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Saskatchewan municipalities during COVID-19: what are they doing to support you?

Just like the federal and provincial governments, municipal governments also have a crucial role to play in helping your business survive the COVID-19 pandemic. Municipalities can—and should—put in place relief measures to support you, your employees and your business.

CFIB is fighting for support for your business from all levels of government. Our recommendations are directly based on feedback gathered from our members via regular surveys. Here’s what we’re telling municipal governments in Saskatchewan they can do to help—and here’s what they’ve done so far.

CFIB's recommendations for Saskatchewan's municipalities

We are asking municipalities to adopt, where applicable, the following measures to further support our province’s small business owners during this period of unprecedented economic uncertainty as the economy begins to reopen based on your priorities for business relief:

  1. Freeze commercial property taxes at their current level: In fact, the City of Moose Jaw actually cancelled its planned 2.3 per cent property tax increase in 2020 through spending reductions and introduced a Small Business Support program which gives a $500, one-time property tax credit to Moose Jaw businesses holding Category A or Category B business licenses.
    •  Consider extending the deferral deadline for property taxes (which is currently set for September 30th, 2020 in most municipalities) for an additional three months.
  2. Reduce or eliminate fees for business-related permits (e.g. business licenses, renovation permits, etc.):
  3. Waive fees for patio permits, specifically for restaurants and bars seeking to open a sidewalk patio over the summer to create additional seating capacity while COVID-19 precautions are in place (e.g. recently, Regina’s City Council decided to waive fees on permits for mobile food vendors and outdoor restaurant seating. The City of Vancouver, City of Prince Rupert, and the City of Winnipeg have also waived patio permit fees.).
  4. Streamline and accelerate business-related permit approvals (e.g. patio permits, construction projects and home renovations);
  5. Where applicable, pay money owing to businesses quickly (e.g. contracts with municipalities, etc.); and
  6. As businesses reopen and employees return to work, increase access to safe and reliable public transit for workers (where applicable).

Which municipalities have put in place relief measures already?

Here’s what municipalities across Saskatchewan have done so far to help small business. 

Estevan

Utility payments: 

The City has made the following changes to current utility collections activities:

  • Utility disconnections due to arrears will be suspended until September 1, 2020;
  • Late payment charges will be suspended on all utility accounts until September 1, 2020.

The city will continue to generate utility bills, reminders and other related notices for customers who are in arrears to keep them informed of their current situation.

Property taxes: 

On your notice, your 2020 Property Tax due date will still show July 31, 2020, however the City is extending a two-month grace period to provide you with additional time to pay your 2020 Property Tax. You will not incur any late payment penalties on your 2020 Property Tax if you pay the full amount due by September 30, 2020.

For more information, please see the City’s website.

Melville

Property taxes & Utility payments:

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of Melville is providing flexibility and short term financial relief for residents and business owners.

The following payment deferral program has been set in place:

  • Utility connections due to arrears are suspended until September 30, 2020
  • Late payment charges and interest charges are suspended on all utility and accounts receivable accounts until September 30, 2020.
  • Extended the 2020 property tax deadline to September 30, 2020 & no penalties will be incurred before this date on current taxes.
     
Moose Jaw

Utility payments: 

Utility disconnections for non-payment be discontinued effective immediately and collections processes be relaxed and focus on longer-term payment arrangements.

As well, businesses and residents will now have 12 months to pay their utility bills and 15 months to pay their property taxes without penalty.

Property taxes: 

May 11: City Council cancelled City’s planned 2.3% property tax increase in 2020 with a spending reduction of over $670,000.

Seizures of properties for non-payment of taxes be discontinued effective immediately.

Small Business Support Program:

The City has introduced a Small Business Support program that gives a $500.00, one-time property tax credit to Moose Jaw businesses holding Category A or Category B business licenses. The funds (estimated over $150,000) will come from the City’s Accumulated Surplus. Applications will open on Friday, May 15 on the City of Moose Jaw's website.

For more information please see the City’s website

North Battleford

Property taxes:

Due to the unprecedented financial and social impacts by the COVID-19 pandemic, the City of North Battleford has postponed the deadline to pay 2020 property taxes. August 31st, 2020 is the new due date to pay property taxes without penalty.
 

Prince Albert

Property Taxes:

Property owners that have suffered serious financial hardship due to COVID-19 as a result of employment income interruption or business impact will be able to establish that they qualify under City Council’s COVID-19 response deferral program to have their tax payment deadline moved to September 30, 2020.  Impacted taxpayers must submit to the City by no later than June 15, 2020 at 4:00p.m a signed form establishing that they meet the criteria for property tax deferral. Declaration forms will be available on the City’s website and will be able to be submitted electronically.

For those who do not meet the criteria of serious financial impact or that do not apply, the tax deadline will remain at June 30, 2020.

Utility Payments: 

The City will continue to bill for utility services as normal, however, effective April 1, 2020, the City will cease charging penalties on water accounts in arrears until September 30, 2020. A reminder letter indicating a past due account will still be mailed. Prior to the account approaching the three month mark, the property will be provided with notice to encourage the account holder to contact the water department to arrange for a payment plan. 

Parking Regulations: 

The City has relaxed parking regulations and will not be issuing tickets for expired meters in the downtown or timed limitations in residential areas.

For more information please see the City’s website.  
 

Regina

Regina Economic Recovery Grant

Are you a Regina business that has struggled through the COVID-19 pandemic and associated re-launch? If so, you might be eligible to apply for the Regina Economic Recovery Grant to help you recover from COVID-19. The grant is intended to support the short-term needs and longer-term recovery efforts required for Regina businesses.

Businesses can apply for grant funding in one of two phases:

Phase 1: Matching grants of $1000, $2500 or $5,000 (August - December 2020)
Phase 2: Matching grants of up to $25,000 for longer-term diversification initiatives that will support business sustainability (Beginning January 2021)

Maximum grant amounts are not guaranteed, and lesser amounts may be allocated at the discretion of the City. Businesses are only eligible for funding during one of the phases. Assess your business needs and the timing funding is released to determine which phase to apply in.

Applications will be accepted weekly beginning Monday, August 17 at 9 a.m. Each intake period will be open for 24 hours or until the City receive 40 applications, whichever occurs first.

 

Steps for Applying:

  • Read about the Regina Economic Recovery Grant
  • Check below to see if your business is eligible
  • Determine your funding needs and during what phase (Phase 1 or Phase 2) funding is required
  • Ensure your business can match the funds being requested
  • Prepare your application answers (See Preparing Your Application) and gather all necessary documentation
  • Apply using the online form

 

Eligibility

  • Businesses must be located within Regina City limits and operate within a non-residential property.
  • Businesses must have experienced a decline in net revenues or financial hardship as a result of COVID-19.
  • Businesses/organizations must not be in tax arrears or owing fees or fines to the City of Regina. If leasing space, the business/organization must be in good standing with their landlord. ‘Good standing’ means either that lease payments are up to date or the lessee has a formal agreement with their landlord to address overdue lease payments.
  • Only business owners or an appropriate designated authority can apply.

For more information, and to apply for the City's grant program, please visit the Regina Economic Recovery Grant webpage.

 

Utility payments: 

Council has approved the Utility Payment Deferral Program to enable residents and businesses to defer payments toward their water utility account for up to six months with no late payment charges or interest charges applied.

The City is suspending all payment collection activity on overdue utility accounts, and no water service will be shut off for residents with outstanding account balances or who are unable to pay. Residents are also encouraged to contact the City to discuss a customized payment plan that will provide the financial flexibility they need.

 

Property taxes:

As an added measure to ease financial concerns for residents, the City is posting postpone the deadline to pay 2020 property taxes. Tax notices will be issued on schedule in May but property owners will have until after September 30 before penalties are applied.

For more information please see the City of Regina’s COVID-19 website.
 

Saskatoon

Utility payments: 

The City has made the following changes to current utility collections activities:

  • Utility disconnections due to arrears will be suspended until September 30, 2020;
  • Late payment charges will be suspended on all utility accounts until September 30, 2020; and

The City will continue to generate utility bill reminders and other related notices for customers who are in arrears to keep them informed of their current situation.

Have utility-related questions? Please call the city’s Revenue Customer Service Representatives at 306-975-2400.

Property taxes: 

The City has extended the 2020 Property Tax deadline to September 30, 2020, allowing additional time for residents' to pay their 2020 Property Tax. On your notice, your 2020 Property Tax due date will still show as June 30, 2020.

However:

  • The City is extending a three-month grace period to provide you with additional time to pay your 2020 Property Tax.
  • You will not incur any late payment penalties on your 2020 Property Tax if you pay the full amount due by September 30, 2020.

For more information, please see the City website.

Swift Current

Utility payments: 

Effective immediately, the City’s Financial Services Department has:

  • Suspended Utility disconnections due to non-payment until September 30, 2020.
  • Suspended late payment charges on all Utility accounts until September 30, 2020.
  • Suspended all collection activities.

Property taxes: 

The City’s 2020 Property Tax Notices will be delivered to property owners by the end of May 2020, and the Due Date on these notices will be changed to September 30, 2020

The City has extended a three-month grace period to provide commercial and residential customers with additional time to pay 2020 Property Taxes. The original due date was June 30, 2020.

For more information, please see the City’s COVID-19 website
 

RM of Edenwold

Property taxes:

RM of Edenwold council approved a 15 per cent reduction in 2020 mill rates for all residential, industrial/commercial and agricultural properties at the May 5 council meeting.                                       

These reductions are in addition to early tax payment discounts and council's previous decision (April 14) that no late fees or penalty fees will be charged on utilities for the remainder of the year.

For more information, please visit the RM's website.

FAQ on COVID-19

We’re dedicated to supporting your business through this difficult time by compiling answers to the most common COVID-19 questions and keeping you up to date on the latest relief measures both the federal government and the Saskatchewan government. Visit our Small Business Help Center to learn more.