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Quebec: COVID-19 relief measures for your business

We know that this is a difficult time, full of uncertainty. The information you need to run your business changes rapidly, and it can be hard to keep track and make sense of it all.  

In order to relieve some of the pressure on small businesses such as yours, we are gathering all the information you need about government services and supports in Quebec and putting it in this one location. We will continue working with governments to ensure additional relief measures become available for your business as the situation evolves.

Please check back regularly. We will update this page as more information becomes available. 

Mandatory business closures

On December 15, the government of Québec announced that all non-priority commercial enterprises throughout the province must close from December 25, 2020 through January 10, 2021. During that time:

  • Teleworking (working from home) will be mandatory for office workers
  • Personal care services (such as hairdressers and salons) will have to close
  • Restaurants may still serve via delivery and takeout
  • Professional healthcare services  (dentists, optometrists, physiotherapists, osteopaths, and so on) can continue to operate

The complete list of priority commercial enterprises is available on the Government of Québec's website.

If your have any questions, fill out this online form and an information officer from the government will contact you.

Note: Rules on reopening of economic activities and gatherings may vary according to the alert level in your region. You can refer to the following to learn the alert level in your region and the according government directives:

Restriction on number of customers in stores

Since December 4, several types of businesses in Quebec have to reduce the number of customers allowed on their premises. This new measure imposed by the Legault government applies in particular to retail and food establishments and to pharmacies.

If your business falls into one of those categories, you will need to:

  1. Calculate the reception capacity for your company using the following formula: 

    Floor area in m2 accessible to customers ÷ 20 m2
     

  2. Display the capacity of your business clearly and visibly. The government has made available a printable sign that you can use for this purpose.
  3. Take steps that enable people to comply with social distancing and face covering requirements, including while lining up.

Businesses that fail to comply with the new requirements could be subject to fines reaching several thousand dollars.

For more information, you can check out the government's page about the restriction.

Mandatory mask wearing

Since July 18, Santé publique has required the wearing of masks in all closed or partially enclosed public places in Quebec. It is important for you to understand that this requirement applies solely to the public and does not in any way change or void any workplace obligations previously established by the CNESST.

This measure raises many questions. To help answer them, we've put together a FAQ that you can check out right now.

You can also check out the infograph below to find out at a glance if wearing a mask is required for your employees.

How to know if my employee is required to wear a mask?

 

Support for businesses

Help for businesses forced to close because of red zone requirements

The Assistance for Businesses in Regions Under Maximum Alert (ABRUMA) is a loan forgiveness program for businesses ordered to close due to the second wave of COVID-19.

In fact, it is part of two existing loan programs that have been in place since the beginning of the pandemic: the Emergency Assistance for Small-and Medium-Sized Businesses program (PAUPME) and the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses (PACTE).

Under ABRUMA, eligible businesses in need of cash can apply for PAUPME or PACTE loan forgiveness to cover their core operating costs. This means that up to 80% of your loan, or $15,000, would not have to be repaid.

To take advantage of ABRUMA, you must first apply for and obtain a loan under the PAUPME or PACTE programs. Once your loan application has been accepted, you can then apply for loan forgiveness to cover the following core operating costs if they were paid during the targeted closure period

  • municipal and school taxes;
  • rent (the part not covered by another government program);
  • interest on a mortgage;
  • utility costs (e.g., electricity, gas);
  • insurance;
  • telecommunication costs;
  • association fees and licenses.

To apply under the Emergency Assistance for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses program, you need to contact your RCM.

For applications made through the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses, you must contact your account manager or your financial institution.
 

Loan or loan guarantee

To help businesses whose cash flow is affected by the impact of COVID-19, the government has implemented the Emergency Support Plan for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses and the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses (PACTE).

The Emergency Support Plan for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses provides emergency funding of less than $50,000, while the emergency funding available under PACTE starts at $50,000.

Both give funding in the form of a loan or a loan guarantee.

Who is eligible for the Emergency Support Plan for SMEs?

  • businesses in all industry sectors;
  • co-ops;
  • non-profit organizations;
  • social economy enterprises engaged in business activities.

To be eligible, a business must:

  • have been operating in Quebec for at least one year;
  • be temporarily closed, likely to close or show warning signs of closure;
  • be in the process of maintaining, consolidating or restarting its activities;
  • have demonstrated a cause-and-effect relationship between its financial or operational difficulties and the COVID-19 pandemic.

How can I apply for the Emergency Support Plan for SMEs?

Contact your RCM, your municipal office or the agency that manages the Local Investment Fund (LIF) in your RCM. You can find a list of these entities on the web page for this program

How can I take advantage of PACTE?

To avail yourself of this program, you must contact your account or project manager directly if you are a client of Investissement Québec. If you are not already a client, you need to get in touch with your financial institution, which will then contact Investissement Québec.

To reach an account or project manager, please use Investissement Québec's online directory. For more information, see the funding details.

Revenu Québec

To enable you to have more cash in hand, you now have until September 30 to pay any tax balance owing to Revenu Québec or to remit your instalments.

Revenu Québec has also announced that it is suspending tax audits and collection, and will show greater flexibility in respect to payment agreements for tax debts.

It has also announced that it is postponing the deadline for claiming the following:

  • corporate tax credits
  • the refundable tax credit for international financial centres
  • the non-refundable tax credit for the development of e-business
  • the deduction for scientific research and experimental development expenditures

Take note that these new delays apply for claims made after March 16, 2020 but before December 31, 2020.

Hydro-Québec

On March 22, Hydro-Québec announced that it will stop applying administration charges to unpaid bills for all customers and will not cut off power to anyone for non-payment.

Financière agricole du Québec

La Financière agricole du Québec (FADQ) announced the following support measures:

  • You can quickly receive a $50,000 loan guarantee, free of personal property or real estate property guarantee.
    • This measure is available to all clients who have financing with La FADQ and who are experiencing temporary cash flow issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic.
    • You will have a 10-year repayment term and a 12-month capital repayment relief period.
    • To apply, please contact your La FADQ financing advisor.
  • Investment grant payments scheduled for June 1 will be made on May 1 instead.
  • The deadline to apply for and make a contribution payment to the Agristability Program is now July 3, 2020.
  • You can receive an interim payment of 75% of program benefits.
    • To apply, please contact the Financial Information Collection and Processing Team.

FADQ also announced a series of measures, as follows:

  • You can request a six-month moratorium on loan repayments.
  • You will have until May 21, 2020, to join the Crop Insurance Program.
  • Notices of assessment are extended from June 1 to July 1, 2020.
  • You can request interim AgriStability payments in order to receive these payments quickly.
  • No assessment notices will be sent until July 1, 2020, for the Farm Income Stabilization Insurance Program. In addition, final payments for the 2019 insurance year will be made in April in the cattle and pig sectors, and in May in the sheep sector. The second advance for cereal and canola compensation will be paid in April.
CNESST

In anticipation of the reopening of the economy, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) has prepared a toolkit for employers and workers.

It also announced various relief measures for workers; these measures, that came into effect on March 20 and will continue until further notice:

  • If you receive the 75 per cent Wage Subsidy, you are not required to pay insurance premiums to the CNESST for the weeks when your employees do not work. If you have paid the premium on wages that are now exempt, an adjustment will be made when you submit your 2020 Statement of Wages. 
  • You now have until August 31 to pay your CNESST premiums.
  • During this period the CNESST will not apply interests or fees.
  • You will have until June 1 to file your 2019 Wages Return (Déclaration des salaires 2019).
  • The CNESST will tolerate longer delays for filing complaints-related documents.
  • It will only deliver statements of offence for serious incidents, like a serious accident or a death.
  • Judgments will only be enforced in case of “force majeure.”
  • Formal notices will also be sent in case of “force majeure”
Caisse de dépôt

The Caisse de dépôt et  placement du Québec (CDPQ) announced that it is making available approximately $4 billion to support Quebec businesses whose operations are temporarily disrupted by COVID-19.

These funds are intended to meet the particular cash needs of companies that fulfil specific criteria. Under these criteria, a company must:

  • Be seeking financing of over $5 million.
  • Have been profitable before the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • Have a promising growth outlook in its industry sector.

To apply for funding, you will need to complete the required form.

Régie des alcools, des courses et des jeux
  • No annual fee notification has been issued since March 18.
    • As a result, no penalties will be imposed on the affected licensees 
    • And no licenses will be cancelled.
  • Any expiring permit, license or authorization will be renewed automatically or will remain in effect. 
  • The normal deadlines have been suspended for:
    • applying for or renewing a permit or license,
    • applying for the renewal of an authorization,
    • paying expenses or fees
    • making representations
  • When the situation returns to normal, the Régie will inform the affected licensees of the procedure they will need to follow with respect to paying or renewing their fees.

Other measures are in place for meeting permits, liquor licences, bingo, draws, publicity contests, amusement machines, combat sports, horse racing and liquor manufacturer licenses. Click here (French only) for full details.

Tools & Forms

Here's a list of documents that could be useful for your business:

  • Professional Travel Letter: use this template of supporting documentation for an employee travelling from one controlled region to another. Simply replace the text between square brackets with the relevant information for your situation and your business.
  • Best Practices for food establishment: read this Advisory from the Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Pêcheries et de l'Alimentation du Québec (MAPAQ) to find best practices for protecting customers in your establishment.
  • Best health practices when moving: consult this guide published by the Société d'habitation du Québec (Quebec Housing Corporation) for advice on what precautions you should take before, during and after moving.

Support for self-employed

Revenu Québec

To enable you to have more cash in hand, you now have until September 30 to pay any tax balance owing to Revenu Québec or to remit your instalments.

Revenu Québec has also announced that it is suspending tax audits and collection, and will show greater flexibility in respect to payment agreements for tax debts.

Furthermore, you now have until June 30 to make your GST/QST and customs duty payments.

Hydro-Québec

On March 22, Hydro-Québec announced that it will stop applying administration charges to unpaid bills for all customers and will not cut off power to anyone for non-payment.

Support for Individuals

Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers ($400/month)

The Quebec government has introduced the Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers (IPREW) to make up the wage difference between individuals receiving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and low-income essential workers.

Under the IPREW, eligible workers will receive $100 a week, i.e., $400 a month, over a maximum period of 16 weeks. This benefit will be retroactive to March 15.

The IPREW benefit will be added to the worker’s basic wage and will be taxable. 

Eligible workers can apply beginning May 19 and must follow these steps:

  • Register now for:
    • My account for individuals and
    • online direct deposit. If you are already registered, make sure the banking information on file is up to date.
  • Starting May 19, 2020, use the Apply for the Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers online service.

The first payment will be made on May 27, 2020.

To be eligible, you must:

  • work part-time or full-time in one of the essential service sectors during the program period;
  • receive gross wages of $550 or less per week;
  • have an annual employment income of at least $5,000 and a total annual income of no more than $28,600;
  • be at least 15 years old when you apply for assistance under the IPREW;
  • have been resident in Québec on December 31, 2019, and plan to reside in Québec throughout 2020.
CNESST

In anticipation of the reopening of the economy, the Commission des normes, de l’équité, de la santé et de la sécurité du travail (CNESST) has prepared a toolkit for employers and workers.

It also announced various relief measures for workers; these measures, that came into effect on March 20 and will continue until further notice:

  • There will be no penalty for workers who are unable to attend their treatments.
  • Medical and rehabilitation treatments performed remotely, such as by phone or online, will be reimbursed.
  • The treatment procedure for the Safe Maternity program has been streamlined. A pregnant or breastfeeding worker may now stop working even before seeing her doctor if the risk of COVID‑19 is present, and under certain conditions.

What is CFIB doing?

CFIB has taken quick action to help SMEs cope with COVID-19. We are in regular communication with various media outlets to share the reality that small and medium-sized businesses and self-employed workers are experiencing.

Working collaboratively with governments, we have achieved a number of gains, such as the creation of the Temporary Aid for Workers Program and relief for tax obligations (tax returns, instalments, tax accounts).

As the Government of Quebec lays out its plan for reopening the economy, we are pushing, based on the needs voiced by our members, for:

  • Allowing no contact delivery in Quebec as most Canadian provinces do
  • Clear guidelines about good hygiene practices for employees and clients.
  • Regular assurance from authorities that it is safe to keep business open.
  • Campaigns encouraging consumers to buy at their neighbourhood businesses.
  • Ongoing financial relief from governments and banks.
  • Government to ensure access to PPE.

We continue to call for further assistance from the federal government, the Quebec government and municipalities. For example, we are asking the Quebec government to:

  • Provide SMEs with emergency grants of up to $5000 per month to help pay for rent;
  • Protect commercial tenants from eviction for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • Implement financial assistance measures also for self-employed workers;
  • Implement direct financial assistance measures for SMEs; 
  • Temporarily halt QST remittances;
  • Provide wage subsidies to businesses to help them retain their employees.

To learn about the actions we have taken during the crisis, please consult our timeline.

FAQ: Managing COVID-19 in the workplace 

To help you through these difficult times, we've created a Frequently Asked Questions page that answers the most common questions SMEs have about COVID-19. Our FAQ also contains information on the relief measures provided by the federal government and by Quebec municipalities. Visit our Small Business Help Centre to learn more.