Canadian federal and provincial government relief and other initiatives in response to COVID-19 relevant to business

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the economy and the day-to-day lives of Canadians, governments of all levels, and their agencies, announce programs and take other actions in response. Further to our effort to follow, review and report on the on-going government responses, we note the following initiatives and provide hyperlink access for readers to obtain further information.

Federal

A list of relevant Federal Government Initiatives from the Department of Finance can be found here.

Highlights include the following:

  • Canada-US Border: As of March 18, 2020, the Federal Government will temporarily close the Canada-US border to nonessential traffic to slow the spread of COVID-19. All non-essential travel outside of Canada has been restricted.
  • Federal Stimulus Package: The Federal Government announced on March 18, 2020 an $82-billion aid package to help both individuals and businesses. Of this package, $27 billion will be direct supports for individuals, while $55 billion will be to help business liquidity through tax deferrals.
  • For businesses, available relief as of March 18, 2020 includes:
    • Measures are being taken to ensure businesses have access to credit. The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada to provide additional support to small and medium-sized businesses.
    • Small employers can apply for a temporary wage subsidy for a three-month period. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Eligible business will include those eligible for the small business deduction, non-profit organizations and charities.
    • The CRA will allow businesses to defer income tax amounts owed until September 2020. These amounts can be deferred until August 31, 2020. Please see our post on Important Canadian tax updates – Filings and disputes for more detailed information on the available relief. While no specific contact numbers or portals have been noted, the general CRA phone number is 1-800- 959-8281, and the portal is the same as noted above
  • The package announced by the Federal government also includes relief for individuals affected by the virus. For further information on employment implications of the COVID-19 outbreak, please see our COVID-19 Quick-Reference Considerations for Employers. For individuals, the package includes:
    • A new Emergency Support Benefit for workers who are not eligible for Employment Insurance and are facing unemployment. This will supply up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks.is a $5 billion fund intended to be a long-term income support, but the government has not yet said how much it will provide. Individuals can apply through the CRA MyAccount secure portal, their My Service Canada account, or calling 1-833-381-2725;
    • A new Emergency Care Benefit for those who have to stay home and do not qualify for paid sick leave. This benefit will be $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks, for those affected by COVID-19 who don’t qualify for Employment Insurance, cannot go to work and don’t have paid sick leave. Individuals can apply through the CRA, through the methods mentioned above;
    • A temporary boost to Canada Child Benefit payments of $300 per child. Individuals can apply through the CRA, through the methods mentioned above; and
    • An extension of the income tax filing deadline to June 1 and allowing taxpayers to defer until after August 31 tax payments that are due after March 18 and before September. This deferral applies to all taxpayers.

For links to various employment initiatives across Canadian jurisdictions please see our post on Managing the coronavirus (COVID-19) for employers

  • Mortgage Deferrals: Canada’s six largest banks will allow mortgage deferrals for up to six months, assessed on a case by case basis. They will also temporarily limit operating hours and close some branches. In order to determine if they are eligible to skip a mortgage, individuals/companies should contact their bank. Resources for each bank can be found below:
    • RBC is directing clients to its Skip-aPayment option, and has indicated more information will follow.
    • TD has a pre-existing Flexible Mortgage Payment Feature in place.
    • BMO has instituted a Financial Relief Program for clients and small businesses that are experiencing financial hardship. Individuals are encouraged to call 1-877-788-1923 for assistance.
    • Scotiabank has consolidated it’s COVID-19 response policies into one website. Support is available for both personal banking needs at Scotia OnLine, on the Scotia mobile banking app and at 1-800-4-SCOTIA, and for Scotia iTRADE needs at the How-to Page, or clients can email service@scotiaitrade.com, or call 1-888-TRADE88.
    • CIBC is directing clients to call their CIBC Advisor or to call 1-877-454-9030 to discuss options. Updates will be posted here.
    • National Bank is directing clients to send a secure message by signing into their online bank and to consult their demos and other resources in the National Bank app. All updates will be posted to their Important Notices Page.
  • Mortgage Insurance: The Federal Government announced on March 20 that it will guarantee previously uninsured mortgages, allowing it to acquire these loans in a $50 billion purchase program. This allows lenders to pool previously uninsured mortgages into the National Housing Act MortgageBacked Securities program. This applies retroactively to eligible low loan-to-value mortgages. The amendments will remain in force until December 31, 2020.
  • Plan to Mobilize Industry: On March 20, 2020 the Federal Government announced a plan to help Canadian companies ramp up production of medical supplies needed to handle the pandemic. The initiative will help companies that already make things like masks, ventilators, and hand sanitizer to scale up production, and provide support to those who want to retool their manufacturing facilities to produce these products. Resources will be deployed through the Strategic Innovation Fund .

Read more here

Source: Osler Law

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