COVID-19: Round-up of Relief Measures

Jerry Cukier
Client Tool
| 10/26/2020
The team at Crowe Soberman has curated this list of the more relevant relief measures, organized by type, as a resource for you to bookmark on your internet browser and access the latest updates when you are ready for them. We are here for you and would be happy to discuss any of these measures at your convenience.

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.

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.

business measures

Relief Measures Targeting Businesses

CanExport Program for SME

On Tuesday November 3, 2020, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to the CanExport small and medium-sized business (“SME”) program. Announced during the 2018 Fall Economic updatethe CanExport program is a five-year, $50-million program that provides direct financial assistance to SMEs looking to build new export opportunities, especially in high-growth emerging markets. This program is offered by Canada’s Trade Commissioner Service, Global Affairs Canada, in partnership with the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Program.

Changes to the adapted CanExport program now support business owners navigating COVID-19 trade barriers by helping them pay for international market certifications and requirements. The program is also pivoting to assist SMEs with developing and expanding their e-commerce presence by covering partial costs for online sales platforms, digital strategy advice, virtual tradeshows, advertising, and search engine optimization. Additional resources will also be made available specifically for women and Indigenous entrepreneurs.

Who can apply for the CanExport SMEs program?

Eligible Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises must:

  • be for-profit;
  • be an incorporated legal entity or a limited liability partnership (LLP);
  • have a Canada Revenue Agency business number (unless registered on First Nations lands);
  • employ 500 or fewer full-time equivalent employees; and
  • have $100,000 to $100 million in declared revenue in Canada during its past fiscal year (or 12 months for quarterly filers).

Learn more about the CanExport SMEs program application here.

Canada United Small Business Relief Fund (CUSBRF)

The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund (CUSBRF), which is managed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, will provide grants of up to $5,000 to offset the cost of expenses required to reopen safely or adopt digital technologies to move more of their business online. 

The details are the following:

  • One application per ownership group
  • For-Profit and Not-for-Profit organizations are eligible to apply
  • Incorporated or sole proprietorship/partnership businesses are eligible to apply so long as they were operating as of March 1, 2020
  • Eligible businesses cannot have more than 75 employees
  • Eligible businesses must have at least $150,000 of sales but not more than $3,000,000
  • Eligible businesses must have at least $1,000,000 of commercial general liability insurance
  • Eligible businesses must continue to be in business on September 1, 2020
  • Applicants must attach receipts and invoices, with proof of payment, to support the expenses/costs being claimed
  • Applicants must submit the business’ GST/HST application or a recent GST/HST tax return and proof of business registration, business license, or Articles of Incorporation

There are three categories of purchases that are eligible for reimbursement under the program:

  • Purchase of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
  • Renovation of space to adhere to re-opening guidelines
  • Enhancement of website/ developing e-commerce capability

Eligible expenses directly related to the above categories are permitted provided that purchases were made no earlier than March 15, 2020. All eligible expenses must be incremental and a direct result of adjusting operations for COVID-19 safety guidelines. Normal or usual ongoing business costs are not eligible.

More details can be found through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS 2.0)

The government previously announced that the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWSwould be extended through to June 2021. They just recently announced how the program would change for periods up to December 19, 2020 (nothing is known for subsequent periods yet).

The base subsidy rate for September 27 to October 24, 2020 will continue to apply from October 25 to December 19, 2020. As such, the maximum base subsidy rate will be set at 40 per cent for this period, and the maximum top-up subsidy rate will remain at 25 per cent.
 
The changes are in connection with the top-up subsidy rate. Moving forward, the revenue-decline test for the base subsidy and the top-up subsidy will be harmonized for periods starting September 27. Instead of using the current three-month revenue-decline test for the top-up subsidy, both the base and top-up subsidy rate will be determined by the change in an eligible employer's monthly revenues, year-over-year (i.e. October 2020 vs. October 2019 or if the employer is using the alternative revenue-decline test then October 2020 vs. average monthly Jan/Feb 2020). An employer with a 70 per cent or greater revenue loss in a period would be eligible for the maximum 65 per cent wage subsidy. Remember that an employer can choose to use the current month’s revenues or the prior month’s revenues for determining the revenue decline.

To ensure that the change in the revenue-decline test does not lead to a less generous wage subsidy, the wage subsidy program would include a “safe harbour” rule applicable for periods between September 27 to December 19, 2020. This rule would entitle an eligible employer to a top-up subsidy rate that is no less than it would have received under the three-month revenue-decline test.
 
There is currently no legislation for these changes, but it is expected soon. Read more about CEWS 2.0 here.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
Details for the first 12 weeks of Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), the new program to support Canadian businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic replacing the now-expired Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, were recently released. CERS will provide support directly to tenants and certain property owners with the first phase of relief running from September 27 to December 19, 2020.
 
The qualifications and rates largely follow those used for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and, unlike CECRA, CERS provides relief directly to renters and property owners without requiring the participation of landlords.
 
The base subsidy rate for CERS is based on a revenue decline identical to CEWS (i.e. the combined base subsidy rate and top-up rate) and includes all the same elections and rules. For more details, read our summary in CERS: New Direct Emergency Rent Subsidy for Businesses
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) has expanded, allowing businesses to access an additional $20,000 interest-free loan, for a total CEBA loan of $60,000. $10,000 of the additional $20,000 loan is forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022.  The total forgiven loan amount is therefore $20,000 on the $60,000 CEBA. An attestation of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will be required to access the additional financing.

The application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020.

Further details, including the launch date and application process will be announced in the coming days.

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.

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.
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

individual measures

Relief Measures Targeting Individuals

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

Effective September 26, 2020, the Canadian Recovery Benefit (“CRB”) replaced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) as a means to support Canadians who are self-employed, have lost their jobs or had their income reduced by at least 50 per cent due to COVID-19 and who do not otherwise qualify for Employment Insurance (EI).

To be eligible, applicants for the CRB must meet several conditions, including having earned a minimum of $5,000 in 2019, in 2020, or in the 12 months preceding their first application for this benefit — either from employment, self employment. EI, maternity or parental benefits or from Quebec Parental Insurance Plan (QPIP) benefits - and be actively looking for work. Refer to the link below for more details. 

The CRB is $1,000 per week before taxes for a two-week period. The Canada Revenue Agency withholds 10 per cent tax at source, translating to an after-tax payment of $900 per two-week period. If eligible, the CRB is available for up to 26 weeks or 13 eligibility periods between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Is the CRB Taxable?

The CRB is considered taxable income. The 10 per cent tax withheld at source may not be the only tax paid. This amount is dependent on how much income from all sources was earned in the calendar year.

You may collect CRB payments while earning employment of self-employment income; however, you will have to reimburse $0.50 of the CRB for every dollar of net income you earn above $38,000 (excluding CRB benefits) in the calendar year. This reimbursement is payable when your tax return for the particular year is due.

More information can be found here: Canadian Recovery Benefit (CRB)

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

The Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (“CRCB”) provides income support for people who do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) and who are unable to work because they must care for their child who is under the age of 12 years, or a family member who needs supervised care.

To qualify for the CRCB, individuals must meet the following criteria:

  • You live in Canada, are at least 15 years old, and have a Social Insurance Number (SIN);
  • You are employed or self-employed on the day before you would get a CRCB payment;
  • You are unable to work at least 50% of your scheduled work week because you are caring for a family member.
  • You earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months before you apply; and
  • You are not eligible for EI (usually those who are self-employed, independent contractors, or “gig workers”).
  • You did not apply for or receive benefits for the same period under the CRB, CRSB, short-term disability, workers’ compensation, EI or QPIP.
  • You are the only person in the household who is applying for the CRCB.

If you are eligible for the CRCB, your household can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each one-week period.

If your situation continues past one week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 26 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

You apply for the CRCB for two weeks at a time through your online CRA MyAccount. You must wait until after you have missed work to apply, and you must apply within 60 days of missing work.

More information can be found here: Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB).

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (“CRSB”) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work at least 50 per cent of their work week because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19.

To be eligible for the CRSB, applicants must:

  • Live in Canada, be at least 15 years old, and have a Social Insurance Number (SIN);
  • Are employed or self-employed on the day before you would get a CRSB payment;
  • Have earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months before you apply;
  • Not be receiving sick leave or disability benefits during the weeks that you apply for; and
  • Not receiving benefits under EI, short-term disability, workers’ compensation,  CRB or CRCB.

If you are eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a one-week period.

If your situation continues past one week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

More information can be found here: Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB).

Expanded Access to Employment Insurance (EI)

Effective September 27, 2020, the Federal Government introduced a new simplified Employment Insurance (“EI”) program to better support Canadians looking for work.

If you were receiving the CERB through Service Canada on September 27, 2020, then you should be automatically switched to EI. If you were receiving the CERB through the Canada Revenue Agency, then you will need to apply for EI. After October 3, 2020, you will also need to apply for EI if you cannot work because of COVID-19.

Individuals may be eligible for EI if they:

  • were employed for at least 120 insurable hours in the past 52 weeks;
  • received the CERB (the 52-week period to accumulate insured hours will be extended);
  • stopped working through no fault of their own;
  • did not quit their job voluntarily;
  • are ready, willing, and capable of working each day (EI regular benefits); or
  • are temporarily unable to work while they care for someone else or themselves (EI maternity, parental, sickness, compassionate care, and family caregiver benefits).

If you are eligible for EI benefits, you will receive a minimum taxable benefit at a rate of $500 per week, or $300 per week for extended parental benefits.

More information can be found here: Increased Access to Employment Insurance (EI)

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. 
expired measures

Expired or Inactive 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.
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 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

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.

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 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.
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.
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.

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.

Income Tax Business

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

Income Tax Individuals
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.

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 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.
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
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. 

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.
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.

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