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COVID-19: How the federal government is supporting small business

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we know you need cash flow to keep your doors open and employees paid. We’re pushing the federal government to provide the relief measures you need to keep your business alive. 

So far, here’s what the federal government is doing to support small business. We will continue updating this page with the latest information as it becomes available—and continue pushing governments for greater relief.

For all the details, read the federal government’s full program

Financial Support

$40,000 Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

Banks and Credit unions will provide interest-free loans (for the first year) of up to $40,000 to employers with between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. General details of the program can be found here.

Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).

Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans. Here are the details for the main financial institutions:

CEBA is a lending program that can help small firms pay their expenses that cannot be deferred during this challenging period. The loans are backed by the Government of Canada and do not carry any interest and have up to a $10,000 forgivable portion when the loan is paid back, starting in 2021.  Banks are administering these loans in different ways. Some offer a $40,000 term loan and others are offering a line of credit up to $40,000 – sometimes through a zero-interest credit card.  
 
If your business would be helped by the $10,000 forgivable portion but is concerned about incurring more debt during this crisis, you are able to take out the full $40,000 loan and set aside the $30,000 to ensure you have the funds to repay the loan in its entirety when it becomes due. By doing this, the $10,000 acts as a non-repayable grant, helping the business pay some its ongoing costs until revenues improve.  Keep in mind your business would have to take out the full $40,000 in order to get the $10,000 maximum benefit.  If you take out a smaller amount with institutions offering a line of credit approach, only 25% of that amount would be non-repayable.  

It is also important to note that the loan is interest free up until December 31, 2022. To qualify for forgiveness, the loan needs to be repaid by then (i.e., if paid down earlier, a payment of 75% of the loan value would fully extinguish the payment obligations on the loan). After that date, the loan converts into a 3 year term loan, with 5% yearly interest, and there will be no forgiveness of 25% up to $10,000.

We are also receiving many inquiries and comments from members experiencing issues and problems when they are applying for the $40,000 interest free loan. To help us collect comments and issues small business owners are having with CEBA, we have created an email address: [email protected]. Small business owners can send us an email at that address to share their issues about CEBA, such as if a bank is not providing a reason for a denial, issues with the website, not receiving proper answers, etc. … We will collect those comments and share them with the banks and credit unions to help improve customer service and accessibility to the program.

For more details, visit our COVID-19 FAQ
 

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA) 

On April 16, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a new rent assistance program aimed at those with commercial properties:

  • It will be a combination of loans and forgivable loans.
  • The loans will be offered to property owners on the condition they dramatically reduce the rent of their commercial tenants.
  • The federal government will work with their provincial and territorial counterparts to encourage them to also contribute to financing, but will carry the cost on their own if necessary.
  • The provinces/territories will be required to enforce the rent reductions, as the federal government does not have jurisdiction to do so.

The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June. 

The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.

Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

For more details, visit our COVID-19 FAQ or the CMHC information page

Government financing
  • The new Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) provides $65 billion of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges. Funding will be available through BDCEDC as well as through your bank/credit union.
  • There’s been an increase in Farm Credit Canada, which provides credit to farmers and the agri-food sector.
  • Farmers with an outstanding Advance Payment Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will have an additional six months to repay the loan.
  • Farmers who still have interest-free loans outstanding will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $100,000 interest-free portion for 2020-2021, as long as their total APP advances remain under $1 million.
  • The government will provide increased flexibility to lenders to defer mortgage payments on homeowner government-insured mortgage loans (details to be announced).
  • Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF): $675 million to give financing support to small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures, through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund is $962 million economic emergency program administered by the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs).  

For all the details, please click on the link of your regional agency, or visit our FAQ section on the program.

Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)

Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)

Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)

Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)

Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor)

Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD)
 

CRA

75% Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

The federal government is providing a 75% wage subsidy for employee wages in the private sector. Businesses that are able to show a drop in revenue will be eligible to receive the subsidy for the wages they have paid their employees from March 15th to June 6th.

The application process is available through CRA My Business Account since April 27. More details from the government are available here

The CRA has provided a Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator available now.

The CRA presented a video that you can watch for free on YouTube on What you need to know about the 75% wage subsidy

Who is eligible?

  • Businesses (regardless of the number of employees)
  • Individual employers 
  • Partnerships
  • Not for profit organizations
  • Charities

that experienced:

  • 15% reduction of their gross revenue in March; and/or
  • 30% reduction of their gross revenue in April or May.

Whose wages can I subsidize?

The subsidy is applicable to employees' wages paid by the employer on the condition that they are not without pay for 14 or more consecutive day during the eligibility period.  

Employees who have been laid off or furloughed can become eligible retroactively when you decide to provide them retroactive pay and status for the claiming period. You must have already paid these employees in order to include them in your subsidy. If you decide to do so, inform your employee in writing that this will affect their eligibility to CERB.  

If you are unsure whether a worker is an employee, the easiest way to find out is to check if their employment income is reflected on a T4 or T4Sum. 

How do I calculate a reduction in revenue?

You will have two options:

Option 1: You can compare your revenue for the month you wish to receive the subsidy with your revenue for the same month last year and show a 30% decrease or a 15% for March.

As the subsidy is for salaries paid since March 15, the three claiming periods are the following:

  • March 15 to April 11: compare March 2020 over March 2019.
  • April 12 to May 9: compare April 2020 over April 2019
  • May 10 to June 6: compare May 2020 over May 2019

Option 2: You can compare your gross revenue for the month you wish to receive the subsidy with your average of gross revenue from January and February 2020.

Once you chose an option, you will have to keep using it for all the claiming periods you are applying for. 

Regardless of the options you use, you will have the option to use accrual or cash accounting. Once you chose an accounting method, you will also have to keep using it for all the claiming periods you are applying for.

More details to come. 

What is the eligible period?

For salaries paid between March 15 and June 6.

How much can I receive?

  • To calculate the amount of subsidy you will be eligible to receive on remuneration paid between March 15 and June 6, 2020:  
  • determine which is less:  
    • the amount of remuneration paid up to a maximum of $847/week; or  
    • 75% of the pre-crisis weekly remuneration. 
  • Then compare that with 75% of the remuneration paid to a maximum of $847/week to see which amount is greater.  
  • The maximum subsidy is $847 per week 

More details to come on how to define pre-crisis weekly remuneration.

For example,

  • If you have one employee hired in January with a pre-crisis weekly pay of $1000 and that this employee has now a weekly pay of $800, you will receive a subsidy of $750.
  • If you have one employee hired in January with a pre-crisis weekly pay of $1000 and that this employee has now a weekly pay of $500, you will receive a subsidy of $500.
  • If you hire a new employee in April, with a weekly pay of $500, you will receive $375.

Do I have to pay the remaining 25%?

All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% and self-attest to their best effort.

What about payroll contributions?

The Government is proposing to expand the CEWS by introducing a new 100% refund for certain employer-paid contributions to EI, CPP, QPP and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan. This will come on top of the subsidy received and will not be capped.

Criteria:

This refund would cover 100% of employer-paid contributions for eligible employees for each week throughout which those employees are on leave with pay and for which the employer is eligible to claim for the CEWS. 

An employee will be considered to be on leave with pay throughout a week if that employee is remunerated by the employer for that week but does not perform any work. This refund would not be available for employees that are on leave with pay for only a portion of a week.

How it works:

You will have to continue to collect and remit employer and employee contributions to each program as usual. You will then apply for a refundat the same time that you apply for the CEWS.

Does it cover the business owner or shareholder wage?

It depends on the structure of the business. If they receive a salary and a T4 at the end of the year, their salary should be covered. However, we are still waiting on confirmation. 

When can I expect to receive the first payment?

It is expected to take 3 to 6 weeks. Take some time to prepare your account for the last year. It will save you some time when applying for the subsidy.

What if I am not eligible?

You will be able to use the 10% wage subsidy (see details below). Using the 10% wage subsidy will reduce the amount you will be able to receive from the 75% wage subsidy.

Try applying for the 75% wage subsidy anyways. This is no promise that you will receive the wage, but exceptions may be made if proper evidence is demonstrated. When the portal is available, be ready by having:

  • Your financial books/legers/journals up to date
  • Proof based on your finances to show that your business did have a decrease in cashflow/revenue/gross revenue
  • Determine your payroll (Ie. this could be by requesting your T4Sum from CRA)

What if I have to lay off my employees?

You will still receive the subsidy for the remunerations paid after March 15 (if you are eligible). 

For example, If you are eligible for the claiming period going from March 15 to April 11 but you had to lay off you employees on March 31, you will receive the subsidy for remunerations paid between March 15 and March 31. Your lay off employees will remain eligible to receive CERB.

More details from the government are available here.

For more information at the 75% wage subsidy, visit our COVID-19 FAQ.

10% Wage Subsidy

Eligible employers are

  • Canadian-Controlled Private Corporation (incorporated) eligible to the small business deduction or non-profit organizations, registered charities; and 
  • Have an existing business number & payroll program account with CRA on March 18; and 
  • Pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other remunerations to an employee. 

Eligible period:

For salaries paid between March 18 to June 20, 2020 

How do I calculate the subsidy? 

It is a 10% subsidy, so if you have 2 employees that you pay $1,500 each, every two weeks, the subsidy will be $150 * 2 = $300 

What is the maximum subsidy I can receive? 

Over the 90 days period, the limit is $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer 

How do I receive the subsidy? 

You can reduce your remittance of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax that you send to the CRA by the amount of the subsidy. You will be able to keep a portion of your employees’ income tax instead of giving it all to CRA 

For example, if you have 2 employees for a total bimonthly labour cost of $3,000 and you deduct $700 from their pay for the federal and provincial income tax, you will be able to remit to CRA only $400 and keep the remaining $300 for you as you have a subsidy of $300 (as calculated above) 

The calculation is the following: Planed income Tax remittance – 10% subsidy = New Income Tax remittance 

You cannot however reduce your remittance of Canada Pension Plan contributions (CPP) or Employment Insurance (EI) premiums. 

When can I receive the subsidy?  

In the first remittance period that includes remuneration paid between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020 

For more details, see the Frequently Asked Questions from CRA 

Tax filing & Payments

Deadline extensions

  • Individuals have until June 1, 2020, to submit their income tax return.
  • For trusts (having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019), tax filing is deferred until May 1, 2020. 

Payment Deferral 

Individuals and businesses will be able to defer their income tax payment (for taxes owe between March 18, 2020 and September 2020) until after August 31, 2020. 

Payment deferral for GST/HST remittances

Businesses will have until June 30 to remit GST/HST due to the government. This applies to 

  • Monthly filers for amount collected in February, March and April for
  • Quarterly filers for amount collected between January 1 and March 31.
  • Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalment are due in March, April or May 

See more details here.

Payment deferral for customs duties remittances

Payment deadlines for customs duties and GST on imports collected in March, April, and May are being deferred to June 30.

For more information on tax filings & deferrals, visit our COVID-19 FAQ.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

This will replace the emergency care benefit and the emergency support benefit previously announced. Those who are not longer receiving employment income due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, will be able to receive temporary income support through the CERB.

How much can I receive? 

A flat rate of $2,000 a month for up to four months. The benefit is taxable but no tax will be taken directly from the cheque, instead it will be payable next year.

Who can apply? 

The CERB will cover workers residing in Canada who:

  • Have lost their job 
  • Are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19 
  • Are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures  
  • Are still employed, but are not receiving any income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19 

and:

  • Had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application (could be employment income, self-employment income or dividends from a business taxed at the small business rate) ; and
  • Are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income

The CERB will apply to: 

  •  Wage earners 
  •  Contract workers 
  •  Self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). This includes sole-proprietors. 

Can I receive CERB and EI in the same time?

No, Canadians cannot receive EI regular and sickness benefits and CERB in the same time but:

  • Those who are already receiving EI regular benefits will continue to receive the same benefits until the end of their benefit period. If these benefits end before October 3, 2020, they may then apply for the CERB if they meet the eligibility requirements.
  • EI claims of those who became eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits March 15th onward will be automatically processed through the CERB. After 4 months of receiving CERB, they will still be able to apply for their regular EI benefits if they are still unemployed. Receiving CERB first will not affect their eligibility to receive EI benefits after. 

Can I receive benefits from my province and CERB in the same time?

Yes. For example, in Quebec you can receive the temporary aid for workers from the Quebec government and CERB from the federal government. 

How do I apply? 

There are two ways to apply:

  • Online with CRA My Account
  • Over the phone with an automated phone service by calling the 1-800-959-2019

You will have to re-apply every month.

More details here.

Note: Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) deliver this benefit jointly so If you have already applied for Employment Insurance, you do not need to re-apply.

When can I apply?

Canadians will be able to apply starting April 6 and will begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB will be paid every four weeks and be available until October 3, 2020. 

To avoid issues with the CRA portal, the best day to apply will depends of your month of birth. If you were born in:

  • January, February and March, the best day is April 6
  • April, May and June, the best day is April 7
  • July, August and September, the best day is April 8
  • October, November and December, the best day is April 9

In order to receive your benefit faster, make sure that you have signed-up for direct deposit with CRA and that the information you provided is up to date.

More details here.

See the full FAQ from CRA here.

Can I be employed and receive the CERB? 

The Federal Government has announced that if you are earning less than $1000 per month, you can work and claim CERB. More information is to come. Anyone earning more than $1000 per month will not be eligible for CERB. 

I’m a seasonal employee – do I still qualify for CERB?

Yes, if you have seasonal employment and can’t find a job due to COVID-19 you are eligible for CERB provided you meet all the eligibility criteria.  

My EI ran out, do I qualify for CERB? 

The federal government announced that anyone whose EI claim ran out after January 1, 2020, will be eligible for CERB. More details are to come.  

For more information on CERB, visit our COVID-19 FAQ.

Other CRA measures to help small businesses
  • Boosting Canada Child Benefit payments by 300$ per child
  • CRA will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act as a temporary administrative measure.
  • Audits: No more post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks.
  • Collections: Collections activities on new debts will be suspended until further notice, and flexible payment arrangements will be available. More details here.
  • The Liaison Officer Service will be available over the phone to discuss tax measures that are being put in place to help small business owners and self-employed individuals in the face of COVID-19. Request a Liaison Officer here.

For more details, read the CRA Covid-19 web page and our COVID-19 FAQ

 

Employment Insurance

EI sickness benefits

Regarding the EI sickness benefits: 

  • The one-week waiting period is waived for 6 months for workers in imposed quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate. Application may still take several weeks.
  • There is no need for a medical certificate to apply.
  • Applications to sickness benefits after march 15, and not yet processed, will be automatically considered as an application to CERB. 

Note: For your employee to receive their first payment faster, ensure that you do not use the ROE code K for other as it will pull it out of automatic processing.
 

For more information, visit our COVID-19 FAQ.

Work Sharing Program

The Work Sharing Program is a three-way agreement that can be negotiated between Service Canada, the employer and the employee to provide EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers. Changes to the program are:

  • Extension of the maximum duration from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. 
  • The 30 day wait period will be waived for only those who have used the work-sharing program in the past. 
  • Businesses can now see their application being accepted within 10 days instead of 30. 

For more information, visit our COVID-19 FAQ.

Other Support

Canada Post

Mail hold service:

Customers requesting Hold Mail service between March 13 and April 13 will get it for free. Residential and business customers must register online and fees will be refunded after purchase. The offer may be extended beyond April 13.

Mail Forwarding services:

Emergency Mail Forwarding for business customers who need it is offered free of charge online as of April 3. Business customers who already purchased the service as of March 13 will be able to receive a refund by calling customer service. This was a request of the CFIB.

See more information on the FAQ page of Canada Post

Canada Summer Jobs Program

The temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program for this year include:

  • Increasing the wage subsidy from 50% to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee.
  • Extending the end date for employment to February 28, 2021.
  • Allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services.
  • Allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis.
  • Organizations providing essential services and that could provide youth jobs but did not apply for the program this year could be able to participate (details to come).

I have applied. How will the updates affect my business if I am approved in May?

  • Private and public sector employers can now receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee instead of the previous 50%.
  • Employers will be allowed to hire staff on a part-time basis
  • Agreed upon contract can be extended to February 28, 2021
  • I have not applied to this program, but I am an essential service who could really benefit from this program. How will the updates affect my business?
  •  Local MPs will be able to recommend businesses they deem as an essential service in their communities for consideration to be late applicants into the CSJ Program
  • Government has not announced if there will be an application system available to date. If you would like your local MP to consider you, we encourage you to write them a letter explaining your situation as an essential service and how this program could benefit you and your community.

Check out the government websites for more on the Canada summer jobs program requirements & the changes announced by Trudeau.
 

What is CFIB doing?

Since the beginning of the pandemic crisis, CFIB has been listening to its members and working overtime to push policy makers at all levels of government to provide economic relief measures for small businesses during the COVID-19 outbreak. 

CFIB has heard how difficult it has been from small business owners reaching us through phone calls, emails, social media, webinars and our regular surveys. We then relay these stories and survey results to all levels of government so they can quickly understand the challenges facing small businesses right across Canada. All this information drives our policy proposals and lobbying efforts to get relief measures to the many small businesses that need it to keep their business. 

Highlights of what CFIB has been able to get from the federal government since the start of the current crisis:

  • Expansion of the work-sharing program 
  • Pause on non-essential audits
  • Deferral of the payment of any income tax amounts and penalties suspended 
  • Introduction of a 10% wage subsidy program 
  • Expansion of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to include the self-employed
  • Expansion of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)to a 75% wage subsidy program
  • Changes to the CEWS to allow more firms to access it. These include:
    • Revenue drop test to access the wage subsidy program lowered to 15% in gross revenues for the month of March (still at 30% for April and May)
    • A firm will be able to compare their sales to the same month last year OR January and February 2020. This will help new and growing firms who may not have qualified based on a comparison to last year
    • Introducing the option to use cash accounting in place of the accrual method
    • The extension of CEWS beyond the current June 6th limit
  • Deferral of GST/HST payment until June 30 
  • Introduction and improvement of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to provide some needed cash to address fixed costs. CEBA provides up to $40,000 interest free loans with 25% forgivable if paid back by end of 2022.
  • Canada Post eliminating the fee for mail forwarding 
  • BDC opens financing to bars, clubs and cannabis businesses 
  • Dividends to be considered as eligible revenue in order to calculate the $ 5,000 minimum income in the last 12 months to be eligible to CERB.
  • Financial support for farmers and the agri-food sector to help pay the cost of the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad.
  • Financial support for SMEs to pay commercial rent.
  • This establishment of the Emergency Processing Fund and Launching national AgriRecovery initiatives

We keep working hard to ensure that all small businesses in need have access to support programs that will help them get through this crisis and allow their business to thrive once the crisis is over. 

CFIB will continue to propose changes and improvements to all the major support programs based on your feedback. 

We sent an open letter all MPs this week with key recommendations on improving COVID-19 emergency programs. Read our full list of recomendations below. 

Improving the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

Extend CEWS beyond the current June 6th limit for as long as various levels of emergency provisions are in place. Government should prolong CEWS into the recovery period so that SMEs can rehire staff to help get their business restarted and allow time for customers to return. 

Extend the employer payroll tax rebate for all staff on payroll who come under CEWS and not just for those on furlough. 

When CEWS audits are done in the future, CRA should show flexibility around the amounts to be paid back should the revenue drops fall short of the 15% or 30% threshold. If a business is 5% or less short of the threshold, there should not be any expectation of repayment of the subsidy. 

Make the employee, not employer, accountable for ensuring there is no overlap between CEWs and CERB. Do not place the burden of verifying if a returning or a new employee is already receiving other benefits on the employer as it may deter re-entry into the workplace. This could be addressed in 2020 income tax return for employees. 
 

Improving the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

CFIB proposed changes and improvement to the CERB:

  1. The federal government must restate that individuals should not abuse CERB and if they are able to work, they should.
Improving the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

Expand eligibility for CEBA. The payroll eligibility range between $20,000 and $1.5 million leaves out 25% of independent businesses according to CFIB’s COVID surveys. To improve fairness in accessing CEBA, we propose the following improvements:

  • Allow businesses that pay owners and families with dividends to access the program (for example, active businesses that paid out between $15,000 and $135,000 in non-eligible dividends). 
  • Allow businesses that pay contractors rather than employees to access the program. 
  • Allow those who receive payments from independent contractors (eg. chair rentals in hair salons) to access the program. 
  • Allow new businesses that have an average of at least $1,700 in payroll in January and February 2020 to access the program. 
  • Find a means to allow businesses using personal bank accounts, including the self-employed, to access the program. 
  • Create an alternative approach, using forgivable loans for example, for small and medium-sized firms that are more labour intensive with payrolls above $1.5 million. 

 Implement an appeal mechanism for businesses rejected by the program. If banks systems do not allow the program criteria to be expanded as noted above, allow the CRA to issue a special code to qualifying businesses that can be used by the banks to release the funds. 

As the pandemic continues, increase the amount made available to business owners by $20,000 for each month restrictions remain in place and expand the forgiveness portion by 25% each month to help with cash flow and limit the debt burden on businesses. In other words: 

  • Make 50% of a $60,000 CEBA loan forgivable in May
  • Make 75% of a $80,000 CEBA loan forgivable in June. 
     
Improving the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA)

We are happy to see the federal government moving forward with the provinces to implement rent relief through CECRA. However, we are concerned that the program is too complicated and too reliant on landlords to administer. 

Simplify CECRA to allow tenants to access the 50% relief without being dependent on landlords by allowing them to apply directly for the program if the landlord has indicated they will not apply. 

Expand eligibility for CECRA to allow businesses who have suffered revenue losses of more than 20 per cent and are not eligible for other federal programs to access it. 

 

Improving the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)

The $960 million in additional funding allocated to the Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and to the national network of Community Futures Development Corporations should be used to fill gaps where business owners find themselves ineligible for CEWS, CEBA and CECRA or where those programs will provide insufficient support. This could be modelled after a Manitoba program which provides $6,000 grants to businesses without other forms of support. Funds should focus on:

  • Micro firms that have been hit hard,
  • The newest firms,
  • Those with a payroll over $1.5 million. 

Accessing these funds should require limited paperwork, and fast flow of money to those that really need it. 

Other recommendations

Delay all planned tax/cost increases until the economy recovers. This includes: Federal carbon tax (April 1), CPP (January 1, 2021), minimum wage (varies by province).

Forgive the payment of taxes, including property taxes, for up to 3 months for those forced to fully or partially close.

Provinces should move immediately to reduce commercial property taxes by a minimum of 25% with the criteria that the relief be passed on to commercial renters.  

Promptly pay suppliers: Ensure suppliers to government are paid quickly (i.e. less than 30 days) and encourage large businesses to do the same.

Create provincial hardship funds with additional emergency money for businesses with significant revenue losses, significant cost increases and/or who are at risk of permanent closure due to COVID-19 (up to $5,000 per month for 3 months) to help small businesses pay rent and offset other fixed costs. Priority should be given to businesses that were forced to close and those not covered by federal programs.Ontario’s NDP opposition suggested a similar measure providing for a 75% rent subsidy of up to $10,000 for small business.

Create temporary protections to ensure that commercial tenants are not evicted during the COVID-19 crisis.

Delay other legislation: Do not introduce new legislation or regulations unrelated to COVID-19.

Ensure any new or existing programs related to COVID-19 are easy to understand and can be accessed quickly.

Work with insurance industry: Many policies appear unclear on whether business interruption coverage applies in a pandemic depending on the nature of the emergency declared by governments.
 

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 from the provincial governments. Visit our COVID-19 Small Business Help Center to learn more.