COVID-19

This page was last updated at 9am on May 29, 2020.

COVID-19 UPDATES

Please find below a list of helpful links for those seeking information on COVID-19 and the response from the Government of Canada.

REAL TIME DASHBOARD FROM THE PUBLIC HEALTH AGENCY OF CANADA

Due to the nature of this situation, all information is subject to change. As further information is available, this page will be updated as quickly as possible.

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NEW FEATURE! – To get a summary of the benefits you may be entitled to, please use the COVID-19 Benefits Finder at: https://canada.ca/coronavirus-benefits.  By answering a short list of questions, you can get a summary of benefits that may apply to your situation.

The Government of Canada general COVID-19 website is: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/being-prepared.html

The Province of Alberta general COVID-19 website is: https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx.
The Province of Alberta Economic Relaunch Information – https://www.alberta.ca/alberta-relaunch-strategy.aspx

IMPORTANT:  You must have a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Account set up and your direct deposit information completed BEFORE applying for benefits.  This can be done at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/cra-login-services.html.

 

HEALTH:

  • In any case, if you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing seek medical care early to reduce the risk of developing a more severe infection and be sure to share your recent travel history with your health care provider.
  • Is there anything I should not do? – The following measures ARE NOT effective against COVID-2019 and can be harmful: Smoking, wearing multiple masks and taking antibiotics
  • How long does the virus live on surfaces? – It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems to behave like other coronaviruses. Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment). If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.  Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose.
  • Where can I get help with my mental health?
    • – Healthlink Alberta – 811
    • – Mental Health Helpline – 1-877-303-2642
    • – Kids Help Phone – 1 800 668 6868
    • – Health Canada has a new portal dedicated to mental wellness, Wellness Together Canada which will be able to connect Canadians to various mental health professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls.

 

PHYSICAL DISTANCING:

  • Should I be wearing a mask in public? – Chief Public Health Officer Dr. Theresa Tam advised Canadians that wearing a non-medical mask, even without symptoms, is an additional measure that can be taken to protect others, especially where social distancing is a challenge (ie: public transit).  Physical distancing still remains the primary way to avoid contacting the virus.  Non-medical masks are not considered suitable protection against contracting the virus yourself, but it can help protect others.
  • Postal Services – Canada Post continues to operate normally at this time.  You can purchase your stamps from home and receive them with free shipping by ordering at https://www.canadapost.ca/shop/stamps/canada.jsf.  May 11 – Canada Post continues to be very busy with providing outstanding service. Some outlets are closed due to health issues and they are reporting approximately 50 COVID cases. These numbers are relatively small in comparison to their large work force.

TRAVEL:

  • Canada has closed its borders to most people who are not citizens or permanent residents of Canada (see exemptions below). There is an international flight ban in effect.  Anyone showing symptoms (Canadian or otherwise), will not be allowed into the country.
  • Temporary reduction of service at Canadian land border crossings – The CBSA is temporarily reducing service hours at a total of 27 Canadian land border locations.  The temporary hour adjustments will remain in effect until the expiration date of the Order in Council made under the Quarantine Act prohibiting entry into Canada from the United States.  The CBSA regularly reviews its operations and adjustments are made when necessary.  https://www.canada.ca/en/border-services-agency/news/2020/04/covid-19–temporary-reduction-of-service-at-canadian-land-border-crossings.htmlAll Canadian-bound international flights will only be allowed into four Canadian airports – Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Montreal. This does not currently apply to USA flights, but that is subject to change.  No current flight restrictions are being placed on domestic in-Canada flights (except if you exhibit symptoms of COVID-19 or do not have a mask).  Crews, planes, trains, and truck drivers will have access to cross-border travel under exemptions.
  • Canadians who are suffering from symptoms of COVID-19 will be prohibited from traveling by air or rail both domestically and internationally.
    The second emergency order on mandatory isolation came into force April 15.  All travellers must provide suitable plans for their mandatory quarantine (asymptomatic) or isolation (symptomatic) and wear a mask while in transit to that place.  All people entering Canada are required to comply with additional quarantine measures.  This includes having a suitable quarantine plan in place and reporting as required to public health officials.  Some travellers may be required to enter a federal quarantine facility (usually a hotel) for 14 days even if they do not show any symptoms. Details will be discussed with those returning at the Port of Entry.
  • Should I avoid travelling or cancel my existing plans?

YES! This includes non-essential domestic travel.

      – All Canadians are being advised to return to Canada as soon as possible utilizing commercial options.  There are currently no plans for repatriation flights for those who are abroad and where commercial options remain available.
      – Both provincial and federal health officials have issued advice to all Canadians to avoid or cancel all travel. Many airlines have waived change fees. In short, to prevent the spread of COVID-19, health officials are asking you not to travel at this time. Health officials are also ordering Canadians arriving back from international travel to self-isolated for 14 days.
    • – Air Canada has reduced its schedule by more than 90%.  Check with the airline for the latest details.
        • Air Canada has announced new rules, requiring, among other measures, passenger pre-flight temperature checks, mandatory face coverings for passengers and PPE for crew.
    • – WestJet has suspended all international flights https://www.westjet.com/en-ca/travel-info/coronavirus WestJet will continue a number of domestic route suspentions until July 4th and domestic seasonal routes won’t being until July.  International flights are also suspended through to June 25th.  Westjet will be contacting affected customers.
    • Porter Airlines has suspended all flights until July 30th.
    • – Air Transat has suspended all flights.
  • Do I need a mask to fly on an aircraft?
      YES! Masks are required and will not be provided.  You must bring your own.
  • I am currently outside of Canada.  Should I be returning home to Canada earlier than planned?
    • Yes, the Government of Canada has advised Canadians to:
    • – Find out what commercial options are still available to return to Canada.
    • – Consider returning to Canada now as these options are becoming more limited.  There are currently no plans for repatriation flights for those who are abroad and where commercial options remain available.
    • – The US-Canada border is now closed to non-essential travel. Those returning to Canada by vehicle from the United States will be permitted to return to Canada, however, future local travel restrictions in the United States may impede your ability to actually make it back to the border.
    • – Ensure that you have sufficient finances and necessities, including medication, in case your travels are disrupted.
    • – More info: https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/advisories.
  • PERMANENT RESIDENTS:
      – Permanent Residents are not allowed to participate in the Registration of Canadians Abroad (ROCA) nor are they eligible to receive the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad.
        – However, since Permanent Residents are eligible for flights facilitated by the Government of Canada, we encourage Permanent Residents to contact the local Canadian Embassy or the Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (

    sos@international.gc.ca

      ) in order to express their interest.
  • Why these countries for flights? Why not a flight from X?
    • The Government of Canada’s goal is to facilitate access to countries with a high number of Canadians aboard seeking to return home but without commercial access to do so.  The Government of Canada will not be able to facilitate the return of all Canadians.Despite more countries closing their borders for defined or indefinite periods, many countries continue to permit airlines to operate limited commercial flights to Canada, or are already working with commercial carriers to facilitate the return of previously booked passengers home.
  • Either me or my family member is outside of Canada and is affected by travel bans. What should we do?
    • Canadians traveling outside of Canada in need of emergency consular assistance can contact Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at 613 996 8885 or email sos@international.gc.ca.
    • The Emergency 24/7 line (+1 613-996-8885) usually has 100 people working over the course of three shifts per day. That has been increased to 600 people.
    • May 6 – Hotpots: Largest volumes of calls to GAC Emergency Call Centre coming from Canadians in India, Pakistan, United States, Bangladesh, Philippines, El Salvador, Iraq, Egypt and Jamaica.
    • As of May 17th: approximately 34,114 Canadians will have returned to Canada from 279 flights from 91 countries.

 

    • International Travel Exemptions: The Government of Canada updated travel restrictions put in place to stem the spread of COVID-19. Exemptions to the air travel restrictions will apply to foreign nationals who have already committed to working, studying or making Canada their home, and travel by these individuals will be considered essential travel for land border restrictions.
      The exemptions include:
  • – seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers
  • – international students who held a valid study permit, or had been approved for a study permit, when the travel restrictions took effect on March 18, 2020.
  • – Permanent Residents applicants who had been approved for permanent residence before the travel restrictions were announced on March 16, 2020, but who had not yet traveled to Canada.

 

    •  Cruise Ships – On March 6th, the Government of Canada advised Canadians to ‘think twice’ about cruise ships, especially if you are elderly or have underlying health conditions.  Then, on March 9th, the Government of Canada officially advised all Canadians to avoid all cruise ships for the foreseeable future. On May 29th, it was announced that no large cruise ships would be allowed to visit Canada before October 31st, 2020.
      • – All major cruise lines, which have Canadian crew members on board their ships, are currently working on plans to repatriate non-essential crew members to their home countries. In some cases, these repatriation plans are well-advanced, while in other cases it appears that the cruise lines’ plans are still embryonic and ostensibly hindered by external factors. Most, if not all, cruise lines also plan to keep at least some essential crew on board their ships, to fulfill key duties (called “critical manning”) onboard ships that will remain moored for an undetermined period of time. As such, not all Canadian crew members will be repatriated home.
      • – Canadian Crew disembarkation/repatriation from cruise ships –  May 12 – Global Affairs Canada reports that it is unlikely that there will be further disembarkations of Canadian crew members from cruise ships in the US.

 

  • Quarantine Sites:  Under the Quarantine Act, Canada’s Chief Public Health Officer has designated 15 quarantine sites in 10 cities across the country. There are currently 1,547 rooms available for quarantine (total room capacity is 1,501). Some rooms are now being used for quarantine operational requirements. As of May 18:  1 373 (+2) unoccupied rooms 174 (-2) returning travellers in quarantine as follows: Whitehorse 1 (+1), Vancouver 41 (-5), Calgary 4 (+0), Toronto 93 (+1), Montreal 34 (+1), Fredericton 1 (+0)

 

  • Compliance and Enforcement – As of May 18 a cumulative total of 715 927 (-10 619) forms have been received from travellers at all ports of entry. As of 18 May, there was a 90% response rate for compliance verification by phone to date and 2 497 (+7) referrals to the RCMP.

INCOME SUPPORT:

IMPORTANT:  You must have a Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Account set up and your direct deposit information completed BEFORE applying for benefits.  This can be done at https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/e-services/cra-login-services.html.

    • SUPPORT FOR SENIORS
        On May 12th, the Government of Canada announced a one-time payment of up to $500 for eligible seniors.  Recipients of Old Age Security (OAS) would receive $300 and those in receipt of the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) would receive an additional $200.  This announcement requires legislative changes to come into force.  Seniors are encouraged to file their 2019 income tax form to ensure that eligibility can be determined for those not already receiving the OAS or GIS.  For those already receiving OAS and GIS, it is expected that payments will be automatically processed and delivered automatically through the same payment channel already being used for existing payments.
    • SUPPORT FOR STUDENTS
      • The Government of Canada has announced a $9 billion program to assist students and recent graduates during the pandemic.
      • Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) – This benefit would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities.  The benefit would be available from May to August 2020. Applications opened at 6AM EST on May 15, 2020. Be sure to sign up for a CRA My Account before applying to ensure prompt payment.
      • Student Service Grant – will help students gain valuable work experience and skills while they help their communities during the COVID‑19 pandemic.  For students who choose to do national service and serve their communities, the new Canada Student Service Grant will provide up to $5,000 for their education in the fall.
      • The Government of Canada will expand existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming to create up to 116,000 jobs, placements, and other training opportunities to help students find employment and develop valuable skills this summer and over the coming months. In addition, to help students continue their studies in the fall, the government will:
        • – double the Canada Student Grants for all eligible full-time students to up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21. The Canada Student Grants for Students with Permanent Disabilities and Students with Dependents would also be doubled.
        • – broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by removing the expected student’s and spouse’s contributions in 2020-21, in recognition that many students and families will struggle to save for school this year.
        • – enhance the Canada Student Loans Program by raising the maximum weekly amount that can be provided to a student in 2020-21 from $210 to $350.
        • – increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation students pursuing post-secondary education by providing an additional $75.2 million in 2020-21.
        • – extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships, and supplement existing federal research grants, to support students and post-doctoral fellows, by providing $291.6 million to the federal granting councils. In addition, the government intends to enhance work opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows through the National Research Council of Canada.

       

    • CANADIAN EMERGENCY RESPONSE  BENEFIT (CERB)
      • If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) can provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.
        • Application details are available through My CRA.
        • To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:
            • – You reside in Canada
            • – You are 15 years old or more when you apply
            • – You have not quit your job voluntarily
            • – You earned a minimum of $5,000 income in the last 12 months or in 2019 from one or more of the following sources:
              • – employment income
              • – self-employment income
              • – provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave
    • For your first CERB application:
        • – You have stopped or will stop working due to reasons related to COVID-19
        • – For at least 14 days in a row for the period you are applying for, you will not receive employment income, self-employment income, provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave.
    • On April 15th the government announced changes to the eligibility rules to:
        • – Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
        • – Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
        • – Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
    • For your subsequent CERB applications:
        • – You continue to not work due to reasons related to COVID-19 (or earn less than $1000 per month)
        • – For the 4 week period you are applying for, you will not receive employment income; self-employment income; or provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave.
        • – You have not quit your job voluntarily
        • – You did not apply for, nor receive, CERB or EI benefits from Service Canada for the same eligibility period
        • – You earned a minimum of $5,000 income in the last 12 months or in 2019 from one or more of the following sources:
          • – employment income
          • – self-employment income
          • – provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave

       

      • Please note that if you are presently receiving EI payments, you should stay on EI and not apply for this benefit.  However, if your EI benefits are scheduled to end before October 3, you may qualify for this CERB benefit and should apply.
      • If your CERB benefit runs out (after 16 weeks) and you are still unemployed and EI eligible, you can apply for EI at that time.

 

  • Q: I have employees who are refusing work because they want to collect CERB instead. Is this allowed?
    • The eligibility criteria in CERB are clear, you cannot voluntarily quit your jobs and retain eligibility.
  • Q: Does a severance payment impact CERB eligibility?
      • No, it does not.
  • Q: I am a small business owner and I have some income coming in but after expenses it is under $1000. Am I eligible?
      • The criteria states that owners who rely on business income for themselves should consider their net pre-tax income (gross income less expenses) when determining the $1000 threshold for eligibility.
      • So, if you meet the other eligibility criteria, you could be eligible.
  • Q: If a small business owner pays their salary through a dividend, are they eligible for the Canada Emergency Care Benefit (CERB)?
      • Yes, as long as the dividends are non-eligible dividends (generally, those paid out of corporate income taxed at the small business rate).
      • This counts toward the $5,000 income requirement to be eligible for CERB.  Non-eligible dividends also count toward the $1000 income threshold for a benefit period.
  • Q: Can an individual work or collect any income while collecting the Canada Emergency Care Benefit (CERB)?
      • A worker can earn up to $1000 a month and retain CERB eligibility.
      • This $1000 includes employment income, self-employment income, tips, and royalties. It does not include pensions or student loans.
  • Q: I applied for the CERB and received $4,000 dollars in one payment, what do I do?
      • There are several reports of overpayments across the country.
      • Many people were paid appropriately for two periods they were eligible for and the double payment was correct.
      • On Friday April 10th , Minister Qualtrough said that overpayment recipients must budget the money they received. It will act as an advance on their future CERB payment.
  • Q: Can I collect CERB if I lost my income but I currently collect CPP and OAS?
      • CPP and OAS are not income for the purposes of the CERB and if they meet all other eligibility criteria, they would be eligible.
  • Q: Will being on CERB affect future Maternity/Parental leave benefits?
      • While being on EI regular benefits would reduce the amount of parental leave one could take in that same year, that reduction does not apply with CERB.
  • Q: Can I collect CERB if I was supposed to start a job but that job is not going to happen due to COVID?
      • On April 15th the government announced that seasonal workers and those whose EI has been exhausted since January 1st and cannot find work due to COVID. We do not know at this time how this will be managed or when it will go into place.
  • Q: Can I collect CERB if I am not a citizen?
      • If you meet all other eligibility criteria.
      • The definition in the legislation is a worker residing in Canada, which the government has clarified to simply mean living and working here.
  • Q: Do I have to be laid off to collect CERB?
      • If your employment income has been reduced to under $1,000 due to COVID but you are still officially employed, you can be eligible.
  • Q: I would be making more than $500 a week on EI, but CERB only pays me $500. Can I get back on EI or get more money?
      • Every EI applicant after March 15th will be on CERB, and that will mean some end up with less than they would receive on EI.
      • We have been aware of this since the beginning and Employment Shadow Minister Dan Albas has sent correspondence to the Minister asking for more information on this topic.
      • Those people who are EI eligible will be able to apply for EI after the CERB runs out as long as they are still unemployed.
  • Q: Can my employer top-up my income if I am collecting CERB?
      • As announced on April 15th, an applicant may make up to $1000 a month and remain eligible for CERB.
      • This change has not been implemented yet and we will update when it is. Until it is made, top ups are not allowed.
  • Q: Can my employer top-up my income if I am collecting CERB?
      • Yes, under $1000.
      • You are allowed to earn up to $1000 a month and maintain CERB eligibility. Your employer can top up as long as it is under that threshold.
  • Q: I saw in the news that if you apply for CERB you will get it even if you aren’t eligible. Is that true?
      • The application for CERB requires you to attest to your eligibility.
      • The government will have powers to investigate after the fact to confirm eligibility and claw back money from people who should not have gotten it.
      • Willfully lying on the attestation is a violation of the law.
  • Q: What if I don’t qualify for this benefit or any of the other assistance measures announced by the federal government?
      • Someone who is in a dire situation and cannot pay their bills or feed their family needs to look into provincial social assistance programs which can provide emergency support.
  • Q: If I have to stay home from work, will I get EI payments?
  •  

     

  • LOW INCOME CANADIANS – GST / HST: Canadians receiving the GST/HST credit received a one-time boost in May 2020: $400 for individuals, $600 per couple, and $150 per child.
  • ALBERTA – UTILITY BILLS: The Alberta government has stated no one will be cut off from electricity or heat during this public health emergency. Albertans can defer their utility bills (residential and small commercial bills) for the next 90 days.
  • CHILD CARE BENEFIT (CCB): Increase $300 per child into the existing amounts for the CCB to be delivered on the May 2020 benefit.
  • STUDENTS: All student loan PAYMENTS suspended for six months (commitment by provincial and federal governments)
  • MORTGAGE AND RENT SUPPORTS
      • For renters:  Alberta is banning evictions for renters until at least May 1 and freezing rent increases to help counter some of the worst social and economic impacts of COVID-19.  As a first step, contact your landlord to see what supports are available to you.

     

      • For homeowners: The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers offer tools to lenders that can assist homeowners who may be experiencing financial difficulty. These include payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements. The Government, through CMHC, is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

     

  • PAYMENT DEFERRALS FOR MORTGAGES: Effective immediately, the six largest banks in Canada (Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD) will offer up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. Full announcement here: https://cba.ca/canada-six-biggest-banks-take-decisive-action-to-help-customers-impacted-by-covid-19
  • Further, many Canadian banks have announced that they will be allowing Canadians to defer their mortgage payments for 6 months. As a first step, contact your lender to see what supports are available to you. For more information, please visit your financial institution:
  •  

  • Q: Shouldn’t the banks be working on pausing mortgage payments, interest free, until people are allowed to go back to work?
  • Q: I’m a landlord. My renters don’t have to pay rent during this crisis, but I still have to pay my mortgage. What are you doing to support landlords?
    • Landlord-tenant relations are regulated by provincial governments. Please contact your local provincial government representative for more information on resources for landlords during this crisis.

     

  • DEFERRING THE PAYMENT OF INCOME TAXES. The government is allowing all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of income tax amounts owed on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act.  No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
  • Helping Canadians with the economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic and Important changes to tax-filing and payment deadlines https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update.html
  • SMALL BUSINESSES:

  • CANADA EMERGENCY COMMERCIAL RENT ASSISTANCE (CECRA) program is available to eligible small businesses.  This is for small business tenants that pay less than $50,000 per month in rent, that have temporarily ceased operations or experienced a 70% drop in pre-pandemic revenues, and which rent their commercial space from mortgaged property owners. This includes non-profit and charitable organizations.
    • The CECRA provides forgivable loans to qualifying, commercial property owners to cover 50% of the rent otherwise payable by eligible small businesses during April, May and June. These loans will be forgiven if the owner agrees to reduce their tenant’s rent by at least 75% for the three months. The CECRA requires that the rent forgiveness agreements include the following terms:
    • – the tenant will be responsible for paying 25% of its monthly rent;
    • – the owner will be responsible for covering 25% of the monthly rent that would otherwise be paid to it; and
    • – the federal government and provinces will share responsibility for the remaining 50% by way of a forgivable loan disbursed directly to the owner’s mortgage lender.
    • – the rent forgiveness agreement must also include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement applies.
  • May 25 – The CECRA is now accepting applications at https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/finance-and-investing/covid19-cecra-small-business
  • Updated criteria for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses are now available.  

 

  • April 27 – The Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) credit issued on April 9, 2020, was a one-time special GST/HST credit payment as part of the Government of Canada’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of CRA’s automated processes, all or a portion of this payment was withheld and applied to cover the balance owing from the assessment of their 2019 income tax and benefit return.  As a result of the recent decision to extend the tax filing season and defer the due date on balances owing, they are not required to pay CRA at this time. CRA currently has employees working to return these funds to Canadians as soon as possible.  Those affected can contact the Agency at 1-800-463-6737 if their situation is urgent in nature.
  • The Government has announced additional measures to support small businesses dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic. These measures will help Canadian businesses protect the jobs that Canadians depend on, and pay their workers and bills during these difficult times.

 

  • CANADA EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY –  A 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll.  All businesses, regardless of the number of employees they have, whose revenue has decreased by 30 per cent or more due to COVID-19 will be eligible for up to 75 per cent wage subsidy. Businesses are encouraged to top up their employees’ wages with the remaining 25 per cent of their salaries.
  • The Government of Canada has announced this program will be extended to August 31 with some modifications.  Details to come.
  • More details on extended eligibility can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/05/extending-eligibility-for-the-canada-emergency-wage-subsidy.html
    • – The subsidy will cover up to 75% up to $58,700 in annual earnings which could mean payments of up to $847 a week retroactive to March 15, 2020.
    • – Charities and not-for-profit organizations are also able to apply.
    • INFORMATION & APPLICATIONS: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy.html
      • – Businesses must show 30 per cent decline in revenue.
        • – Revenue decline is measured against the same month last year.
  • – Need to re-apply each month.
  • – This will apply to the hospitality sector, and non-profits and charities.
  • – Employers will need to attest that they are doing everything they can to pay the remaining 25%.
  • – Funds will be available in approximately six weeks.
  • – The government has issued a stern warning of severe punishment for those who take advantage of the system.
  • – The first phase of this wage subsidy has an estimated cost of $73 billion.
  • In order to address the realities faced by the not-for-profit sector, high growth companies and new businesses, the Government proposes the following additional flexibility.  The government will continue to carefully monitor all developments relating to the COVID-19 outbreak and will continue to take further action to protect Canadians and the economy.
  • To measure their revenue loss, it is proposed that all employers have the flexibility to compare their revenue of March, April and May 2020 to that of the same month of 2019, or to an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020.
  • For March, the Government proposes to make the CEWS more accessible than originally announced by reducing the 30-per-cent benchmark to 15 per cent, in recognition of the fact that many businesses did not begin to be affected by the crisis until partway through the month.
  • In recognition that the time between when revenue is earned and when it is paid could be highly variable in certain sectors of the economy, it is proposed that employers be allowed to measure revenues either on the basis of accrual accounting (as they are earned) or cash accounting (as they are received). Special rules would also be provided to address issues for corporate groups, non-arm’s length entities and joint ventures.
  • Registered charities and non-profit organizations would also be able to benefit from the additional flexibilities being provided to employers with respect to the revenue loss calculation. In addition, to recognize that different types of organizations are experiencing different types of funding pressures, it is proposed that charities and non-profit organizations be allowed to choose to include or exclude government funding in their revenues for the purpose of applying the revenue reduction test.

 

  • FAQ:
  • (INFORMATION & APPLICATIONS: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy.html)
  • Q: Are private schools eligible for the wage subsidy, even if they receive zero public funding?
    • Private schools are not eligible for the wage subsidy, regardless of their funding structure.
  • Q: Can a self-employed owner operator of an incorporated business be both an eligible employer and an eligible employee to receive CEWS?
    • – The owner of an incorporated business is not considered to be “self-employed” for tax purposes. This means that a corporation owned by an individual can also be considered an eligible employer.
    • – The corporation may be able to claim the CEWS in respect of eligible employees and also in respect of the salary paid to the owner if the owner is an eligible employee.
      • However, an individual who owns a corporation is considered not to deal at arm’s length with the corporation. As such, where the corporation is an eligible employer it may not be entitled to claim any amount in respect of an eligible employee that owns the corporation if there is no remuneration paid to him or her during the period that begins on January 1, 2020 and ends on March 15, 2020.
      • An eligible employer would not be entitled to claim the CEWS is respect of dividends that are paid to the owner.
    • – An unincorporated business operated by someone who is self-employed can be considered an eligible employer for purposes of the CEWS.
      • – The owner cannot be considered an eligible employee because they cannot pay themselves a salary.
      • – They can claim the CEWS for other employees who are eligible.
  • Q:  If an employer qualifies for the wage subsidy program in the first claiming period, are they automatically eligible for the following claiming periods?
    • – An eligible employer must demonstrate a 30% revenue decline in each reference period: March 2020 over March 2019, April 2020 over April 2019 and May 2020 over May 2019.
    • – Some businesses may see their business come back as the economy begins to reopen.
  • Q: Are small business owners, who pays themselves through dividends, eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)?
    • Those paid through dividends should consider applying to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (see Income Support section above).  As long as the dividends are non-eligible dividends (generally those paid out of corporate income taxed at the small business rate) and you meet the eligibility criteria.  Non-eligible dividends count towards the minimum $5000 in income required for eligibility. Non-eligible dividends also count toward the $1000 income threshold for a benefit period.
  • Q: Is there a revenue threshold small businesses must have to qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy?
    • – No direct revenue threshold exists.
    • – Demonstrating a 30% revenue decline is a requirement.
  • Q: If an employer wanted to only keep, for example 7 out of 10  employees; is that allowed under the program? Or do employers need to show that they are trying to keep all employees on payroll through the CEWS?
    • – There is no requirement that an employer retain all of their employees to obtain the CEWS.
    • – In the example, the CEWS would be available (assuming the conditions are met) in respect of the seven remaining employees.
  • Q: The language used in the CEWS backgrounder could lead innovative companies that receive government grants for scientific research and development (such as SR&ED) to believe that the CEWS will act as an “advance” for any assistance they receive from the government. Can you please clarify this?
    • – The usual treatment of tax credits and other benefits provided by the government would apply. As a consequence, the wage subsidy received by an employer would be considered government assistance and be included in the employer’s taxable income.
    • – Assistance received under either wage subsidy would reduce the amount of remuneration expenses eligible for other federal tax credits calculated on the same remuneration.
    • – For example, if a researcher makes $ 1,000 per week and 750 is paid with the wage subsidy, only what is actually paid by the employer, or $250, can be subsidized by the SR&ED (therefore 15% of 250 for large companies or 35% for small).
  • Q: Can a business receive both the 10% wage subsidy and the 75% wage subsidy, for a total of 85%? 
    • For employers that are eligible for both the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the 10 per cent wage subsidy for a period, any benefit from the 10 per cent wage subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period would generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy in that same period.
  • Q: How will the 75% wage subsidy be delivered?  Are you going to use the same mechanism for the 75% wage subsidy as for the 10% wage subsidy (i.e. deemed remittances)?
    • Eligible employers would be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Business Account portal as well as a web-based application. Employers would have to keep records demonstrating their reduction in arm’s-length revenues and remuneration paid to employees.
  • Q: If a small business closed because they’re considered non-essential and laid off employees, can they only benefit from CEBA, CERB and GST/HST tax remittances? The wage subsidy wouldn’t apply to them because they can’t re-open or sell online, correct?
    • – They are still eligible for the wage subsidy. The policy rationale for the CEWS is to keep employers and employees connected for when the COVID-19 crisis ends. The Finance Minister’s message to employer’s was “get ready to rehire”.
    • – CEWS eligibility criteria still fully applies.
  • Q: Will the wage subsidy program be available for Canadian employees of US based companies operating in Canada?
    • Even though it is controlled by a non-Canadian, the employer (the Canadian corporation) should be fully taxable in Canada and is therefore an eligible employer.
  • Q: Do unincorporated businesses qualify for the wage subsidy?
    • All eligibility requirements still apply.
  • Q: An ownership entity includes an aboriginal band and does not possess a taxable ID number, are they eligible for the wage subsidy?
    • – They will not qualify for the wage subsidy.
    • – As per the Department of Finance; any partnership of which a tax-exempt corporation owned by an Indigenous government is a member would not be eligible under the current program.”

     

     

  • CANADA EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT – The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide 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. Through EDC, the program will provide Canadian financial institutions with additional funding to support micro enterprises. This program will roll out in mid-April and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.To qualify, interested businesses will need to demonstrate that they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000). The objective of this program is to support covering non-deferrable costs of very small business, such as payroll, rent, insurance and utilities.This tool will help farmers and food processors access the capital they need, at a zero-per-cent interest rate. This will help them cover extra costs over the next number of months if their revenues are temporarily reduced due to the COVID 19 situation.

 

  • FAQ:
  • Q: What are the eligibility criteria for businesses to apply?
    • The Borrower is a Canadian operating business in operation as of March 1, 2020.
    • The Borrower has a federal tax registration.
    • The Borrower’s total employment income paid in the 2019 calendar year was between $20,000 and $1,500,000.
    • The Borrower has an active business chequing/operating account with the Lender, which is its primary financial institution. This account was opened on or prior to March 1, 2020 and was not in arrears on existing borrowing facilities, if applicable, with the Lender by 90 days or more as at March 1, 2020.
    • The Borrower has not previously used the Program and will not apply for support under the Program at any other financial institution.
    • The Borrower acknowledges its intention to continue to operate its business or to resume operations.
    • The Borrower agrees to participate in post-funding surveys conducted by the Government of Canada or any of its agents.
  • Q: Where do eligible businesses apply?
    • Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans.
  • Q: Can municipal politicians apply for the CEBA? 
    • Yes
    • Finance Canada has indicated that regional or local politicians, including school trustees can now apply for the CEBA loan.
  • Q: Do small businesses without a payroll qualify for the CEBA?
    • This is a major concern with owner-operator (ie-the business is owned by the same person who is doing the day to day work); who do not have a payroll, do not take wages and leave 100% of revenues in the business.
  • Q: Has the government allowed small businesses that use a chequing account to access the CEBA loan?

     

  • SMALL & MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISE LOAN & GUARANTEE PROGRAM will operate as follows:
    • Export Development Canada will provide guarantees to financial institutions so that they can issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized businesses. These loans will be 80 per cent guaranteed by Export Development Canada, to be repaid within one year.
    • Small and medium-sized businesses can also get support through a new Co-Lending Program that will bring the Business Development Bank of Canada together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to these businesses for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program, which will be risk-shared at 80 per cent between the Business Development Bank of Canada and the financial institutions. Eligible financial institutions will conduct the underwriting and funding directly for customers.
    • This program is now available at various financial institutions and credit unions.

     

  • CO-LENDING PROGRAM FOR SMALL & MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES – This program provides term loans for operational and liquidity needs of businesses, which could include interest payments on existing debt. Similar to the EDC program, this program is available to businesses that were financially viable and revenue-generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
    • – Loans of up to $312,500 to businesses with revenues of less than $1 million.
    • – Up to $3.125 million for businesses with revenues between $1 million and $50 million.
    • – Up to $6.25 million for businesses with revenues in excess of $50 million.
    • – The program is designed in three segments to target support to different business sizes.
    • – Loans would be interest-only for the first 12 months, with a 10-year repayment period.
    • – Applications details will be made available by financial institutions.

     

  • Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plan allows employers to increase their employees’ weekly earnings when they are unemployed due to a temporary stoppage of work, training, illness, injury or quarantine. Payments from SUB plans that are registered with Service Canada are not considered as earnings and are not deducted from EI benefits (pursuant to subsection 37(1) of the EI Regulations).  https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/ei/ei-list/ei-employers-supplemental-unemployment-benefit.html.
  • Additional Measures:These measures are a part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which provides direct support and tax deferrals to Canadian workers and businesses to help them in these difficult times.

     

  • Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country. The deferral will generally apply to remittances that become due in March, April, and May.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency is introducing a series of administrative measures to remove some of the burden on businesses experiencing financial hardship.
      • The government has already introduced several measures to support businesses affected by COVID-19:
        • – Providing eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10 per cent of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. (Please note that a 75% wage subsidy is also available with different eligibility – see above)
        • – Extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program, from 38 weeks to 76 weeks, for workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.
        • – Establishing a Business Credit Availability Program, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses, through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. These organizations are working closely with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, and tourism.
        • – Increasing credit available for farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.

     

  • I have a small business. Where else can I get more information about how this will impact me?
  • EMERGENCY FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE – LOANS:  The Federal Government has established a $10 billion fund through Business Development Bank of Canada and Exports and Development Canada. Companies impacted by the COVID-19 will have access to credit and loans through financial institutions.

     INDIVIDUAL OFFERS TO ASSIST:

    • At the current time, there is not a call for the general public to offer formal assistance.  It is recommended that those looking to offer assistance reach out to their immediate neighbours, friends and family to offer assistance.  Many Seniors, and those with underlying health issues, are self isolating for their own protection and may require assistance with an important errand.  If we can all help those we know, it will allow authorities to remain focused on other needs.
    • Blood Donation – Canada relies on volunteer blood donations.  The majority of donors are Seniors (37%).  If you are in good health, please consider donating blood at this time.  Find the closest blood donor clinic at www.blood.ca.

       

    BUSINESS OFFERS TO ASSIST:

     

  • For more information or to offer assistance, please visit https://buyandsell.gc.ca/calling-all-suppliers-help-canada-combat-covid-19
  • For clinical trial sponsors
    • Companies and researchers with drugs, medical devices, or natural health products that may be effective in treating or diagnosing COVID-19 are encouraged to contact us to facilitate clinical trials.
    • Clinical trials are studies to find out whether a drug or medical device is safe and effective for people. We can authorize a clinical trial quickly in urgent situations.
    • Please contact us at:

       

  • Information for Alberta employees and employers

     

  • Do you have any awareness resources in other languages available?