COVID-19 Financial Relief and Support: Weekly Updates
Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been overwhelmed with lots of new information regarding the available financial relief for individuals and businesses. There have been updates on a regular basis. To help you keep up with all these, we have listed all the updates per week below:
Week of April 26:
1. Application for Alberta's Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant: Eligible Alberta businesses can now apply for the 2021 spring payment of the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. Applications are open starting April 23 to May 31, 2021. This 2021 spring payment was announced to help support businesses that were affected by the new health measures introduced in April 2021. Here are more details:
- Organizations that started operations on or before February 29, 2020 must show a year-over-year revenue reduction of 30% comparing a month between November 2019 and April 2020 to the same month in the following year.
- New organizations that started operations between March 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021 must show a month-over-month revenue reduction of 30% comparing a month between April 2020 and April 2021 to a month between November 2020 and April 2021.
- Organizations can choose any month between the stated times to maximize their benefit payment and meet the 30% revenue reduction requirement.
- The spring 2021 payment is calculated as 15% of the eligible organizations revenue from the chosen month to a maximum of $10,000
Week of April 19. 2021:
1. Extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS): The Federal Government announced another proposed extension for both programs beyond June 2021, a measure included in Budget 2021. Budget 2021 proposes to extend the wage subsidy, rent subsidy and Lockdown Support until September 25, 2021.
2. New Canada Recovery Hiring Program: Budget 2021 introduced this new subsidy for eligible employers that continue to have declining revenues relative to before the pandemic. This new program will help offset a portion of the costs employers take on when they reopen their business, either by increasing wages or hours worked or by hiring more staff.
3. Potential Extension of the Canada Recovery Benefits (CRB) and its associated sickness and caregiving benefits: Budget 2021 proposed legislative amendments to provide authority for potential extensions of the CRB and its associated sickness and caregiving benefits and regular EI benefits until no later than November 20, 2021, if needed.
Week of April 12, 2021:1. Financial Support for Air Canada
The Federal Government's financial support to Air Canada will be given through the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF). The Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation (CEEFC) will provide $4 billion in repayable loans and an equity investment in Air Canada of $500 million in newly issued Class B Voting shares at a 15% discount to their recent trading price.
As agreed upon, Air Canada will then commit to the following:
- Provide refunds to customers: Air Canada will offer refunds to any passenger who wants a refund for certain pandemic-related cancellations by the carrier that CEEFC will finance. Air Canada will provide these refunds as soon as possible, beginning April 30th, 2021 at the latest. CEEFC will provide additional loan financing of up to $1.4 billion to Air Canada to finance these refunds.
- Maintain jobs at current levels: Air Canada has committed to maintain jobs at current levels, to respect bargaining agreements and protect workers' pensions. Air Canada has 14,859 active employees currently.
Restart domestic air services: Air Canada will restart services at airports that were temporarily suspended. Services will resume by no later than June 1, 2021 at the following airports based on public health advice - Bathurst, Comox, Fredericton, Gander, Goose Bay, Kamloops, North Bay, Penticton, Prince Rupert, Saint John, Sandspit, Sydney and Yellowknife.
- Support Canada's Aerospace Industry: Air Canada is committed to complete its planned purchase of aircraft as set out in its business plan which includes aircraft built in Canada such as the Airbus A220.
2. Alberta's Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant:
The Alberta Government announced an additional payment (third) for the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. This program ended in March but because of the new restrictions announced this April, a third payment will be provided to businesses in need.
Applications for this additional payment will start this April 2021.
The payment will be calculated as 15% of the eligible organization's pre-curtailed monthly revenue to a maximum of $10,000.
Eligible organization must show a revenue drop of 30% and meet other requirements.
Week of March 29, 2021:
Here are the results of the Auditor General of Canada's Performance Audit of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS):
1. Short Time Frames: The Department of Finance and the Canada Revenue Agency worked within short time frames in order to develop and implement the CEWS.
2. Not enough information was collected: The report has found that not enough information has been collected from employers before payments were made. For example, the employers were not asked to provide their employees' social insurance numbers. Also, the CRA did not have up-to-date earnings and tax data or sub-annual data. The audit found that 28% of the subsidy applicants did not file returns for GST/HST for the 2019 tax year. Therefore, the CRA did not have all the information needed to validate the applications before making the payments.
3. Comprehensive audits in spring 2021: The Auditor General concluded that the CRA will have to rely on costly comprehensive audits to recover payments made to ineligible recipients.
4. Recommendations: The Auditor General recommended that the Department of Finance and the CRA ensure that it obtains the information needed to do validations for the programs that it is administering and to ensure tighter measures are in place for future programs. It was also recommended that the Department of Finance complete and publish an economic evaluation of its wage subsidy programs.
Week of March 22, 2021:
1. Extension of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): The Federal Government announced the extension of the CEBA from March 31, 2021 to June 30, 2021. The deadline extension applies to new applications for CEBA loans of $60,000 or to new applications from businesses that have already received the $40,000 loan and would like to apply for the additional $20,000.
2. Alberta's Working Parents Benefit: This March 2021, the Alberta government is providing this one-time benefit to support working parents who need and have paid for child care so they can continue working during the pandemic. the Working Parents Benefit is a one-time payment of $561 per child. Families can apply for this benefit until March 31, 2021.
Week of March 1, 2021:
1. Current Rate Structure for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Canada Emergency Rate Subsidy (CERS) and the Lockdown Support: The rate structures for CEWS for active employees, the rent subsidy and the Lockdown Support that are currently in place until March 13, 2021 will be extended for March 14 to June 5, 2021.
2. Wage Subsidy for Furloughed Employees: The weekly wage subsidy for furloughed employees, from March 14 to June 5, 2021 will remain the same and the continue to be the lesser of the amount of eligible remuneration paid in respect of the week and the greater of $500 and 55% of pre-crisi remuneration for the employee, up to a maximum subsidy amount of $595.
3. Revenue-decline reference periods until June 2021 for CEWS and CERS: To ensure that the general approach continues to calculate an organization's decline in revenues relative to a pre-pandemic month, the prior reference would be based on calendar months from 2019 effective for the qualifying period from March 14 to April 10, 2021. Proposed reference periods below:
Period 14, March 14 - April 10
General Approach: March 2021 over March 2019 or February 2021 over February 2021
Alternative Approach: March 2021 or February 2021 over average of January and February 2020
Period 15, April 11 - May 8
General Approach: April 2021 over April 2019 or March 2021 over March 2019
Alternative Approach: April 2021 or March 2021 over average of January and February 2020
Period 16, May 9 - June 5
General Approach: May 2021 over May 2019 or April 2021 over April 2019
Alternative Approach: May 2021 or April 2021 over average of January and February 2020
4. Flexible Baseline Remuneration Periods for the Wage Subsidy: An eligible employer's entitlement to the wage subsidy for a furloughed employee or an active non-arm's length employee is determined through a calculation that takes into account both the employee's current and baseline (pre-crisis) remuneration. An additional elective baseline remuneration computation for March 14 to June 5, 2021 (Qualifying periods 14 to 16) is proposed to ensure the baseline remuneration comparator remains appropriate. In particular, an eligible employer would be allowed to elect, for qualifying periods from March 14 to June 5, 2021, to use the period of March 1, 2019 to June 30, 2019 or July 1 to December 2019 (the current alternative period) to calculate baseline remuneration.
5. Interest Relief if you received COVID 19 benefits: Interest relief on 2020 tax owing will be given to people who have a total taxable income of $75,000 or less in 2020 and received at least one COVID-19 benefit in 2020. You must file your 2020 tax return to qualify for interest relief. If you meet all eligibility requirements, you will not have to pay interest on any amount owing from your 2020 taxes until April 30, 2022.
Week of February 22, 2021:
1. Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit: The Alberta Government announced a new benefit that will replace the Alberta Relaunch Grant ending on March 31st, 2021. Starting mid-April, the Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit will provide payments of up to $10,000 to eligible small and medium businesses experienced at least 60% revenue reduction due to the pandemic and ongoing public health restrictions. Payments will be calculated based on 15% of the eligible business' monthly revenue, up to a maximum of $10,000. More details will be announced in April.
2. Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF): The Federal Government announced that it is increasing the RRRF by $500 million, bringing the total funding to $2B, 25% of which is allocated for the tourism sector.
3. Increase number of weeks for the Recovery Benefits and EI: The Federal Government announced that it is proposing to increase the number of weeks of benefits available for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) and Employment Insurance (EI) regular benefits. The proposed changes include the following
- increase the number of weeks for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) by 12 weeks, extending the number of weeks from 26 weeks to up to 38 weeks;
- increase the number of weeks for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) from the 2 weeks to 4 weeks and
- increase the number of weeks of EI regular benefits available by up to 24 weeks to a maximum of 50 weeks, for claims that are made between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021
Week of February 8, 2021:
1. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) Repayments for self employed individuals: The Federal Government announced that self-employed individuals who applied for the CERB and would have qualified based on their gross income will not be required to repay the benefit provided they met all other requirements. The CRA and Service Canada will return any repaid amounts to these individuals.
2. Interest relief to recipients of COVID-related income support benefits: The Federal Government also announced that it will provide interest relief to Canadians who received COVID-related income support benefits. Once individuals file their 2020 tax returns, they will not be required to pay interest on any outstanding income tax debt for 2020 until April 30, 2022. To qualify for the interest relief, individuals must have had a total taxable income of $75,000 or less and have received income support in 2020 through any of the federal government income support programs, EI benefits or similar provincial emergency benefits.
3. CRA administered credits and benefits applied to tax debt: Any CRA administered credits and benefits normally paid monthly or quarterly such as the Canada Child Benefit and GST/HST credit will not be applied to reduce an individual's tax debt owing for 2020 tax year. This will help Canadians who are struggling financially due to the ongoing pandemic.
Week of February 1, 2021:1. Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) Guarantee: HASCAP provides loans to businesses that operate in sectors such as tourism and hospitality, restaurants and those that primarily rely on in-person services. This program is available in some participating financial institutions for now. Availability of the program in other financial institutions will be announced soon.
- The loans provided by HASCAP are for small to medium-sized businesses that have seen their revenues drop by 50% or more as a result of the pandemic.
- The guarantee covers amounts from $25,000 to $1M.
- The Federal Government has mandated the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to provide a guarantee to your financial institution for 100% of the value of the new term loan.
- The loans will have a 4% interest rate and a repayment term of up to 10 years. There is also up to 12 months postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan.
- The HASCAP Guarantee is available until June 30, 2021.
Week of January 25, 2021:
1. Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) additional funding: The RRRF in Western Canada through the Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD) has expanded the RRRF. The RRRF will now be providing SME's with an interest-free repayable contribution of up to $60,000 during the period of April 1, 2020 to March 31, 2021. If you have applied for or received the initial funding of $40,000, you can apply for the up-to-$20,000 expansion based on your financial need. The financial need is determined by forecasted operating deficit (total operating costs minus total revenue) between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. If you repay the outstanding balance on or before December 31, 2022, the following percentage of the contribution will be forgiven: 25% on the first $40,000 and 50% on amounts above $40,000 to $60,000.
2. Alberta's SME Relaunch Grant Eligibility Change: New businesses that began operating between March 1 and October 31, 2020 and meet the updated 30% threshold can apply for the grant starting February 4, 2021.
Week of January 18, 2021:
1. Legislative Proposals to adjust certain deductions for EI and COVID-19 Benefits: The Federal Government announced proposed changes to current tax rules with respect to EI and COVID-19 benefits. Under current tax rules, EI and CERB income are treated differently when determining tax relief under the Child Care Expense Deduction and the Disability Supports Deduction. The proposed changes will temporarily allow Canadians receiving EI benefits to make the same claims for the Child Care Expense Deduction and Disability Supports Deduction as COVID-19 income support recipients. This change applies to income for the tax years 2020 and 2021.
Week of January 11, 2021:
1. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Registry: The Federal Government launched a web page that allows the public to identify which employers are using the wage subsidy to support jobs. CEWS Registry
2. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) changes: On January 6, 2021, details for claim periods 11 to 13 (December 20, 2020 to March 13, 2021) were announced. The maximum top-subsidy rate for these periods is 35%. The maximum subsidy amount for employees on leave with pay is $595 and the base revenue drop comparison for period 11 will be the same as period 10.
Week of December 21, 2020:
1. Wage Subsidy Rate Increase for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): The Federal Government announced an increase to the maximum wage subsidy rate for the CEWS to 75% for the period starting December 20, 2020 until March 13, 2021.
2. Automobile Income Tax Deduction Limits and Expense Benefit Rates for Businesses: Most limits and rates that applied in 2020 will continue to apply in 2021 except for one change taking effect on January 1, 2021:
• The general prescribed rate used to determine the taxable benefit of employees relating to the personal portion of automobile expenses paid by their employees will be decreased to 27 cents per kilometre.
• For people who are employed principally in selling or leasing automobiles, the rate used to determine the employee's taxable benefit will be decreased to 24 cents per kilometre.
3. Temporary Adjustment to the Automobile Standby Charge: For 2020 and 2021, the Federal Government is proposing temporary adjustments to allow employees to use their 2019 automobile usage to determine eligibility for the reduced standby charge. Note that only employees with an automobile provided by the same employer as in 2019 will be eligible to use this option.
Week of December 14, 2020:
1. Repayment of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): Last week, the CRA sent out thousands of "education letters" to recipients of the CERB who may not have been eligible. Reports saying that the CRA was not clear enough in stating the criteria to be eligible is the main reason why many were confused. One of the main reasons for the confusion is over the use of gross income in determining if a self-employed individual is eligible. Many argue that the CRA made no mention of expense deductions on the eligibility requirements. Please note that if you need further assistance in dealing with this issue, kindly contact our office.
2. Home Office Expense Deduction: The CRA has simplified the process of claiming the home office expense deduction for 2020 tax year by using a temporary flat rate method. You can claim $2 for each day you worked from home plus any additional days worked at home due tot he pandemic. The maximum you can claim using this new temporary flat rate is $400 (200 working days) per individual. To be eligible to claim this deduction, ALL the following criteria must be met:
• You worked from home in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic or your employer required you to work from home
• You worked more than 50% of the time from home for a period of at least four consecutive weeks in 2020
• You have a completed and signed T2200S or From T2200 from your employer which is only applicable if the detailed method is used to complete the claim
• The expenses are used directly in your work during the period.
3. Alberta's Comprehensive Outreach Program: The Alberta Government announced a new program for communities with high levels of COVID spread. Self-isolation hotel rooms and financial aid will be made available to residents of these communities who test positive for COVID-19.
• Individuals in these areas who test positive for COVID-19 can stay at a designated hotel room for 14 days for free, including food.
• These individuals will also be eligible for temporary financial aid of $625 when they have completed their self-isolation.
Week of December 7, 2020:
The Federal Government announced new measures to continue supporting individuals and businesses through the recent Fall Economic Statement 2020. Here are some of the proposed new measures:
• Increase the maximum rate of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to 75% for the period beginning December 20, 2020 and extending this rate until March 13, 2021.
• Extend the current rates of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and the Lockdown Support until March 13, 2021.
• Provide temporary support of up to $1,200 in 2021 for each child under 6 years old for families entitled to the Canada Child Benefit. Four payments of $300 per child under the age of 6 for families with family net income below $120,000 and $150 per child under the age of 6 for families with family net income above $120,000 will be made in 2021.
• Launch of the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) to support the hardest-hit industries such as tourism, hotels, arts and culture and the air sector. This program will offer 100% government-guaranteed financing for heavily-affected businesses and provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million over extended terms, up to 10 years.
• A top-up of up to $500 million on a cash basis to ensure the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund continues to support small businesses that are not able to access other federal pandemic support programs.
• Simplify the Home Office Expense Deduction to allow Canadian employees working from home in 2020 due to COVID with modest expenses to claim up to $400, based on the amount of time working from home without the need to track detailed expenses. Also, the CRA will not generally request that people provide a signed form from their employers.
• Apply a temporary GST/HST relief on face masks and face shields designed for human use that meet certain specifications. This measure would apply to supplies made after December 6, 2020.
The Alberta Government announced a program expansion to the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. Here are the changes you need to know:
• Starting week of December 14, job creators with 30% revenue loss due to the COVID pandemic will qualify for the program instead of the previously announced 40% revenue loss requirement. This 30% threshold will be available to affected businesses retroactive to March 2020.
• Eligible businesses that have been affected by public health orders in effect from November 6, 2020 and later will be able to qualify for a second payment through the program (applications will open soon).
• Eligible job creators will be able to apply for 15% of their pre-COVID monthly revenue up to a maximum of $5,000 in funding for their first payment and a maximum of $15,000 for their second payment.
• More details will be announced soon.
Here's an important update on the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA):
• Starting December 4, 2020, businesses can now access the second CEBA loan of up to $20,000, on top of the initial $40,000 that was available to small businesses.
Week of November 23, 2020:
1. Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS): The CERS officially started this week. You can now apply for the CERS through the CRA. Please click on the official CERS webpage for more information: CERS Webpage
2. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) updates for periods 5 to 10: CEWS rules have been modified for periods 5 to 10. More details on our blog: CEWS Updates for Periods 5 to 10
3. AB Relaunch Grant: The Alberta Government announced additional support for small and medium - sized businesses through a 2nd payment of the Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant. This will be available to businesses in areas where new health restrictions have been implemented. Also, job creators that have experienced a 40% revenue loss due to the pandemic will qualify, lowering the threshold from the current 50% revenue loss requirement. This 40% threshold is retroactive to March. Businesses can start applying in the coming weeks.
Week of November 9, 2020:
1. Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS): This week, the Federal Government announced details of the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy that will apply to its first 12 weeks of implementation, until December 19, 2020. Please click on this link to our blog for more information: Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Blog
Week of October 26, 2020:1. Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) Eligibility: Businesses using personal banking accounts can now access the CEBA. Please note that to be eligible to apply, businesses must have been operating as a business as of March 1, 2020 and must successfully open a business account at a Canadian financial institution that is participating in CEBA and meet other existing CEBA eligibility criteria.
2. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) for furloughed employees: As of October 25, 2020, the wage subsidy for furloughed employees will be aligned with the benefits provided through Employment Insurance. This means the subsidy per week in respect of arm's length employee will be:
- the amount of eligible remuneration paid in respect of the week
- or, if the employee receives remuneration of $500 or more in respect of the week, the greater of $500 and 55% of pre-crisis remuneration for the employee, up to a maximum subsidy amount of $573.
Week of October 12, 2020:
1. NEW Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS): The CERS will provide rent and mortgage support for businesses, charities and non-profits until June 2021. This rent subsidy will be provided directly to tenants by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65% of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Eligible organizations will be able to make claims retroactively for the period starting September 27 to October 24, 2020. More details will be announced soon.
2. Top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy: A top up of 25% will be provided to organizations that temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65% subsidy.
3. Extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy: The CEWS is extended until June 2021. Note that the subsidy will remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65% of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.
4. Expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): The expanded CEBA will allow access to an interest free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of the additional funding will be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. Also, the application deadline for the CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. More details regarding launch date and application process will be announced soon.
Week of October 5, 2020:
1. Applications for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB): You can now apply for the CRCB starting this week. More details here - Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)
2. Application for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): You can start applying for the CRSB this week if you are eligible. More details here - Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
3. Application for the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB): The application for the CRB will open on October 12th. More details here - Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
Week of September 21, 2020:
1. CRA Resuming Business Activities: The CRA has announced that some activities related to appeals, audits, charity revocations, collections, compliance activities and outreach activities will resume this month (September 2020). As a result, you may receive a call or a letter from the CRA with a specific call to action.
2. New T4 reporting requirements: For the year 2020 tax year, the CRA will introduce additional reporting for the T4 slip, Statement of Remuneration Paid. Additional reporting requirements will apply to all employers and will help validate payments made under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB).
3. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) extension: An extension of the CEWS until next summer was announced (Speech from the Throne, 9/23/2020).
4. Canadian Disability Benefit: The government announced that it is working on a Canadian disability benefit modelled after the Guaranteed Income Supplement for seniors to help Canadians living with disabilities during this pandemic.
5. Investment in early learning and childcare system: The Government said that it is committed to creating an efficient and country-wide early learning and childcare system to address the economic effects of the pandemic on women.
Week of September 7, 2020:
1. Extension of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA): The Federal Government announced that the CECRA is extended to September. The deadline for applications has also been extended to accommodate this extension. For more details: CECRA
2. Black Entrepreneurship Program: The Prime Minister announced investments of up to $221 million in partnership with Canadian financial institutions to launch the Black Entrepreneurship Program. This program aims to help Black business owners and entrepreneurs recover from the COVID-19 crisis and grow their businesses.
3. Benchmark rate during COVID-19 recovery: The Bank of Canada will keep its benchmark interest rate at 0.25% for as long as necessary to aid in the economic recovery from COVID-19.
Week of August 31, 2020:
1. Extension of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): The CEBA application deadline is extended from August 31 to October 31, 2020.
2. Extension of the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP): The BCAP is extended to June 2021.
3. Eligibility for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): The Federal Government announced that it is working on making the CEBA available to those with qualifying payroll or non-deferrable expenses that have been unable to apply due to not operating from a business banking account. Further details will be announced soon.
Week of August 24, 2020:
1. NEW Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB): The CRB will provide $400 per week up to 26 weeks to self-employed workers not eligible for EI but still need income support from September 27 for 1 year.
2. NEW Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): The CRSB will provide $500 per week for 2 weeks to workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19 from September 27 for 1 year.
3. NEW Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB): The CRCB will provide $500 per week for 26 weeks per household for individuals who are unable to work for at least 60% of their normally scheduled work within a given week because they must take care of their child under 12 years old or take care of a family member with a disability or a dependent.
4. Changes to EI: Changes to EI were announced including establishing a minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% across Canada and freezing EI premium rate for employees and rate for employers at the 2020 levels.
5. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) for furloughed employees: The Government proposed to extend the current treatment of furloughed employees under the CEWS program by 4 weeks - from August 30 to September 26. Employers who qualify for the CEWS will be able to continue to claim up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week to support their furloughed employees. Further details will be announced soon.
Week of August 17, 2020:
1. Launch of Enhanced Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): The CRA has opened applications for period 5 (first period of the enhanced CEWS program). The enhanced CEWS includes the following changes applicable to periods 5-9: extension of the CEWS until November 21, 2020, increased eligibility for employers who have experienced a revenue drop and employers who are especially hard hit can apply for a top-up up to 25%. For more details: CEWS Extension & Other Updates
2. Updated Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Calculator launched: The Department of Finance launched an updated CEWS calculator which can provide employers with an estimate of the subsidy they can expect to receive if they apply. It also includes printable spreadsheets and statements to help employers make informed decisions. CEWS Calculator.
Week of August 3, 2020:
1. Extension of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA): The Government announced that it is extending the CECRA by one month to help small businesses pay rent for August. Existing applicants need to reapply for the month of August and have until September 14, 2020 to do so. New applicants can choose to apply for the three-month initial period, four months or five months, but need to do so by the original date of August 31, 2020.
2. Delay on the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) application process: If you have applied for the CEBA, please note that the CEBA verification process is being updated and will cause a delay in the processing time for some applications. Once your application has been processed, your financial institution will contact you. Please also note that the deadline to apply for the CEBA is August 31, 2020.
Week of July 27, 2020:
1. Payment Deadline Extension: The payment due date for current year individual, corporate and trust income tax returns, including installment payments have been extended to September 30, 2020 (instead of September 1, 2020). More details here: CRA extends payment deadline
2. Interest on Existing Debt: The CRA announced that it will waive arrears interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporation and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020. More details here: Interest waived on existing tax debt
3. Bill C-20 receives Royal Assent: Bill C-20, An Act respecting further COVID-19 measures, received Royal Assent on July 27, 2020. This bill introduced significant changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). More details on these changes are on our blog: CEWS Extension & Other Updates
Week of July 20, 2020:
1. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): The Federal Government announced its proposed changes to the CEWS including extension of the program to December 19, 2020, making the subsidy available to employers with revenue decline of less than 30% and introducing a top-up of up to an additional 25% for employers adversely affected by COVID. More details here: CEWS Extension & Other Updates
2. One-time payment for persons with disabilities: The Federal Government also announced a proposed legislation that will allow sharing of information to facilitate the delivery of a one-time payment to persons with disabilities. A non-taxable and non-reportable payment of up to $600 will be delivered to 1.7 million eligible individuals who are holders of a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate, currently receive Canada Pension Plan disability benefits or Quebec Pension Plan disability benefits or are in receipt of disability supports provided by Veterans Affairs Canada.
Week of June 28. 2020:
1. Alberta's Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Relaunch Grant: The Alberta Government announced details of this new program this week. Eligible SMEs can apply for 15% of their pre-COVID-19 monthly revenue up to a maximum of $5,000 in funding. For more info: Alberta`s SME Relaunch Grant
2. End of the Sales Tax and Duty Payment Deferral: The sales tax and customs duty payment deferral has ended last June 30th. The Federal Government has announced that it will not extend this measure but if there are any businesses still struggling to pay, they may contact the CRA or Border Services to make a request for the cancellation of penalties and interest or for a flexible payment arrangement with the CRA.
3. Extension of Rent Relief Program for Small Businesses: The Federal Government announced that it will extend the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) by one month to cover eligible small business rents for July 2020. More details on CECRA here: CECRA
4. Canada Emergency Business Account: The CEBA Document Upload Website was recently launched. After you have completed your CEBA application with your primary financial institution, you will be directed to this website to upload your supporting documentation: https://application-demande.ceba-cuec.ca/
5. Alberta's Recovery Plan: The Alberta Government has announced details of its Recovery Plan that includes $10 billion in projects to help create more jobs and an early implementation of the tax cut on the general business tax rate (from 10% to 8% starting July 1, 2020). The 8% tax rate was previously planned to start in January 1, 2022.
Week of June 15. 2020:
1. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): The Federal Government has announced the extension of the CERB by another 8 weeks. Important note: If you were temporarily laid off and your employer asked you to go back to work and you refuse, you will no longer be eligible for the CERB. Refusing to come back to work is essentially quitting your job which means you can no longer receive the CERB. For more info: Update on CERB
2. Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): The Federal Government announced that starting June 19, 2020, small businesses that have not been able to access the CEBA because of lack of payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly and family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends will become eligible. Important note: The main qualification is now $40K of non-deferable expenses if you don't have a T4 summary. More details here: Update on CEBA
Week of June 8, 2020:
1. Alberta Commercial Tenancy Measures: The Alberta Government announced further measures to ensure commercial tenants will not face rent increases or be evicted for non-payment of rent due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More details are still being finalized.
2. Alberta Relaunch Funding: The Alberta Government has committed up to $200 million in funding for eligible small and medium sized businesses and non-profits to access up to $5,000 to offset a portion of their relaunch costs. Funds can be used to purchase PPEs, disinfecting supplies, rent, employee wages or replacing inventory. More details and the program's online application will be made available in the next coming weeks.
Week of June 1 2020:
1. Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): CEBA new rules were adopted by the government and the banks are expected to update their portals for the applications to reflect this change. For more info: Update on CEBA
2. Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF): Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Western Canada who cannot access existing financial relief measures can now apply for funding under the Regional Relief and Recover Fund (RRRF) through Western Economic Diversification Canada. More details here: RRRF
3. Special One-Time Payment for Seniors: Seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will receive their special one-time, tax-free payment during the week of July 6. Seniors eligible for the OAS pension will receive a payment of $300, and those also eligible for the GIS will receive an additional $200, for a total of $500. Allowance recipients will also receive $500.
4. CRA Audits: The CRA has resumed a full range of audit work but is focusing on higher dollar audits first, audits close to completion, and those with a strategic importance to the Government of Canada, provinces and territories, or our tax treaty partners.
5. CRA Objections: For objections that are due between March 18, 2020 and June 30, 2020, the deadline has been extended to June 30, 2020.
6. Deadline to Pay for Taxes Owed: The deadline for individuals to file has passed (June 1, 2020) and the deadline to pay any amounts owed has been extended to September 1, 2020.
Week of May 18, 2020:
1. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): The CEWS has been extended until August 29, 2020 instead of the previously announced end date of June 6, 2020. A number of prescribed organizations was also included as eligible to apply for the CEWS. More details here: CEWS Eligibility Extension
2. Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): The CEBA can now be accessed by more Canadian small businesses with a payroll lower than $20,000 provided they meet certain requirements. More details here: CEBA Expansion of Eligibility
3. Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA): The CECRA will be open for applications starting May 25, 2020 through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. More details here: CECRA
4. Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF): Applications to LEEFF are now open (started May 20, 2020) through the Canada Development Investment Corporation. More details on the CDEV website: LEEFF
5. Benefit Payments: CRA announced that benefit payments will continue for an additional three months for those who are not able to file their 2019 returns on time (tax filing deadline is June 1). Benefit payments with regards to GST/HST credit and Canada child benefit will continue until the end of September 2020. Please note that if your 2019 tax returns are not received and assessed by early September 2020, estimated benefit payments will stop and the taxpayer will have to repay the estimated amounts that were issued as of July 2020.
Week of May 11, 2020:
1. Extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): The Prime Minister announced that the CEWS will be made available past its original end date of June 6,2020. No further details available at this time.
2. Large Employer Emergency Financial Facility (LEEFF): The Prime Minister announced this new measure to support Canada's largest employers. The LEEFF will help protect Canadian jobs and keep the operations of big businesses going through this economic downturn.
3. Expansion of the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP): This expansion will include mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. The loans provided will be up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million.
4. Additional Support for Seniors: The Federal Government announced additional support for seniors including additional financial support of $2.5 billion for a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligibile for the Old Age Security pension with an additional $200 for seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
5. Application for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB): The CESB will provide financial support to post-secondary students and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19. Applications to the CESB will start on May 15, 2020. Applicants can go online or call 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041. More details here: CESB: How to apply
6. Support for Fish Harvesters: The Federal Government announced a new measure to provide income support for this year's fishing seasons to eligible self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons crew who cannot access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Other measures include the Fish Haverster Grant that will provide grants to fish harvesters impacted by COVID-19 and changes to Employment insurance to allow self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons to access EI benefits.
What's new: Week of May 4, 2020
1. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): If you have applied for the CEWS, it is important to know that the CRA may call you to verify your information and confirm your eligibility. On this call, the CRA may give approval for your CEWS application.
2. CRA's phone line: If you wish to speak with a CRA agent regarding the Canada Emergency Response Benefit or the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, you can call 1-833-966-2099.
3. Emergency Processing Fund: The Federal Government has announced it will create a $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund to help food producers access more personal protective equipment, adapt to health protocols, automate and modernize facilities, processes and operations and respond to pressures from the COVID 19 pandemic better.
4. National AgriRecovery Inititatives: This initiative will provide up to $125 million in funding to help producers that incur additional costs due to COVID 19.
5. Increase to the Canadian Dairy Commission's borrowing limit: The borrowing limit will increase by $200 million to support costs incurred from the temporary storage of cheese and butter to avoid food waste.
6. Surplus Food Purchase Program: This is an initiative aimed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians. An initial $50 million fund will be provided by the Federal government.
7. Other initiatives to help farmers, food businesses and food suppliers: The Federal government also announced it will increase interim payments from 50% to 75% through AgriStability, a federal, provincial and territorial program designed to help producers who have experienced significant decline in revenue and expand the AgriInsurance program to include shortages as an eligible risk for the horticulture sector.
8. Tariff Relief for Importers of Certain Medical Goods: The Federal Government recently announced it will waive tariffs on certain medical goods, including PPEs (such as gloves and masks) to help reduce the cost of imported PPE for Canadian businesses.
9. Top-ups for Essential Workers: The Federal Government just announced it will provide $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers. Each province or territory will determine which workers will be eligible and how much support will be provided.
What's new: Week of April 27, 2020
1. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Online Application: CRA has launched the online portal for applications. Employers can now apply through My Business Account or through CRA's online portal.
2. Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance: The Federal Government has announced more details with regards to this program. This program will provide forgivable loans to property owners to encourage them to reduce their small business tenants' rent by 75%.
3. Beware of CERB Scams: If you have received a text message informing you that you have a deposit for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. It is a SCAM! Please do not click on the link. Delete the text immediately and inform others. More details on the CERB here: CERB blog
4. Student Aid Package: House of Commons passed the $9 billion aid package to students and new graduates. This includes the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and other initiatives to help students during this time.
What's new: Week of April 20, 2020
1. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy: CRA has made available a page to understand the wage subsidy calculation.
2. Emergency Community Support Fund: The Federal Government announced this support fund to provide additional support to charities and non-profit organizations. The investment will flow through national organizations that have the ability to get funds quickly to local organizations that serve vulnerable populations including United Way Canada, Canadian Red Cross and the Community Foundations of Canada.
3. Proposed Canada Emergency Student Benefit: This benefit will provide support to students and new graduates who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This will provide $1,250 per month to eligible students or $1,750 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities.
4. New Canada Student Service Grant: This grant will provide up to $5,000 for the education (in the fall) of students who choose to do national service and serve their communities.
5. Other Initiatives for students: The Federal Government also announced that it will double the Canada Student Grants to eligible full-time students up to $6,000 and up to $3,600 for part-time students in 2020-21, broaden eligibility for student financial assistance by moving the expected student's and spouse's contributions in 2020-21, raise the maximum weekly amount of the Canada Student Loans Program to a maximum of $350 from $210 in 2020-21, increase existing distinctions-based support for First Nations, Inuit and Metis Nation students and extend expiring federal graduate research scholarships and postdoctoral fellowships and supplement existing federal research grants.
6. Alberta's Emergency Isolation Support: The program has closed. The program successfully provided approximately $91.7 million to 79,596 eligible Albertans since it launched.
7. Alberta's Charitable Donation Matching Program: The Alberta Government has allocated $2 million to be used to match donations to Alberta-based designated charities and non-profits with COVID-19 fundraising campaigns.
What's new: Week of April 13, 20201. Changes to the Eligibility Rules of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): The Federal Government announced the following changes to the eligibility rules of the CERB (changes retroactive to March 15, 2020):
- Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting 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.
2. Potential CERB double payments received: If you received more than $2,000 in CERB payments or have received 2 identical payments from the government, you likely have applied twice and have received more than you are entitled to. According to CRA and Service Canada, they will be in touch with you as soon as possible. You do not need to call them just make sure not to spend that overpayment while you are waiting.
3. New Details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS): Eligible employers will be able to access this wage subsidy provided they see a drop of at least 15% of their revenue in March 2020 and 30% for the following months. More details here: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Blog *Bill C-14 passed laying out the key details of CEWS.
4. Launch of Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): CEBA was launched by the banks this week. Please check your bank's website regarding the CEBA as different banks have different application methods and time frames.
5. Expansion to CEBA: The Government has announced that it is changing the eligibility threshold for CEBA, allowing companies who spent $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019 to be eligible for the CEBA.
6. New Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses: This new program will 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.
7. New Wage Boost for Essential Workers: The Federal Government announced a new measure to cost-share a temporary top up to the salaries of low-income essential workers that the provinces and territories have deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19.
8. Relief for Federally Regulated Pension Plan Sponsors: The Federal government announced that it will provide immediate, temporary relief to sponsors of federally regulated, defined benefit pension plans. This relief will be in the form of a moratorium, through the remainder of 2020, on solvency payment requirements for defined benefit plans.
What's new: Week of April 6, 2020
1. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): You can now apply for the CERB starting this week. Service Canada and CRA are working jointly to deliver the CERB to eligible Canadians. To get started on your application, you will need to answer a few questions. Your answers will determine if you must apply the CERB through Service Canada (EI program) or CRA's My Account. More details here: CERB Blog
2. Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): This program will start to roll out by mid-April instead of the previously announced week of April 6th. Please check your financial institution's website if you are interested in applying. You can also check our blog for more information: CEBA Blog
3. Temporary Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program: The changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program will help small businesses hire and keep workers they need to continue to deliver essential services. Temporary changes include an increase to the wage subsidy so that employers can also receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee, extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021, allowing employers to adapt to support essential services and allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis.