(Updated April 1 at 6pm)

Last week, the federal government announced their aid package to assist Canadians during the COVID-19 crisis.  Either voluntarily or via government mandate, the banking sector is also providing assistance with loan payments.  Here’s what we know so far:

 

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): The CERB will provide $2,000 a month for 4 months to working Canadians financially impacted by COVID-19, but aren’t eligible to receive EI Benefits.

The application portal will launch on April 6. Canada.ca has a helpful section which provides detailed information and a Q&A section.

Important note:  Please register for your CRA My Account and direct deposit in advance of the application launch.

Here are the application details, taken directly from Canada.ca:

The CERB can be paid via direct deposit (3-5 days funding) or cheque (10 days).  The application window will be staggered according to birth month:  April 6 (January to March), April 7 (April to June), April 8 (July to September), April 9 (October to December).

To be eligible to receive the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) from Service Canada, the following must apply:

  • You must reside in Canada
  • You are 15 years of age or older at the time of application
  • You have stopped or will stop working for reasons related to covid-19, or because you are unable to work due to illness, or because you lost your employment for other reasons beyond your control; and
    • If you are submitting for your first benefit period, that you have stopped or will stop working for at least 14 consecutive days within the 4 week benefit period; or
    • If you are filing for a subsequent benefit period, you did not receive any employment or self employment income for the period for which you previously claimed the benefit and do not expect to receive any employment or self employment income in the 4 week benefit period
  • You have not quit your job voluntarily
  • You are not receiving nor have you applied for the CERB from the Canada Revenue Agency nor are you receiving Employment Insurance benefits for the same benefit period
  • You have earned a minimum of $5,000 in income within the last 12 months or in the 2019 calendar year from one or more of the following sources:
    • Employment income
    • Self-employment income

(Note: The CERB will amalgamate the two previously announced benefits: Emergency Support and Emergency Care Benefit)

 

Canada Emergency Business Account (announced March 27, updated April 1): The government will also guarantee loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses, which will be interest-free for the first year.

CIBC has already announced they will have a simple, digital application ready the week of April 6th.  The new digital application process will allow small business owners who bank with CIBC to apply for the CEBA in just minutes once the loans are available.

The federal government has promised $25-billion to guarantee the loans, removing the risk for banks. One quarter of each loan, up to $10,000, will be forgiven if businesses repay their balance before Dec. 31, 2022. If the loans aren’t repaid by that date, they can be converted into three-year term loans charging 5-per-cent interest, according to a CIBC statement.

The loans will be available to small- and medium-sized businesses as well as non-profits that have a registered operating company in Canada, had annual payrolls between $50,000 and $1-million in 2019.

The CEBA only applies to incorporated businesses, not sole proprietorships or partnerships.

 

Wage Subsidy Program: To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent layoffs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 75% of remuneration paid during that period.  As of April 1st, the wage subsidy is expected to start 6 weeks from now.

Link to Canada.ca page about this program

This program is separate and apart from the 10% wage subsidy program. The 10% program will continue to be in place (announced April 1).  The 10% is claimed via a reduced remittance of withholding income tax that you send to the CRA.

The key rules (as of April 1) for the 75% wage subsidy program are as follows:

  • The subsidy is for wages paid to employees for the period from March 18 to June 20
  • Your business must already have an existing business number and payroll account with the CRA on March 18, 2020.
  • The new program will require an application to be filed with CRA – the ability to apply will start in three weeks. Employers will need to update each month to show that the 30% decline existed for each particular month.
  • Payments will begin to be made six weeks from the application date. Unlike the 10% wage subsidy program this program will not work through the employer remittance account but instead will be a separate transfer from CRA. So, for those with tight cashflow this has to be carefully managed.
  • The company must have seen a revenue drop of at least 30% of its gross revenue since this time last year due to COVID-19.  CRA will compare revenue for March, April and May of 2020 against the prior year
  • The subsidy is for salaries up to $58,700, or $847 a week
  • Companies will be required to “show what the pre-crisis income was of an employee and show that they’re paying that employee an amount up to $847 and then they will get that money returned to them from the Canada Revenue Agency.”
  • The program will not require that employees be paid their full 100% salary.
  • Companies will have to reapply every month and Morneau said there will be “severe” consequences for anyone who tries to take advantage of the system.

 

Tax Balances & Instalments:  You can forego all payment of taxes or instalments for tax owing after March 18, 2020 until August 31, 2020 without incurring any interest penalties.  Although, if you expect to have a balance owing, you must still file your return by June 1st (June 15th if self-employed) to avoid any late-filing penalties.

 

Mortgage Deferral:  Talk to your lender about a six-month mortgage deferral.  This is not an interest-free deferral, simply a lengthening of the amortization and with the interest added on the back of the mortgage.

 

Renters: Talk to your landlord.  Be ready to establish financial hardship.  Most landlords want to work with you and find a solution.  On March 25th, the BC Government made several announcements to protect renters from being evicted because of the COVID-19 emergency. Those measures include a ban on most evictions, freezing rental increases, and providing landlords with a $500 supplement to help pay rent of those struggling now.

 

B.C. Emergency Benefit: The BC government will mail out a $1,000 cheque to all BC residents eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) or for the federal government’s Emergency Care or Emergency Support benefits.  Finance Minister Carole James said Monday that British Columbians should be able to apply for the one-time, tax-free benefit by May.

 

B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit: Lower-income BC residents in receipt of this credit will see some boost to their payment.  The province says the maximum credit will double this year, with an eligible family of four getting up to $564 and eligible individual getting up to $218 in an enhanced payment.

 

GST Payments:  For the next GST payment in May, government will provide a GST credit averaging $400 for single adults, and $600 couples.

 

Canada Child Benefit (CCB):  $300 top-up to the CCB to assist parents.

 

BC Hydro: BC Hydro has implemented a COVID-19 customer service assistance program to help clients defer their utility bill payments.  From their website: The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program provides residential and commercial customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Customers are encouraged to call our customer service team at 1-800-BCHYDRO (1-800-224-9376) to discuss bill payment options.

Residential customers facing temporary financial hardship and possible disconnection of their service due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member may also be eligible for our Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay their bills.

 

ICBC: Many of you currently insure your vehicle(s) for commuting or business use.  If you are working from home and are no longer commuting, consider switching your coverage to a lower-cost rate class (pleasure use).  Please confirm eligibility details with your Autoplan broker.  Remember to switch back when you resume your commute.

 

Business Development Bank (BDC):  The government aid package includes $10 Billion to establish a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP). The program will be deployed by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). The goal is to help small- and medium-sized organizations directly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis by providing them with short-term, low-interest rate loans to bridge them through this difficult period.  We inquired with the BDC and have the following details to provide:

-Online Application. Funding in 10 business days.  $150 application fee.
-Loans up to $100,000
-Loan rate of prime (3%) plus an adjustment factor of 1-12% depending on business / credit risk

It is recommended that you first talk to your regular financial institution.  If they are not able to help, they will refer you to the BDC.  Be prepared to provide the following:

-An outline of how the COVID-19 crisis has created a business challenge
-Confirmation that the funds will be used to support ongoing operations and not pay existing debt
-An overview of the financial needs of your business for the next six months and how they will be covered
-Financial statements and notices of assessment for the three most recent years
-Revenue and cash flow projections, and projected expenses for the next 6 months