COVID-19: Round-up of Relief Measures

Jerry Cukier
Client Tool
| 4/6/2020

To our valued clients, colleagues and friends:

We know you are being inundated with COVID-19 emails, which is why Crowe Soberman has decided not to do email blasts with every single new measure as they are announced. However, with that said, we realize a single list of the more relevant relief measures, organized by type, would be helpful. 

In addition to this round-up, don't forget that we also have our dedicated COVID-19 Resource Hub, which highlights all the areas of personal finance and business operations that will likely be impacted by coronavirus. We suggest that you bookmark this page on your internet browser so that you can access our latest updates regarding these important relief measures when you are ready for them.

We are here for you and would be happy to discuss any of these measures at your convenience.

Please note that some of these relief measures are administrative concessions and are not law. As a result, the eligibility requirements and the measures themselves may be subject to change.

COVID-19 Access to Benefits

Relief Measures Targeting Businesses

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

On April 24, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a much-anticipated commercial rent relief initiative for small businesses affected by COVID-19. In partnership with the provinces and territories (which have jurisdiction over the rental market), commercial rent will be lowered by 75 per cent for impacted small businesses.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners, covering 50 per cent of monthly rent for April, May and June. Effectively, commercial property owners will receive 75 per cent of their pre-coronavirus rental revenues for April, May and June – 50 per cent funded by the government in the way of these forgivable loans and 25 per cent received directly from the tenant. The federal Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) will administer and deliver the CECRA. 

Learn more about the requirements in our CECRA for Small Businesses Infographic here

As of May 25, 2020 the registration portal is now open but to manage volume they are staggering the registration dates by region: 

  • Monday - Property owners in Atlantic Canada, BC, Alberta and Quebec, with up to 10 eligible tenants
  • Tuesday - Property owners in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Territories, with up to 10 eligible tenants
  • Wednesday - All other property owners in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Territories
  • Thursday - All other property owners in Atlantic Canada, BC, Alberta and Quebec
  • Friday - All

For more information visit the Canadian Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) site here.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

The Canada Revenue Agency has introduced a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers. Initial details were released April 1, 2020, with further updates to the subsidy and eligibility criteria announced on April 8 and 11, 2020. More information about the wage subsidy can be found here: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Details regarding the application options and process can be found here: How to Apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, A Step by Step Guide.

On May 15, 2020, the government announced that the emergency wage-subsidy program would be extended by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. Over the next few weeks, the government will be consulting with business and labour representatives on potential adjustments to the program including the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold.

Regulatory changes have also been made to extend CEWS eligibility to the following groups:

  • Registered journalism organizations
  • Registered amateur athletic associations
  • Tax-exempt indigenous government-owned organizations
  • Non-public schools and colleges, such as driving schools, language schools and arts schools
  • Partnerships with non-eligible members as long as the non-eligible members are not majority-interest owners

On July 17, 2020, the government announced that the CEWS will be extended until December 19, 2020 and has released draft legislation to support the extension until November 21, 2020. Read more about CEWS 2.0 here.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

The government and financial institutions have launched a program for small businesses whereby they may be entitled to an interest-free loan of up to $40,000. Learn more about the details and the eligibility requirements in our Canada Emergency Business Account summary here.

On May 19, 2020, the government announced that they would be expanding the CEBA eligibility criteria to make it available also to:

  • Sole proprietors who draw income from their businesses.
  • Businesses that rely on contractors.
  • Family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll

Eligible businesses must have a business operating account at a financial institution and a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and must have filed taxes in 2018 or 2019. They also must have eligible non-deferrable expenses ranging from $40,000 to $1.5 million.

Further details are expected soon. 

Income Tax

The deadline for paying corporate tax balances or installments that become payable on or after March 18, 2020, is extended to September 1, 2020 with no accrual of interest or penalties. No action is required to take advantage of this measure. Read our full post for details: Support for Canadians and Businesses.
Note: Only applies to tax under Part I of the Income Tax Act.

On May 25, 2020, it was announced that the CRA will allow all businesses to defer the filing of their T2 Corporation Income Tax Returns otherwise due in June, July or August, to September 1, 2020.

Then on July 27, 2020, the CRA announced a further extension of the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020. Read our full summary of this announcement here

GST/HST Remittance Deferral

To support Canadian businesses in the current extraordinary circumstances, the Minister of National Revenue will extend until June 30, 2020 the time that:

  • Monthly filers must remit amounts collected for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods;
  • Quarterly filers must remit amounts collected for the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period; and
  • Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalment are due in March, April or May 2020, must remit amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year. 

Please note that the announcement does not extend the deadline to file the GST/HST return; however the CRA has also announced that they will waive the late-filing penalties if the GST/HST returns are filed by June 30, 2020. The CRA provides the following guidance:

"The deadline for businesses to file their returns is unchanged. Those who are able to should continue to file their GST/HST returns on time reporting their net tax for the reporting period to help facilitate tax compliance and administration. However, recognizing the difficult circumstances faced by businesses, the CRA won’t impose penalties where a return is filed late provided that it is filed by June 30th."

In addition, we do not know for certain if this relief applies to businesses not owned by Canadians as there is no legislation. Please refer to the resource hub for additional comments regarding provincial sales tax matters.

Read our full summary here.

On July 27, 2020, the CRA announced it will also be waiving interest on existing tax debts from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns. Read more here.

Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers
The Canada Revenue Agency has introduced a 10% wage subsidy to eligible employers.  Legislation to enact this measure has passed and it is now law.  More information about the wage subsidy can be found here: Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers.
Ontario Employer Health Tax
Increasing the Employer Health Tax exemption for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million and a five month relief period for Ontario businesses who are unable to file or remit their provincial taxes on time due to the special circumstances caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) in Ontario.  The government proposes to retroactively raise the EHT exemption from $490,000 to $1 million for 2020. The exemption would return to its current level of $490,000 on January 1, 2021. Additional information can be found here: EHT Exemption
Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB)
Financial relief by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months. Additional information can be found here: WSIB Financial Relief
Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

In conjunction with financial institutions, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) or the Export Development Canada (EDC), will offer credit to those businesses that need it. More information can be found here: BCAP.

On May 11, 2020, The federal government announced they will expand the BCAP to include mid-sized companies with larger financing needs with loans of up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million.

The program is in the final stages of being established and further information about the application process is expected soon.

Work Sharing

Businesses can enter into a Work Sharing Program with employees that would see employees temporarily share responsibilities under reduced hours of employment. In these circumstances, employees may still be eligible for EI benefits under this program. More information can be found here: Work Sharing.

Loan Guarantee and Co-Lending Programs for SME
Starting March 27, 2020, small and medium enterprises, both domestic and in the export sector, can receive operating credit and term loans up to $6.25 million or co lending- incremental term loans up to $6.25 million. Contact your financial institution directly for more information and to apply. Read our post COVID-19: Banking, Lending and Credit for more information on the role of financial institutions in these relief measures.
Business Resilience Hotline
Starting May 25, 2020, a national, bilingual Business Resilience Service hotline operated by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce will be available to small business owners with pressing financial needs. The hotline is available seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET) toll-free at 1-866-989-1080. 125 members of Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA Canada) will be available to provide customized financial guidance to the smallest business owners in the most urgent need to help them make decisions for their business as they navigate this crisis.
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) was announced on May 11, 2020 with the goal of supporting employers with annual revenues of more than $300 million whose credit needs aren't being met through conventional financing, helping them protect jobs and weather the economic downturn caused by COVID-19.

The program is open to large commercial businesses that have a "significant footprint" in all sectors except those in the financial sector, as well as certain not-for-profit businesses like airports.

To qualify for LEEFF, an organization must:

  • Be looking for financing of $60 million or more
  • Have significant operations or workforce in Canada
  • Not be involved in ongoing insolvency proceedings
  • Impose limits on dividends and executive pay
  • Commit to Canada’s climate change goals
  • Not have a history of tax evasion

It is not intended to be a low-cost loan program for companies that don't need it or to bail out companies that were already in financial trouble before the pandemic.

The application process for LEEFF opens May 20, 2020. For more information visit the Canada Development Investment Corporation websitewww.cdev.gc.ca

Customs, Duty and Sales Tax
Businesses that import goods and pay customs duties and GST will be allowed deferred payments for statements of accounts for March, April, and May 2020, to June 30, 2020 with no application action required.
workers access to benefits

Relief Measures Targeting Individuals

Income Tax
The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all taxpayers to defer, until September 1, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
Payroll source deductions and non-Part I taxes are excluded from this relief. Read our full update here

On May 25, 2020, it was announced that the deadlines for filing T3 Trust Income Tax Returns that would otherwise be due in June, July or August, has been extended to September 1, 2020.

Then on July 27, 2020, the CRA announced a further extension of the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including instalment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020. Read our full summary of this announcement here.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The government has announced a series of measures such as the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which can provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 per month for up to the next four months for Canadians impacted by COVID-19. The support available will depend on the circumstances of each individual. The details of the benefits can be found here: Canada’s New Emergency Response Benefit

Click here to visit the Department of Finance CERB FAQ page

Expanded Access to EI
Individuals who are sick and quarantined or may have lost their job as a result of COVID-19 may be eligible for sickness benefits or regular benefits under the EI program if they are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.  More information can be found here: Employment and Social Development Canada.
Support for Seniors

On May 12, 2020, the federal government announced a one-time, tax free payment to help seniors struggling because of COVID-19. Canadians who currently receive Old Age Security (OAS) will be given $300 and those who are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will receive an additional $200. 

GST/HST Credit (GSTC)

You are generally eligible for the GST/HST credit if you are considered a Canadian resident for income tax purposes the month before and at the beginning of the month in which the Canada Revenue Agency makes a payment. You also need to meet one of the following criteria:

  • You are at least 19 years old;
  • You have (or had) a spouse or common-law partner; or
  • You are (or were) a parent and live (or lived) with your child.

Parents in a shared custody situation may be eligible for half of the GST/HST credit for that child. This also applies to any related provincial and territorial credit.

If, however, a child welfare agency is legally, physically, or financially responsible for a child, you are not generally eligible for the GST/HST credit for that child.

Starting May 2020, GSTC will be doubled for the 2019- 2020 benefits year, providing an additional benefit of up to $400 for singles and up to $600 for couples. No application is required but the individual must file a tax return for the year to receive it.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

On April 22, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, announced that post-secondary students will be eligible for a new Canada Emergency Student Benefit (“CESB”) as part of a $9 billion package of new measures geared at helping students.

Post-secondary students will be eligible to receive $1,250 per month from May to August 2020.  If the student is taking care of someone else or has a disability him/herself, the monthly amount will be increased to $2,000.  In addition, students who are earning less than $1,000 per month can also apply for the CESB.

College and university students currently attending school, planning to attend post-secondary school in September, or who graduated in December of 2019 are eligible for the CESB. Canadian students studying abroad and who meet one of the above criteria are also eligible.

The application process is opening May 15, 2020 via the CRA MyAccount.

Ontario Support for Families
Ontario is providing support to families for some of the extra costs associated with school and daycare closure during the COVID‑19 outbreak by providing a one-time $200 payment per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 per child with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools. To apply visit the Ontario Support for Families application page here.
Canada Child Benefit (CCB)
Starting May 2020, primary caregivers of children under 18 years old will receive an increase in CCB of $300 per child for the 2019-2020 benefits year. No application is required if you are already receiving CCB, but the individual must file a tax return for the year to receive it.
To apply for CCB follow these steps:
Step 1: Register the birth here.
Step 2: Create CRA MyAccount here.
Step 3: Complete Form RC66 via mail. 
Canada Student Loans
From March 30, 2020 until September 30, 2020, for borrowers on Canada Student Loans who are currently required to repay amounts, there will be a pause in the repayment of those student loans, with no accrual of interest. No action is required and the automatic pause also applies to pre-authorized debits.

How can Crowe Soberman support you?

In these uncertain times, it is essential to remain agile and proactive as the COVID-19 situation unfolds. Having timely access to financial experts, insights and news as quickly as possible is critical—and that’s where we can help.

We have established a dedicated COVID-19 Resource Hub, highlighting areas of business operations that will likely be impacted by coronavirus. Whether you need to discuss your current financial situation and learn what options are available to you, or you want to be guided through the appropriate cash flow management strategies for your business, our team of experts are ready to help you at every step of the way. Please do not hesitate to reach out to your Crowe Soberman professionals for support during these challenging times.

We are in this together.

This article has been prepared for the general information of our clients. Please note that this publication should not be considered a substitute for personalized advice related to your situation.

Contact Us

Jerry Cukier
Jerry Cukier
Managing Partner, Audit & Advisory
Jerry Cukier Professional Corporation
Susan Hodkinson
Susan Hodkinson
Chief Operating Officer & Partner, HR Consulting Practice