Resources for People and Business Impacted by COVID
April 29, 2020 | Posted by: Mike Garganis
We are all living in unpredictable times brought about by the implications of COVID-19 and it has taken a financial toll on individuals, as well as businesses small and large. In order to help everyone navigate these challenging times the Government of Canada, in conjunction with the Government of Ontario, has provided financial relief in various forms.
The Ontario Government is offering assistance through the Ontario Works program. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides payments to many workers who lost some, or all, of their income due to COVID-19. To be eligible, an applicant must have earned at least $5,000 in 2019, or in the 12 months before they applied, and must not have quit their job. The CERB provides $500. a week for up to 16 weeks.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) supports employers and protects Canadian jobs. The subsidy covers 75% of an employee’s wage (up to $847. per week) for employers who have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March, and 30% in April and May. Eligibility and other information about the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is available here. Employers who are eligible for the CEWS are entitled to receive a 100% refund for certain employer contributions to Employment Insurance and Canada Pension Plan.
A separate three-month program provides businesses with a 10% subsidy on their payroll tax deductions for all their employees, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. More information is available here.
The Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada are helping some businesses obtain loans of up to $6.25 million through banks and credit unions. Small businesses and not-for-profit organizations can also apply for interest-free government loans of up to $40,000. to cover operating costs if their revenues have been reduced.
Businesses that are unable to access any of these initiatives may still qualify for some federal funding, as $675 million has been set aside for special cases through regional development agencies.
The Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program will assist commercial renters and their landlords. To be eligible, commercial renters must demonstrate a 70%, or greater, drop in revenue and pay less than $50,000 in monthly rent. Landlords would apply for a forgivable loan administered through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMCH) that would cover 50% of rent payments for April, May and June. Landlords must also agree to reduce rent by at least 75% and not evict tenants during the three month period. The Landlord would be responsible for 25% of the remaining rent, with tenants responsible for the other 25%.
In addition, Federal and Provincial Governments have provided the following benefits where no action is required; individuals and/or businesses are automatically eligible.
- Ontario is doubling senior’s payments under its Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) program for six months, starting April 24, 2020. Recipients will see their payments topped up to maximums of $166. per month for individuals and $332. per month for couples.
- Starting in May 2020, the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) will increase up to an extra $300. per child for the year 2020.
- Low and middle-income Canadians who are eligible for the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit started receiving topped-up payments April 9, 2020. The average increase amounts to nearly $400. for an individual and nearly $600. for a couple.
- The Government is allowing all businesses, including the self-employed, to defer GST, HST and customs duty payments from March through May until June 30, 2020.
- Workplace Safety & Insurance Board (WSIB) is allowing businesses to defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020 with no interest nor penalty.
- For 2020, the Federal Government has reduced the minimum required withdrawal amount from Registered Retirement Income Funds by 25%.
- The income tax return filing date has been pushed back to June 1, 2020 and amounts owed can be paid until September 1, 2020 without incurring interest or other penalties.
- All repayments and interest for Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans has been suspended until September 30, 2020.
- Ontario has suspended all payments on student loans until September 30, 2020, and will not charge interest during that time.
- Ontario has lowered its Hydro rates for household, farms and small businesses so that all electricity use is charged at 10.1 cents per kw hour, which is normally only the case during off-peak hours.
The Government of Ontario announced a new website to help businesses work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Any business that could produce, or reconfigure to produce, essential equipment, from ventilators and masks to swabs and eye-protection, is encouraged to visit the Ontario Together webpage.
We can do our part to flatten the curve in order to get business back on track and strive to regain a healthy economy by staying home and staying safe!