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Canadian Clinic Small Business Response Plan

March 26, 2020

These are certainly challenging and unprecedented times for everyone. What we do know for sure, is that Jane is here for you and will remain here for you over the coming months and years ahead. đź’™

Latest Relief Updates

March 27, 2020

  • Government boosts wage subsidy to 75% for small, medium businesses and will backdate subsidies to March 15, 2020
  • Government to guarantee bank loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses (interest-free for the first year & some will qualify for up to $10,000 of the loans could be non-repayable).
  • GST and HST payments, as well as duties and taxes owed on imports, will be deferred until June

Small Business Response Plan

1. Income relief for small business: Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

On March 25, Canada announced a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

CERB is a taxable benefit that gives $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to workers who lose their income because of COVID-19. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April, and Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application.

CERB is still going to be applied for through myCRA account so people can start the process now by registering for an account if they don’t have one. The government mails a code out and it can take some time to get to you.

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty.

Additionally:

  • Workers who are still employed but have no income also qualify
  • If you are already on EI, you should not apply for the CERB
  • If you are on EI, but it ends before Oct 3, 2020, you can apply once EI is expired
  • If you’ve already applied for EI, but your application is not processed do not need to reapply
  • If you are eligible for the regular EI or sickness benefit, you can still access normal EI benefits if you are still unemployed after the 16 weeks of CERB
  • CERB is paid every 4 weeks starting March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020

More information can be found at the latest News Release

EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI on the EI Application page, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

2. Wage Subsidy

Canada announced an up to 75 % wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll.

More details on eligibility criteria will start with the impact of COVID-19 on sales, and will be shared before the end of the month.

Jane will continue to keep an eye on details and where to apply as they are released.

For now, basic information can be found here: Canada Economic Response Plan.

3. Sales Tax Remittance Deferral

Businesses and self-employed individuals are allowed to defer their sales tax remittance until June 30, 2020.

  • If you file monthly: This applies to remittances for February, March, and April 2020 reporting periods

  • If you file quarterly: This applies to January 1 2020 through March 31, 2020

  • If you file annually: The amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year.

Basic information can be found at Canada’s Economic Response Plan, and Jane will keep an eye on additional updates.

4. Instruct your staff on applying for EI

Immediately, many self-employed small business owners will be able to encourage their staff to apply for EI under Canada’s current requirements. The government recommends applying as soon as possible because waiting more than 4 weeks past the last day of work means the employee could lose their benefit.

Also keep an eye out for future announcements about a Temporary Wage Subsidy. The Government of Canada has announced the following:

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% 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. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

Read more here: Canada Economic Response Plan

5. Small business loans

New Canada Emergency Business Account Loan Program

This $25 billion program 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.

To qualify, these 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 December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 per cent (up to $10,000).

Jane will continue to keep an eye on details and where to apply as they are released.

For now, basic information can be found here: Canada Economic Response Plan.

Loan through BDC

Small businesses are now able to apply for Canada’s commitment to offering more than $10 billion in financial support in the form of loans through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada that will help your business remain viable and resilient.

BDC just provided this resource: BDC Relief for COVID-19 with the following details about new relief measures for qualified businesses, effective March 18, 2020:

  • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months,
  • Postponement of payments for up the 6 months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less,
  • Reduced rates on new eligible loans,

More details will be released in the coming days.

More information here: BDC Special Support

And here: EDC Relief for COVID-19

6. Mortgage relief from your banks

Canada’s six major banks have announced that they will provide financial relief to Canadians in the midst of financial hardship due to COVID-19.

These banks are:

  1. RBC Royal Bank
  2. Scotiabank
  3. TD Bank
  4. CIBC
  5. National Bank of Canada
  6. Bank of Montreal

Support includes:

  • Up to six months of payment deferral for mortgages
  • Relief on other credit products

To use this form of relief, you’d need to contact your bank directly for information on options that are available to you. However, we’re noticing some challenges are coming up as Canadians call their banks to utilize this relief measure:

“Customers should understand that [a deferral] is not mortgage forgiveness. Mortgage deferral means that payments are skipped for a defined period of time, during which interest which would otherwise be part of the deferred payments is added to the outstanding balance of the mortgage.” -Canadian Banker’s Association.

It does seem to make sense, at least from the perspective of those of us at Jane thinking about our own mortgages, that people wait a bit before calling their banks on this one.

7. EI Sickness Benefit for small-business owners

Many self-employed business owners who qualify for EI sickness benefit can take advantage of Canada’s Temporary Income Support if you cannot work because COVID-19 has you:

  • Sick,
  • Under quarantine, or
  • Required to stay home to care for children.

It’s important to note that certain EI requirements have been waived:

  • The one-week waiting period to apply for EI has been waived if you are under quarantine (effective as of March 15).
  • The requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI has been waived if you qualify for the EI Sickness Benefit.

In addition to this 5-point Response Plan, we’ve gathered some information based on common questions we’re hearing from small-business owners. Some overlap with our plan, but we’ll address them again, briefly.

Common Questions on COVID-19 Income Relief

How do I access income replacement?

This will depend on which income replacement you qualify for. If you qualify for the EI Sickness Benefit, you can apply now EI Regular Benefit

If you don’t qualify for the EI Sickness Benefit, you may still qualify for some assistance that the Government of Canada is in the process of rolling out. In that case, you’ll want to keep you eye on additional details as they are released. This is a great place to check regularly Economic Response Plan along with the other links we’ve provided throughout this document to specific aid programs.

What resources are available if I don’t qualify for EI?

Self-employed, sick or caring for family who is sick or children out of school, but not qualified for sickness EI - there are still some resources you could qualify for.

As a self-employed worker, you’re going to want to look at the Emergency Care Benefit, which provides up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. It’s a flat payment through the Canada Revenue Agency. See #1 above in our Canadian Small Business Response Plan.

We would also recommend looking into whether the small business loans for which you can apply could cover some level of income replacement for you while you are off of work.

How do I provide for my team?

  1. The first thing to suggest to your staff is to assess whether they qualify for EI Sickness Benefit. The waiting periods have been waived, and many staff who cannot work because of COVID-19 will qualify to start receiving benefits immediately.
  2. For those that do not qualify for the EI Sickness Benefit, you’ll want to direct them to this website and continue monitoring for rollout of additional income support programs offered by the Government of Canada: Economic Response Plan
  3. If your staff have mortgages, you can also suggest they apply for mortgage relief from their bank. See #4 above under our Small Business Response Plan - the mortgage relief will apply to any Canadian with a home loan through one of those 6 banks.

How do I keep paying my bills, business and personal?

  1. As a small business owner, keep an eye out for Canada’s Emergency Support Benefit application, due out in April.
  2. Encourage your staff to apply for EI.
  3. Apply for mortgage relief from your bank - this cost is usually 50-60% of our income, and getting relief for a little while will allow many small business owners to
  4. Check out BC Hydro’s Customer Crisis Fund BC Hydro Crisis Fund. It does require you are already in default, so this might not be for everyone at this time, but definitely a tool to keep in mind in case you come to need it.

What do I need to know about filing my taxes this year?

The Canada Revenue Agency is offering certain deferments for owed taxes. Here’s what they are currently offering:

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today 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.

The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

The Liaison Officer service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.

Full details found here: Economic Response Plan

Are the Facebook Small Business Grants Real? And applicable to Canadian Businesses?

Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses over 30 countries. Stay tuned here for more information:

Facebook Small Business Grants

We hope this information can offer some benefit to you and your team during this difficult time.

Please reach out and say hello if you have any questions or use the buttons below to share if you know someone else would benefit from this information.

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