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2020-03-27

COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses

resources for small businesses

UPDATED APRIL 24

Federal

 

A new calculator is being launched on the Canada Revenue Agency website to help businesses determine how much they will be able to claim through the wage subsidy program. He said employers will be able to apply as of Monday, April 27 for the 75 per cent salary top-up to keep staff on the payroll.

The Government of Canada is:

  • Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9, 2020, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses.
  • Announcing its intent to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. We are working with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic and we will have more details to share soon.

These measures are part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which has committed more than $107 billion in support to Canadians and businesses facing hardship as a result of the pandemic. The government will continue to monitor and respond to the wide-ranging impacts of COVID-19, and take additional actions as needed to protect the health and safety of Canadians and stabilize the economy.

  • On opening day, more than 794,725 people applied for the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB). The program, which provides qualifying individuals with up to $500 a week, will now be expanded to include more people and situations, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said during his Monday news conference.  
  • The program is currently limited to people who suddenly have zero income, thus excluding contractors or shift workers whose earnings have been reduced during the pandemic. 
  • The government is working on the final details of an even larger program called the Canada emergency wage subsidy. The CEWS would give employers funds to cover 75 per cent of a wage up to a maximum benefit of $847 a week. The government has said it may be another six weeks before the program is open to applications. 

The Government of Canada has announced a number of measures to support Canadian businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, including:

 

Canada's Economic Response Plan

Avoiding layoffs

Access to credit

Supporting financial stability

More flexibility

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance 

The federal help, expected to lower rent by 75 per cent for affected small businesses, will be provided in partnership with the provinces and territories, which have jurisdiction over rents.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments payable by eligible small business tenants experiencing financial hardship during April, May and June.

The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a pledge not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place.

The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.

Affected small business tenants are those paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations, or have experienced at least a 70-per-cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.

measures

Payroll Support Subsidy for SMEs will go from 10% to 75% for wages retroactive March 15th

 If your business revenues have declined by at least 30% because of COVID-19 you are eligible for the new wage subsidy

  • Applies to NPOs, charities, irrespective of company size
  • 75% wage subsidy on first $58,700 dollars earned
  • Canadians eligible for the wages compensation program will receive up to $847 a week.
  • The subsidy will be backdated to March 15th

The Emergency Response Benefit like EI will be taxable, but the money will not be removed at source and the full amount will be accessible immediately.

  • Applications open April 6th for Canada Emergency Response benefit - does not apply to those getting wage benefits from employers. 
  • Cheques will arrive after 10 days
  • Beneficiaries will need to testify monthly to show they are still without a job

Creation of Canada Emergency Business Account

  • Interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced, due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus.
  • To qualify, organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.
  • Repaying the balance of the loan on or before Dec. 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 per cent (up to $10,000).
  • 12.5 billion will be provided to Export Canada and BDC to help with cash flow support 

Deferral of GST/HST payments and duty/taxes owed on import until June

  • CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until Sept. 1, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020. This relief applies to tax balances due, as well as income tax instalments. The government made it clear that no arrears interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
  • The CRA has announced that it will extend the remittance deadline until June 30, 2020. The result is that monthly filers can delay remitting amounts collected for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods until June 30 while quarterly filers have until that date to remit amounts collected for the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period. Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalments are due in March, April or May 2020, can now remit amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year as well as instalments of GST/HST for current fiscal year by June 30, 2020.
  • In addition, the CRA confirmed it won’t be contacting any small- or medium-sized businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or income tax audits for the next four weeks.

 

 

Provincial

 

British Columbia

The BC Government is deferring many provincial tax filings to Sept 30, 2020. This is effective as of March 23, 2020, and means the deadline  to file and pay for the following taxes has been extended. They include:

  • Employer Health Tax
  • Provincial Sales Tax
  • Carbon tax
  • Motor fuel tax
  • Tobacco tax

The BC Government is also delaying the increase of the Carbon Tax to Sept 30, 2020 (initially planned for April 1, 2020), and cutting the Provincial Property tax (i.e. Provincial School Tax) rate in half this year for commercial and industrial properties (Class 4, 5 and 6). The latter is especially important, as it is a tax cut and will translate into meaningful savings for your business if you are responsible for paying property taxes (e.g. own the property or are on a triple net lease). 

The tax on carbonated, sweetened beverages which was introduced in Budget 2020 is being postponed until further notice.

Alberta
  • Corporate income tax changes: corporate income tax balances and installment payments will be deferred until August 31, 2020.
  • Utility payment deferral: residents, agri-businesses and small businesses can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider. Call your utility provider directly to arrange for a 90-day deferral on all payments. Learn more about utility payment deferral here.
  • Education property tax freeze: the Alberta government canceled the decision made in Budget 2020 and will freeze education property taxes at last year's level (a savings of $32 million for businesses).
  • Education property tax deferral: the Alberta government has deferred education property tax for businesses for the next six months.
  • WCB premium deferral and relief: WCB premiums have been deferred until early 2021. Employers who have already paid their WCB premium payment for 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit. For small and medium businesses, the government with cover 50% of the premium when it is due. Find out more here.
  • Tourism levy deferral: Hotels and other lodging providers can delay paying the tourism levy until August 31, 2020 for amounts that become due to government on or after today.

For more detailed information, please visit the Alberta government’s COVID-19 information page.

Saskatchewan

 

  • Self-isolation support program, to those not eligible for federal programs
    Provides residents $900 over two weeks.
  • All Crown utilities will implement bill-deferral programs allowing a zero-interest bill deferral for up to six months for Saskatchewan customers whose ability to make bill payments may be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions.

Three Month PST Remittance Deferral and Audit Suspension: Effective immediately, Saskatchewan businesses who are unable to remit their PST due to cashflow concerns will have relief from penalty and interest charges.  Businesses that are unable to file their provincial tax return(s) by the due date can submit a request for relief from penalty and interest charges on their returns. Audit program and compliance activities have been suspended to allow businesses time to focus on the health and safety of their customers and staff, reduce impacts to business operations, and minimize the spread of the virus through reduced audit travel.

Changes to Employment Standard Regulations: In addition to changes made to changes to The Saskatchewan Employment Act that introduced a new unpaid public health emergency leave and removed the 13-week employment requirement to access sick leave and the requirement for a doctor’s note to access sick leave, The Employment Standard Regulations have been amended to:

  • Ensure that during a public emergency, businesses will not have to provide notice or pay in lieu of notice when they lay-off staff if it is for a period of 12 weeks or less in a 16-week period; and
  • if an employer lays off employees periodically for a total of more than 12 weeks in a 16-week period, the employees are considered to be terminated and are entitled to pay instead of notice. This will be calculated from the date on which the employee was laid off.

These amendments create a balance for employers and employees where the difficult decision may be made to lay-off employees due to public health emergencies. In this circumstance, employees would have immediate access to new federal employment insurance programs, while keeping employers financially stable to ensure employees have a job to return to.

Business Response Team: To provide support to Saskatchewan businesses seeking to navigate the uncertain conditions caused by COVID-19, the Government of Saskatchewan will be establishing a single window information webpage for businesses to access information and receive timely updates on provincial support initiatives.  This will be complemented by the establishment of a Business Response Team, led by the Ministry of Trade and Export Development, which will work with businesses to identify program supports relevant to particular businesses available to them both provincially and federally.

An email address and toll-free telephone number have been created to provide businesses a single point of contact to help answer questions.  A single window information webpage has also been developed for businesses to access information and receive timely updates on provincial support initiatives.  The webpage includes information on both provincial and federal support measures, including the province’s recently announced financial support program.

 For more information, businesses can contact the Business Response Team by calling 1-844-800-8688, emailing supportforbusiness@gov.sk.ca or by visiting www.saskatchewan.ca/covid19-businesses

SaskBuilds Single Procurement Service: The Government of Saskatchewan has been contacted by many businesses, individuals and groups who have offered ideas and solutions.  As such, the SaskBuilds Single Procurement Service will serve as a central point of contact and co-ordination. If you are a Saskatchewan business, innovator, or supplier and you think you have a solution that can help us fight COVID-19, you may direct your submission to procurement@gov.sk.ca.

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Manitoba

As part of the Manitoba Protection Plan, the province is providing the following protections for the next six months until Oct. 1:

  • instructing Manitoba Hydro, Centra Gas and Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) to not charge interest or penalties in the event that Manitobans are unable to pay at this time;
  • instructing MPI to relax ordinary practices on policy renewals and collections;
  • supporting Workers Compensation Board (WCB) to do the same and asking WCB to extend relief from penalties for late payments;
  • directing Manitoba Hydro and Centra Gas to not disconnect customers during these times; and
  • working with municipal partners to ensure municipalities do not charge interest on provincial education taxes and school division fees and the province is encouraging municipalities to do the same with respect to their own taxes and will start discussions to support implementation.

The government is also deferring provincial income tax and corporate income tax filing deadlines and payments to coincide with the current revised federal deferral of income tax to Aug. 31 and has indicated it would be willing to extend these deferrals until Oct. 1, should the federal government agree. 

March 22, 2020: Manitoba Government extend tax payment filing deadlines for business

The province is extending the April and May filing deadlines for small and medium-sized businesses with monthly remittances of no more than $10,000. Businesses will have up to two additional months to remit retail sales taxes and the payroll tax.

This extension gives small and medium businesses a two month breather to deal with COVID-19.

The Ministry of Finance will also work with businesses regarding flexible repayment options above the $10,000 cap.

Retail sales tax (RST) returns for small and medium-sized businesses with monthly RST remittances of no more than $10,000 per month that would normally be due on April 20th and May 20th will now be due on June 20, 2020.

Businesses that file on a quarterly basis that have a due date of April 20, 2020 will now have the due date extended to June 22, 2020.

Businesses that qualify for the above filing extension that were not able to file and remit their February sales tax return by the March 20th due date will not be assessed a late filing penalty and interest will not be applied until after June 22, 2020.

Interest will continue to apply on all outstanding tax debts prior to the March remittance deadlines.
Businesses will still receive paper returns in the mail or web notice reminders by email for return periods March and April.

For further information, please see the Manitoba Government’s Taxation Bulletin Notice HE 20-03.

Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Levy (also known as HE Levy) returns for small and medium businesses with monthly HE Levy remittances of no more than $10,000 per month that would normally be due on April 15th and May 15th will now be due on June 15, 2020.

Businesses that qualify for the above filing extension that were not able to file and remit their February HE Levy tax return by the March 16th due date will not be assessed a late filing penalty and interest will not be applied until after June 15, 2020.

Interest will continue to apply on all outstanding tax debts established prior to the March remittance deadlines.

Businesses will still receive paper returns in the mail or web notice reminders by email for return periods March and April.

For further information, please the Manitoba Government’s Taxation Bulletin Notice 20-01

Manitoba Government announces temporary exception to Employment Standards layoff rules during the COVID-19 pandemic:

The Manitoba Government has added a temporary exception to employment standards regulations to give employers more time to recall employees laid off as a result of COVID-19. Under current employment standards legislation, employees who have been laid off for eight or more weeks in a 16-week period are deemed to have been terminated and are entitled to wages in lieu of notice.

After consulting and receiving the support of the Labour Management Review Committee, which includes representatives of both employers and labour organizations, the province is making temporary amendments that would ensure any period of layoff occurring after March 1, 2020, will not be counted toward the period after which a temporary layoff would become a permanent termination.

This measure is temporary and specific to situations where employees will eventually be rehired once the COVID-19 crisis has subsided and economic activity picks up again.

The province will suspend the exception when the province begins to recover economically.

For more information, please see Employment Standards' Backgrounder: COVID-19 - Temporary Amendments to Termination of Employment Regulations

  • Closure of all non-essential businesses from April 1 to 14
  • The full list of critical businesses can be found here.
Ontario
  • One-time payments to parents of children who are affected by school and daycare closures. $200 per child up to the age of 12, or $250 if the child is considered to have special needs. Increase in usual payments for low-income seniors for six months,
  • Some families will be newly eligible to receive support paying hydro bills, and access to the Ontario Works income support program will be expanded as well.

In its Spring Fiscal Update, the Ontario government announced the following measures to support small businesses:

  • Provincial tax deferrals on the Employer Health Tax (EHT), Tobacco Tax, Fuel Tax, Beer Tax and Mining Tax and other provincially-administered taxes until August 31, 2020 with no interest or penalty
  • WSIB premium deferrals until August 31, 2020 with no interest or penalty
  • Business Education Property Tax deferrals for one payment quarter (90 days after June)
  • Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption threshold increased to $1-million for the next year
  • Property tax reassessments being conducted this year for the 2021 tax year have been postponed
  • Provincial Land Tax Payments are deferred from their next due date for 90 days without interest or penalty

Please check the government website for a full list of measures in the Spring Update.

The Ontario government also announced an end to Time-of-Use electricity pricing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Effective immediately, electricity will be priced at "low-peak" - 10.1 cents/kwh - at all hours of the day for the next 45 days.

Quebec

Temporary Aid for Workers Program

  • Recipients will receive $573 per week for up to four weeks (open to those who are unable to work due to COVID-19-related reasons and do not qualify for federal assistance can apply on provincial level)
  • $400 more will be added the the salary of essential workers for 4 months earning less than $2000 a month to compensate with the encomic measure benefiting those unable to work.
  • Extension of Local Investment Funds (FLI) for two years, until December 31, 2022.l.
  • All non-essential businesses will close on Sundays for the month of April, except pharmacies, dépanneurs, and service stations. 

The Emergency Assistance Program for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses targets SMEs that are experiencing financial difficulties as a result of the crisis and who require working capital of less than $50,000.

This initiative is in addition to the Temporary Concerted Action Program for Businesses (PACTE) announced on March 19, which is aimed at businesses in need of cash in excess of $50,000 for their working capital.

 

New Brunswick
  • One-time payments of $900 to workers who have lost their jobs due to the COVID-19 state of emergency in NB, including the self-employed are eligible
  • Operating loans up to $200,000 to support small businesses
  • Under section 19 of the renewed and revised Mandatory Order COVID-19 , no landlord shall, in relation to any commercial and any other type of non-residential lease, weather written or verbal, give any sort of notice to quit, re-enter or re-possess, or exercise any right of distress, until May 31 2020, for non-payment of rent that came due after March 19 2020.

Waiving late penalties on property taxes:

  • Though business property taxes must be paid by May 31, late penalties will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis to see if the penalty can be waived due to undue financial challenges, such as having to close a business due to COVID-19.

Deferring interest and principal payments on existing loans:

  • As an immediate measure, and on a case-by-case basis – the Government of New Brunswick will defer loan and interest repayments for up to six months on existing provincial loans.
  • This support will enable businesses to have immediate relief if they are experiencing difficulties as a result of COVID-19.
  • This assistance is available, on a case-by-case basis, to any business that has a loan with an existing Government of New Brunswick department. The deferral can be requested by contacting the department that issued the loan.

Support for small business

  • To support our small businesses, the Government of New Brunswick will provide working capital to support small businesses. Loans will help companies respond to challenges associated with COVID-19.
  • Loans will be up to $100,000.
  • Opportunities New Brunswick (ONB) will work with a trusted partner to administer the application process.
  • More details will be available on application process in the coming days.
Nova Scotia
    • Government will defer payments until June 30 for all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.
    • Government will defer payments until June 30 for small business renewal fees, including business registration renewal fees and workers compensation premiums (a list of fees will be posted online early next week).
    • Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through credit unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30, enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000, and for those who might not qualify for a loan, government will guarantee the first $100,000.
    • Small businesses which do business with the government will be paid within five days instead of the standard 30 days
    • NSBI has updated the Small Business Development Program to serve Nova Scotia businesses better. The program helps businesses work with a private consultant to overcome a pain point or barrier, or a business expert to help identify and develop the leadership skills needed to scale your company. 

    Small Business Impact Grant

    Through this new $20-million program, eligible small businesses and social enterprises will receive a grant of 15 per cent of their revenue from sales, either from April 2019 or February 2020, up to a maximum of $5,000. This flexible, one-time, upfront grant can be used for any purpose necessary. Funding for program will come from a new $50 million fund administered by Dalhousie University.”

    Business Navigators

    Business Navigators are available to help Nova Scotia businesses with any questions they may have. They can be reached Monday to Friday, 8 am to 5 pm at 1-844-628-7347, 902-424-4475 or by email at BusNavigation@novascotia.ca 

    For more detailed information, please visit the Nova Scotia COVID-19 information page.

Prince Edward Island

For more click here

Newfoundland and Labrador

         Supports for Business

  • Loan payments on business loans administered by the Innovation and Business Investment Corporation are deferred by three months.
  • Workers safety training certificates that expired since February 28, 2020 have been extended to June 30, 2020, with workers having to recertify by August 30, 2020.

  • The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador has yet to announce supports for the self-employed.

    Workers’ Compensation

  • WorkplaceNL has provided employers with a workers' compensation premium payment deferral until June 30, 2020.

  • WorkplaceNL is offering reduced services at this time, but is prepared to help with any questions business owners may have. Employers are able to revise their payroll estimates at any time.

  • There are a number of webinars being offered by WorkplaceNL and the schedule is as follows:

  • April 6: Best practices for working during coronavirus

  • April 8: Ensuring a Safer Workplace with Effective Workplace Inspections

  • April 15: Reporting requirements for serious injuries

  • You can register here. Webinars run from 10 - 11:30 am (NDT).

  • For more detailed information, please visit the Newfoundland and Labrador COVID-19 information page.

Yukon

Paid Sick Leave Rebate for employers: The Yukon government accounted a new rebate program for employers to help benefits workers and self-employed individuals (announced March 26). The rebate covers a maximum of 10 days of wages per employee (not including benefits, payroll taxes, or dedcucation) to allow for sick leave and/or for a 14 day self-isolation period. The maximum daily rebate is $378.13 per day, per employee. The program will run from March 11, 2020, to September 11, 2020.
How do I apply? For more information or to apply to this program, please visit the Yukon government website here.

 

Information on business closure orders

The Yukon government has ordered the closer of the following businesses:

  • Personal service businesses (hair salons, barber shops, tattoo parlors, nail salons, massage therapists)
  • Restaurants must shut down in-dining operations and offer take-out and delivery service as of March 26, 2020
  • All bars must close until further notice, as of March 22, 2020
  • All non-urgent dental treatment has been suspended, April 2, 2020
  • Recycling depots and free stores must close on or before April 1, 2020. Citizens are encourages to store their recycling until services resume. E-waste drop-offs at Raven Recycling and rural recycling depots will remain open. Illegal dumping fines will increase on April 1, 2020 

In addition, the Yukon government has issued the following orders:

  • Social gatherings are to be limited to 10 people
  • Space of 2 meters (6 feet) must be given between people (this applies to businesses as well)

To see the Yukon government’s most recent announcements, click here.

Northwest Territories

 

    • Low interest loans to business operators through the Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC). Loans of up to $25,000 are available to NWT businesses at a rate of 1.75%. To see if you are eligible and to apply, click here
    • Clients of the BDIC can also apply to reduce or defer up to three months of loan payments without penalty or additional interest charges. Businesses will be automatically approved and do not require demonstration of financial hardship resulting from the COVID-19 crisis. Requests must be received no later than the 24th day of the month prior to the payment date. For more information, click here.

    For all other information business related information from Northwest Territories, please visit the official government website here. 


Nunavut

One-time relief grant of $5000 for small businesses affected by COVID-19.

Prospective applicants can apply on the Government of Nunavut's website, or by contacting a staffer who works at their regional Economic Development office.