options:

  1. Create a CRA user id and password
  2. Use a sign-in partner

You will want to use a sign-in partner, if at all possible. It’s the easiest option to use and maintain in the long term. This lets you use your login information at your bank or credit union to access the CRA’s website. SecureKey Concierge provides the service that brokers your credentials between your financial institution and the CRA. You can learn more about SecureKey Concierge in our previous blog post.

Creating CRA Credentials

If you choose the option to create credentials directly with CRA, click the CRA register button. This will take you through a series of forms that ask for information about you and your business. The CRA needs to ask these questions to determine your identity. You will need to provide:

  • Your social insurance number
  • Your postal code
  • Your date of birth
  • An amount from a previously filed tax return

The next step will be to create a user ID and password. You will then be asked to select and answer 5 security questions.

If you have done everything successfully you’ll get limited access to the CRA site. To get full access, you’ll need a CRA security code. This can be sent to you by mail or by email. If you choose mail you’ll have to verify your postal code against what they have on file for you. If you choose email, you will have to call CRA and they will email you a code. I recommend choosing email as the code can take a while to come by mail.

Once you have the security code, you can log into the site and provide your security code. Once you provide your business number, you will have full access to the services of the My Business Account service.

The CRA has summarized this in the video below.

Using a Sign In Partner

You can use a sign-in partner if your financial institution appears in the list of participating institutions. At the moment, the participating financial institutions are shown in the screenshot below.

List of Participating Financial Institutions

Click on your financial institution’s logo and you’ll be taken to a login page on their site. Enter your normal online banking credentials and answer the security question. You will then be redirected back to the CRA where you will have to provide:

  • Your social insurance number
  • Your postal code
  • Your date of birth
  • An amount from a previously filed tax Returns

If you have done everything successfully you’ll get limited access to the CRA site. To get full access, you’ll need a CRA security code. This can be sent to you by mail or by email. If you choose mail you’ll have to verify your postal code against what they have on file for you. If you choose email, you will have to call CRA and they will email you a code. I recommend choosing email as the code can take a while to come by mail.

Once you have the security code, you can log into the site and provide your security code. Once you provide your business number, you will have full access to the services of the My Business Account service.

The CRA has summarized this in the video below.

The CRA’s My Business Account service is a good tool that can save you a lot of time. It’s well worth going through the small amount of time and effort to set up an account.

Jun 26, 2019 - 2 minute read - Comments - government

What Is Securekey Concierge?

SecureKey is a Canadian company that provides Concierge, which is a credential brokerage service. A credential brokerage service allows someone who wants to access a website to use the credentials of another, trusted third party to access the website.

In SecureKey’s case, the trusted third parties that provide the credentials are Canadian banks and credit unions. These financial institutions allow the use of their online banking credentials to allow access to websites that Concierge supports. SecureKey’s role in the process is to make sure that your financial institution doesn’t know which website you are logging into and the website doesn’t know which financial institution is providing the login credentials. This preserves the privacy of the person using the service.

The current list of credential providers is shown in the figure below.

Participating Financial Institutions

The websites that allow access to their services using SecureKey are a wide variety of federal and provincial government websites. The benefit of using SecureKey is that there is no need to create and keep track of separate credentials for each government website that you need to access.

Tax preparation software like TurboTax has a feature called Auto-Fill My Return. This allows for the import of your tax information such as T4 or T5 slips from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The import of data is authorized by using your bank or credit union login credentials with SecureKey. This is a handy feature and it can save a lot of time when preparing your tax return. This feature requires a one-time set up with CRA so that full access is available to your tax information.

SecureKey Concierge is a service that is unique to Canada in that it has widespread adoption among financial institutions and government departments. This makes it a convenient way to access government websites using credentials you have already in place at your financial institution.

Jun 9, 2019 - 1 minute read - Comments - immigration

Saskatchewan Immigration Consultant List

We write business plans for provincial nominee programs (PNP) but we are not immigration consultants. We often partner with immigration consultants to write a business plan for a client’s PNP application.

In Saskatchwan Immigration Consultants and Foreign Worker Recruiters must be licensed under The Foreign Worker and Recruitment Services Act (FWRISA) before they can practise in Saskatchewan.

The government has helpfully provided a list of licensed immigration consultants that can be downloaded in PDF format.

Mar 24, 2015 - 2 minute read - Comments - government immigration

SINP Accepting Entrepreneurs

The Saskatchewan Government has announced changes to the Saskatchewan Immigrant Nominee Program (SINP). The five previous applicant streams - entrepreneur, science and technology, farm, large scale investor and young farmer - have been consolidated into entrepreneur and farmer owner/operator streams.

The SINP login page

The previous guidelines required a nominee in the Entrepreneural stream to have a $300,000 net worth and make an investment of $150,000 in a business in Saskatchewan. These requirements have increased so that a net worth of $500,000 is required and an investment of $300,000 must be made if the business is to be located in Regina or Saskatoon. The investment requirement outside of the province’s two major cities is $200,000. The nominee must own at least 33% of the business unless the investment in the business is $1 million or higher. The nominee must be active in the day to day mangement of the business.

The requirement to put $75,000 on deposit as a sign of good faith has been removed. Under the new program, an entrepreneur won’t be nominated until he or she has established a business in Saskatchewan.

There is a new job creation requirement that states that a nominee must create or maintain two jobs for a non-family member if a new business is to be located in Saskatoon or Regina. These employees must be Canadian or permanent residents. If the nominee is purchasing an existing business, the staff in place at the time of purchase must be maintained.

Under the previous program, applicants had been dealt with on a first come, first serve basis. With the changes, the program has switched to a two stage, points based system. All applications must now be submitted online. Those passing the first round of point scoring will be selected to move on to a formal evaluation process. The goal is to shorten the waiting time for highly qualified applicants.

The SINP has begun accepting new applications for the entrepreneural stream. There is no longer a quota or threshold for entreprenural applicants. Any interested entrepreneur can file a statement of interest today by following the instructions online at the SINP’s website.