Government Programs

Governments around the world are grappling with how to keep the economy going when large portions of it have seemingly ground to an immediate halt as a result of COVID-19. The Canadian government has released a number of programs to help Canadians get through this financial crisis.

Click here for the federal government’s complete economic response plan to COVID-19.

Here are brief descriptions and links for several assistance programs relevant to you and your small business:

Temporary Wage Subsidy

This program provides up to three months of temporary financial assistance to employers who are paying wages to employees. Essentially the employers that take advantage of this program will be reducing the amount of tax they are remitting to the CRA during this period. The maximum subsidy is $25,000 per employer and $1,375 per employee. More information on this program is available in the link below.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The federal government has recently announced a 75% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses for up to three months and retroactive to March 15, 2020. This subsidy is intended for businesses of any size, including charities and not-for-profit organizations. The government will cover up to 75% of employee’s wages for the first $58,700 worth of salary. Employers will need to demonstrate they have suffered a 15% decline in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Employers can demonstrate this decline either by comparing monthly revenue for March, April and May 2020 to the same month in 2019, or by comparing March 2020 revenue to the average of January and February 2020 revenue. Additional details are available in the below link.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance

The Prime Minister has recently announced a program that will lower rent by 75% for small businesses impacted by COVID-19. While more information is expected to be available shortly on this program, so far we know the following: 

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% 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% 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 would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent. 
  • Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations. 

For additional information please see the link below:

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

This program was announced by the Canadian government on March 25th and is intended to support workers and help businesses keep their employees.

This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. It covers Canadians who have lost their jobs, are sick, quarantined, or are taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. It applies to wage earners as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for employment insurance (EI).

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB to ensure they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as possible.

Extension of Tax Deadlines

For those filing taxes as an individual, the filing deadline has been extended from April 30th to June 1st. Any taxes, which would normally be payable as of April 30th, have been extended to August 31st, interest free. While the filing deadline for corporations is unchanged, the deadline for payment of taxes has also been extended to August 31, 2020.

Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments

To add cash-flow flexibility for businesses, including self-employed individuals, the Government of Canada will allow businesses to defer payments of Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), as well as customs duties, until June 30, 2020.

Changes to the Canada Summer Jobs Program

The government announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program, which supports small businesses thinking about hiring workers between the age of 15 and 30. Employers will now receive a subsidy of up to 100 percent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee. The program will now extend through February 2021 so that businesses who have had to delay their projects or scale back their operations will still be able to hire a student part-time. Please see the below link for further details.

Chambers Plan

Chambers Plan

Chambers of Commerce Group Insurance Plan is Canada’s #1 employee benefits plan for small business. Chambers Plan has been protecting Canadian firms for over 40 years. As a not-for-profit, any surpluses are reinvested to the Plan to support industry-leading stability. That's why more than 30,000 small to midsize businesses trust Chambers Plan to protect their employees.