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Your Province Declared an Emergency. What Does that Mean For Your Business?

Due to COVID-19, unless businesses are considered essential, your clients’ business has likely taken a dip and they might be scrambling to figure out how to keep things running smoothly. As an agency, you’ve likely wondered what is the best way you can help support them.

Depending on the type of businesses your clients run, a provincial emergency means something different for them, their business, and their employees. The Government of Canada has provided resources available to all businesses.

If businesses are worried about making payroll, but are hoping to avoid layoffs, the following are great options from the Canadian government:

  • Extending Work Sharing program from 38 to 76 weeks. The Work Sharing program allows employees to voluntarily reduce their hours of work due to circumstances outside of their employer’s control. The rest is subsidized by EI.
  • Wage subsidies. Up to 75% of wages will be subsidized for qualified businesses

Need access to credit? Canada has developed a Business Credit Availability Program with $65 billion dollars available via the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. They will provide credit for small and large businesses, starting April 17, through:

  • Canada Emergency Business Account. Small businesses and non-profit organizations are eligible for up to $40,000 to help cover operating expenses. They will need to provide proof that their payroll was between $50,000 and $1 million in 2019. 
  • Loan Guarantees and Co-Lending for Small and Medium Enterprises. Up to $6.25 million dollars is available. 

Aside from what’s available nationally, here’s a breakdown of what COVID-19 means for businesses on a province-by-province basis:

British Columbia

Tax Relief

The deadline for filing and paying taxes, including provincial sales tax, carbon tax, motor fuel tax, and tobacco tax have been extended until September 30.

The provincial property tax for commercial and industrial properties will be cut in half this year.

Deferred Payment Relief

BC Hydro is allowing customers to defer their bills without penalty or set up a payment plan.

Q1 payments for Worksafe BC have been postponed until June 30.

Delayed Budget Changes

Eliminating the PST exemption for carbonated beverages that contain sugar, natural sweeteners, or artificial sweeteners is postponed until further notice.

The increase of the carbon tax is delayed until September, freeing up more cash for businesses.

Alberta

Tax Relief

Alberta has deferred education property taxes for 6 months, which means businesses hold onto cash to keep operations running smoothly and their workers employed. The government is encouraging commercial landlords to reduce or defer rent payments to alleviate businesses and allow them to continue operations.

Corporate income tax balances and installment payments will be deferred until August 31, 2020.

Other Payment Relief

Workers Compensation Board premium payments have also been deferred for one year. If you’ve already paid, you’re eligible for a rebate or credit. When dues are collected in 2021, small and medium businesses will be covered for 50% of the cost, with the Alberta government paying the rest.

Utilities will also be deferred for small commercial customers for the next 90 days to ensure that they can continue business without being cut off from electricity or natural gas.

Hotels and other lodging providers can delay paying the tourism levy until August 31, 2020. 

Saskatchewan

Tax Relief

PST remittance due to cashflow concerns will have three-month relief from penalty and interest charges. Businesses may submit a request for relief from penalty and interest charges on the provincial tax return affected.

Audits have been suspended to give employers time to focus on the health and safety of their customers and staff, reduce impacts to their business operations, and minimize the spread of the virus through reduced audit travel.

Other Payment Relief

All Crown utilities will implement bill-deferral programs allowing a zero-interest bill deferral for up to six months for Saskatchewan customers whose ability to make bill payments may be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions.

From April 1 until June 30, 2020, the Workers’ Compensation Board (WCB) will waive penalties and interest charges for late premium payments.

Manitoba

Tax Relief

Manitoba has extended the April and May tax filing deadlines until June 22, 2020 for small and medium businesses with monthly RST remittances of no more than $10,000. Additionally, businesses that file on a quarterly basis that have a due date of April 20, 2020 have had the due date extended to June 22, 2020.

COVID-19 Manufacturing Relief

Manitoba businesses that are prepared to rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop products made in Manitoba to help in the fight against COVID-19 are asked to complete the Manitoba Government’s submission form.

Agribusiness Relief

Farm Credit Canada has new supports in place, including loan deferrals and increased lending capacity for producers, agribusinesses and food processors. 

Other Financial Relief

WCB Manitoba is deferring premium payment until May 31, with late payment penalties waived until further notice.

Ontario

The Ontario government has allotted $1.9 billion in relief for employers facing struggles because of COVID-19.

Deferred Payment Relief

Ontario announced provincial tax deferrals on the Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax, Fuel Tax, Beer Tax, and Mining Tax, as well as other provincial taxes, until August 31 with no interest or penalty.

Worker’s Compensation (WSIB) premium payments will be deferred until August 31, 2020 with no interest or penalty. All interest on outstanding payments will also be stopped.

Utility Relief

For small businesses and farms, Ontario is suspending time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour for a 45-day period. There is no need to apply for this, as this discount will be reflected on the next bill or given as a credit.

Quebec

Tax Relief

Businesses now have until September 1 to pay any tax balance owing to Revenue Québec or to remit instalments. They will also be suspending tax audits and collection, and will show greater flexibility for payment agreements for tax debts. The deadline for GST/QST and customs duty payments has been extended until June 30.

Utility Relief

All existing unpaid Hydro-Quebec bills will no longer accrue administration charges, and all unpaid bills going forward will not lose service.

Agribusiness Relief

A six-month halt on loan repayments can be requested. Interim AgriStability payments can also be requested in order to receive them more quickly.

Other Financial Relief

To help businesses whose cash flow is affected by the impact of COVID-19, Quebec has implemented the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses, providing a minimum of $50,000 in emergency financing in the form of a loan or a loan guarantee. This program is available for clients of Investissement Québec, but can also be applied for via your financial institution.

Newfoundland and Labrador

Repayment Relief

Loan payments on business loans administered by the Innovation and Business Investment Corporation are deferred by three months.

Deferred Payment Relief

WorkplaceNL has provided employers with a workers' compensation premium payment deferral until June 30, 2020.

Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia’s government has developed a tool for businesses to determine whether they can remain open or not: COVID-19 Employer Assessment Tool

Deferred Payment Relief

Government will defer payments until June 30 for all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.

Government will defer payments until June 30 for small business renewal fees.

Workers compensation premiums are being deferred until July 2020.

The government of Nova Scotia is encouraging landlords to defer rent payments for their commercial tenants for three months, spreading the deferred rent amount over the rest of the lease term.

Other Financial Relief

The Small Business Loan Guarantee Program has been changed to include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30, making it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000, with the first $100,000 guaranteed by the government.

Small businesses doing business with the government will be paid within five days instead of the standard 30 days.

Prince Edward Island

Deferred Payment Relief

Businesses do not have to pay WCB PEI premiums until June 30, with no interest or penalty building up. 

All scheduled loan payments for clients of Finance PEI, Island Investment Development Inc., and the PEI Century Fund will be for the next three months.

Prince Edward Island landlords who defer rent payments from their commercial tenants for three months (May-July) could be eligible for financial assistance (up to a maximum of $50,000 per landlord and $15,000 per tenant) if the deferred rent can’t be recovered. Landlords must apply before April 15.

Other Financial Relief

The PEI Government has launched Emergency Working Capital Financing for businesses in good standing to receive a loan of up to $100,000.

The government of PEI is providing $4.5 million to Community Business Development Corporations across the province to redistribute to small businesses.

The Emergency Relief - Worker Assistance Program is a temporary program providing financial support to private sector or non-profit employers to assist their employees who have been impacted by reduced hours at work as a result of COVID-19. Employers are eligible for up to $250/week per employee.

If you have had to lay off employees between March 13-31, the government has partnered with Sobeys to provide $100 gift cards to laid off workers to provide immediate relief. Employers must apply for and distribute the gift cards themselves.

New Brunswick

Deferred Payment Relief

As an immediate measure, and on a case-by-case basis, the Government of New Brunswick will defer loan and interest repayments for up to six months on existing provincial loans.

WorkSafeNB has deferred premium payments for three months.

NB Power will defer electricity bill payments for residential and small business customers for up to 90 days.

Other Financial Relief

Late penalties on property taxes will be assessed on a case-by-case basis and may be waived.

The Government of New Brunswick will provide operating loans up to $200,000 to support small businesses. Payments of interest and principal will not be required during the first 12 months.

Commercial landlords cannot give any notice of distress for any non-payment of rent after March 19 until May 31.

Nunavut

Financial Relief

Small businesses in Nunavut can now apply for a one-time $5,000 grant from the Nunavut government. Those eligible for grants include businesses with less than 10 employees and those with less than $500,000 in gross sales yearly.

The Nunavut government is not pursuing any internal collection activity at this time. All accounts that have been transferred to a collection agency and CRA have been placed on hold.

Yukon

Deferred Payment Relief

Yukon Worker's Compensation Health and Safety Board has deferred premium payments with no interest or penalty. Additionally, they are allowing for payroll estimate revisions due to the impact of COVID-19.

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories is offering businesses low-interest loans of up to $25,000 through the Business Development and Investment Corporation.  Priority will be given to businesses with fewer than 20 employees but the GNWT will consider applications from businesses with up to 50 employees.

Deferred Payment Relief

From now until September 24, businesses who have borrowed from the Business Development and Invest Corporation (BDIC) can apply to reduce or defer up to three months of loan payments without penalty or additional interest charges. Businesses are automatically approved and not required to demonstrate financial hardship or impacts resulting from COVID-19.

About the Author

Jenni Lawrence is a Content Marketing Specialist at Vendasta. She has written about everything from fashion to agriculture to technology. In her spare time, you can probably find her reading a book or throwing a dinner party, because life is about balance.

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