CORONAVIRUS UPDATE

The Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) continues to dramatically affect our community and our daily lives.

 

Our offices have been inundated with questions and concerns related to the evolving situation and how it has impacted those in our community.

 

Given the large volume of inquiries and the wide range of issues being raised, we are providing a comprehensive summary of information from the Government of Canada and Ministerial statements. Our goal is to address as many of your questions as possible in one place.

About coronavirus disease (COVID-19)

 

What it is

COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus.

Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold.
 

Symptoms

Symptoms may be very mild or more serious.

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus.

  • Fever

  • Cough 

  • Difficulty breathing
     

Spread

Coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person through:

  • respiratory droplets when you cough or sneeze

  • close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands

  • touching something with the virus on it, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands
     

These viruses are not known to spread through ventilation systems or through water.

For more information, please visit Canada.ca/coronavirus

 

Prevention

 

The best way to prevent the spread of infections is to:

  • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

  • avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands

  • avoid close contact with people who are sick

  • when coughing or sneezing:

    • cover your mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce the spread of germs

    • immediately dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards

  • clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys, electronic devices and doorknobs

  • stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others

For more information, please visit Canada.ca/coronavirus

 
 

Social Distancing

 

Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak. With patience and cooperation, we can all do our part.

This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:

  • avoiding non-essential gatherings

  • avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes

  • avoiding crowded places such as concerts, arenas, conferences and festivals

  • limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health

  • keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others

Be Prepared

 

Plan ahead

Take time to consider what you will do if you or a family member becomes sick and needs care. Think about:

  • What food and household supplies you need for you and your family

  • What medicines you need, including renewing and refilling prescriptions ahead of time

Discuss your plans with your family, friends and neighbours, and set up a system to check in on each other by phone, email or text during times of need.

Get prepared

Have supplies on hand so you do not need to leave your home if you become ill. Add a few extra items to your grocery cart every time you shop. This places less of a burden on suppliers, and can help ease financial burden on you as well.

Stock up on:

  • dried pasta and rice

  • pasta sauces

  • canned soups, vegetables and beans

  • pet food and supplies

  • feminine hygiene products

  • thermometer

  • diapers

  • soap

  • alcohol-based hand sanitizer

  • fever-reducing medications (acetaminophen or ibuprofen for adults and children)

  • facial tissue

 

If you become ill

If you feel sick during travel to Canada or upon arrival, inform the flight attendant, cruise staff or a Canadian border services officer. They will decide whether you need further medical assessment by a quarantine officer.

If you are ill and must visit a health care professional, call ahead or tell them when you arrive that you have a respiratory illness. You may be asked to wear a mask while waiting for or receiving treatment to prevent the spread of the illness.

If you have travelled abroad and you develop fever, cough or difficulty breathing in the next 14 days:

  • isolate yourself within the home as quickly as possible and

  • call your health care provider or public health authority

Tell them your symptoms and travel history. Let them know whether you have had direct contact with animals or a sick person, especially if they have had symptoms.

 

For travellers arriving in Canada

The Government of Canada has put in place an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that applies to all travellers arriving in Canada in order to slow the introduction and spread of COVID-19 in Canada.

 

Travellers with symptoms: mandatory isolation

If you have recently returned to Canada and you have symptoms, you must ISOLATE. This is mandatory. If required, immediate medical attention will be provided upon arrival in Canada.

Mandatory isolation means you MUST:

  • go directly to the place where you will isolate, without delay, and stay there for 14 days

  • go to your place of isolation using private transportation only, such as your personal vehicle

  • stay INSIDE your home

  • do not leave your place of isolation unless it's to seek medical attention

  • do not go to school, work, other public areas or use public transportation such as buses and taxis

  • stay in a separate room and use a separate bathroom from others in your home, if possible

  • do not have visitors and limit contact with others in the place of isolation, including children

  • do not isolate in a place where you will have contact with vulnerable people such as older adults and individuals with underlying medical conditions

  • if your symptoms get worse, immediately contact your health care provider or public health authority and follow their instructions

If you have symptoms but do not have a place to isolate, you will be required to isolate for 14 days in a facility designated by the Chief Public Health Officer of Canada.

Violating any instructions provided to you when you entered Canada could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

Travellers without symptoms: mandatory quarantine

If you have recently returned to Canada and you have no symptoms, you must QUARANTINE (self-isolate) yourself. This is mandatory. You are at risk of developing symptoms and infecting others.

This means you MUST:

  • go directly to your place of quarantine, without delay, and stay there for 14 days

  • do not go to school, work, other public areas and community settings

  • monitor your health for symptoms of COVID-19

  • arrange to have someone pick up essentials like groceries or medication for you

  • do not have visitors

  • stay in a private place like your yard or balcony if you go outside for fresh air

  • keep a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others

You can take public transportation to get to your place of self-isolation after you arrive in Canada, but you must not stop on the way home and practice physical (social) distancing at all times.

Violating any instructions provided to you when you entered Canada could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines.

 

If you develop symptoms within 14 days:

  • isolate yourself from others

  • immediately call a health care professional or public health authority and:

    • describe your symptoms and travel history

    • follow their instructions carefully

 

Who do we reach out to help someone to come home from abroad

Please contact Global Affairs directly at 613-996-8885 or visit https://travel.gc.ca/assistance/emergency-assistance

Canadians Currently Outside of Canada

Global Affairs Canada (GAC) has advised that to limit the spread of COVID-19, many countries have put in place travel or border restrictions and other measures such as movement restrictions and quarantines. Airlines have cancelled flights. New restrictions may be imposed with little warning. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted and you may be forced to remain outside of Canada longer than expected.

Contact your airline or tour operator to determine options for cancelling or postponing your trip.

If you are still considering travelling or are already outside of Canada:

  • Check your destination’s Safety and security, Entry/exit requirements and Health sections.

  • Get the Government of Canada’s latest updates on COVID-19.

  • Check the Pandemic COVID-19 travel health notice.

  • Find out what commercial options are still available to return to Canada. Consider returning to Canada earlier than planned if these options are becoming more limited.

  • Ensure that you have sufficient finances and necessities, including medication, in case your travels are disrupted.

  • Check with your travel insurance provider to know more about their policies related to COVID-19. Find out if you are covered for medical treatment if you become infected with COVID-19 as well as for extended stays outside of Canada.

 

This advisory overrides all other risk levels, with the exception of areas for which we advise to avoid all travel (including regional advisories). The avoid all travel advisories remain valid.

Financial help for Canadians affected by COVID-19 outside Canada

Canada has announced the creation of the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad to help Canadians return home. For more information on this program, visit COVID-19: Financial help for Canadians outside Canada.

 

  • For more information, you can contact the 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where possible) or send an e-mail to sos@international.gc.ca

  • We continue to encourage Canadians outside of the country to register in the Registry of Canadians Abroad to receive important updates (https://travel.gc.ca/travelling/registration) and that they check the entry and exit requirements of the countries through which they may be transiting.

 

Support for Canadians

 

March 18th Announcement:  
 

The government has announced measures to support Canadians without paid sick leave, who are sick, quarantined, or forced to stay home. 

 

A full list of the measures can be found here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html

Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents

For Canadians without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children, the Government is:

  • Waiving the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020.

  • Waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.

  • Introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment Benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:

    • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

    • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.

    • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school or daycare closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.

Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:

  1. by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;

  2. by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or

  3. by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.

Longer-Term Income Support for Workers

For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact, the Government is:

  • Introducing an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.

  • Implementing the EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process. This was announced by the Prime Minister on March 11, 2020.

Income Support for Individuals Who Need It Most

For over 12 million low- and modest-income families, who may require additional help with their finances, the Government is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC). This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. The average boost to income for those benefitting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples. This measure will inject $5.5 billion into the economy.

For over 3.5 million families with children, who may also require additional support, the Government is proposing to increase the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child. The overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average; these families will receive an extra $300 per child as part of their May payment. In total, this measure will deliver almost $2 billion in extra support.

Together, the proposed enhancements of the GSTC and CCB will give a single parent with two children and low to modest income nearly $1,500 in additional short-term support.

To ensure that certain groups who may be vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19 have the support they need, the Government is proposing targeted help by:

  • Providing $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.

  • Placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals currently in the process of repaying these loans.

  • Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings. This will provide flexibility to seniors that are concerned that they may be required to liquidate their RRIF assets to meet minimum withdrawal requirements. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan.

  • Providing the Reaching Home initiative with $157.5 million to continue to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak. The funding could be used for a range of needs such as purchasing beds and physical barriers for social distancing and securing accommodation to reduce overcrowding in shelters.

  • Supporting women and children fleeing violence, by providing up to $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities. This includes funding for facilities in Indigenous communities.

Flexibility for Taxpayers

In order to provide greater flexibility to Canadians who may be experiencing hardships during the COVID-19 outbreak, the Canada Revenue Agency will defer the filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals, including certain trusts. 

  • For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.  However, the Agency encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.

  • For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today 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. 

In order to reduce the necessity for taxpayers and tax preparers to meet in person during this difficult time, and to reduce administrative burden, effective immediately the Canada Revenue Agency will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act, as a temporary administrative measure. This provision applies to authorization forms T183 or T183CORP, which are forms that are signed in person by millions of Canadians every year to authorize tax preparers to file taxes.

 

The Canada Revenue Agency is adapting its Outreach Program to support individuals during COVID-19. Through this service, the Canada Revenue Agency offers help to individuals to better understand their tax obligations and to obtain the benefits and credits to which they are entitled. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone, and through webinar, where possible.

The Canada Revenue Agency fully expects that many community organizations are considering whether to significantly reduce or perhaps cancel the provision of services provided under the Community Volunteer Income Tax Program. Additional efforts to encourage individuals to file their tax and benefit returns electronically, or where possible, through the File My Return service, will be put forward.

Role of Financial Institutions

The Minister of Finance is in regular contact with the heads of Canada’s large banks, and continues to encourage them to show flexibility in helping their customers whose personal or business finances are affected by COVID-19. The Superintendent of Financial Institutions has also made clear his expectation that banks will use the additional lending capacity provided by recent government actions to support Canadian businesses and households.

In response, banks in Canada have affirmed their commitment to working with customers to provide flexible solutions, on a case-by-case basis, for managing through hardships caused by recent developments. This may include situations such as pay disruption, childcare disruption, or illness. Canada’s large banks have confirmed that this support will include up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products. These targeted measures respond to immediate challenges being faced across the country and will help stabilize the Canadian economy.

Mortgage Default Management Tools

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers offer tools to lenders that can assist homeowners who may be experiencing financial difficulty. These include payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements.

The Government, through CMHC, is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers offer tools to lenders that can assist homeowners who may be experiencing financial difficulty. These include payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements.

The Government, through CMHC, is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans. CMHC will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.

Mortgage Deferral Information

 

The Canadian Bankers Association provided us with important information about mortgage payment relief measures available from banks for Canadians experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Accessing mortgage relief measures
All bank customers who are currently in good standing and have been impacted by COVID-19 can apply for mortgage relief from their bank. Customers will answer a few questions to help their banks direct applications appropriately.
COVID-related mortgage deferral is available for an indefinite period and customers do not face a deadline for having to seek relief. They can approach their bank as the need arises.


Customers should understand that this is not mortgage forgiveness. Mortgage deferral means that payments are skipped for a defined period of time, during which interest which would otherwise be part of the deferred payments is added to the outstanding balance of the mortgage. The added interest is incorporated into the monthly payment, either when payments resume at the end of the deferral period or upon renewal at the end of the mortgage’s term.


Banks are encouraging customers to visit their websites for the latest information, rather than calling or visiting a branch.
www.bmo.com/main/personal/bmo-branches-coronavirus-update
www.cibc.com/en/personal-banking/advice-centre/covid-19.html
www.nbc.ca/personal/notice.html
www.scotiabank.com/ca/en/personal/scotia-support/latest-updates.html
www.rbc.com/covid-19
www.td.com/ca/en/personal-banking/covid-19

During this period of unprecedented economic upheaval and financial uncertainty, banks in Canada are working diligently to help customers who are experiencing financial difficulty. Canadians who are impacted should contact their bank to discuss relief options suitable for their circumstance, including mortgage payment deferral. A range of channels, including mobile apps and websites, are available for Canadians who are concerned about their financial situation.
 

 

Student Loan Relief

 

The following measures are being put in place to support student loan borrowers during COVID-19:

  • Student loan repayment will be suspended until September 30th, 2020:

    • If you are registered for pre-authorized debit, they will be automatically stopped so you do not have to do anything.

    • If you are making payments by cheque or other means, you are not required to make payments during the suspension period.

    • If you want to continue making payments on your loan, you may do so by logging in to your secure NSLSC account and using the Make a Payment option or through online banking.

  • Interest will not be charged to borrowers on their student loans from March 30th, 2020 to September 30th, 2020.

If your loan was issued by NL, NB, ON, SK or BC, this applies to both the federal and provincial portions of your student loan.

If your loan was issued by PEI, NS, AB or MB, NSLSC only administers the federal portion of your loan, and therefore, this applies to your Canada Student Loan only. However, your province may already have announced similar measures for the provincial portion of your loan; please contact the issuing province for more information.

Note: It may take some time for these measures to be applied to your NSLSC online account. As such, your student loan account may temporarily reflect incorrect information.

How does the suspension affect you if:

You are still in school

The suspension does not impact your loan since you have no payment to make and interest does not accumulate while you are in-study.

You are in your six-month non-repayment period

Payments are never required during the non-repayment period.

  • The non-repayment period is already interest-free for Canada, BC and NL loans;

  • Interest accrues on the provincial portion of the loan for ON, NB and SK; however, between March 30th and September 30th, ON, NB and SK loans will be interest-free.

If your non-repayment period is set to end during the suspension period, payments and interest will automatically be suspended until September 30th and you will start repaying your loan in October 2020.

You have already started to repay your loan

You do not have to do anything; your loan will be interest and payment free until September 30th and you will resume repaying your loan in October 2020. We will provide further information over the coming weeks on repayment options for October.

This information was obtained from the National Student Loans Service Centre (NSLSC) website.

Support for Seniors

Reduced minimum withdrawals for Registered Retirement Income Funds

The Government is reducing the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020.

A registered retirement income fund (RRIF) is an arrangement between you and a carrier (an insurance company, a trust company or a bank) that we register. You transfer property to the carrier from an RRSP, a PRPP, an RPP, an SPP, or from another RRIF, and the carrier makes payments to you.

The minimum amount must be paid to you in the year following the year the RRIF is entered into. Earnings in a RRIF are tax-free and amounts paid out of a RRIF are taxable on receipt.

You can have more than one RRIF and you can have self-directed RRIFs. The rules that apply to self-directed RRIFs are generally the same as those for RRSPs. For more information, see Self-directed RRSPs.

Practical services: delivery of items and personal outreach

The Government is contributing $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors. These services could include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals’ needs and connect them to community supports.

Support for Businesses

The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadian businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On March 13, 2020, Minister of Finance Bill Morneau, Governor of the Bank of Canada Stephen Poloz, and Superintendent of Financial Institutions Jeremy Rudin outlined a coordinated package of measures to support the functioning of markets, the resilience of our financial sector, and continued access to financing for Canadian businesses. These actions will significantly increase the availability of credit to businesses of all sizes, sustain liquidity in key financial markets, and provide flexibility to businesses experiencing hardship.

On March 18, 2020 the government and its partners announced further measures to support businesses. These actions are part of Canada’s whole-of-government response to COVID-19, and the significant stimulus program developed to stabilize Canada’s economy, support businesses and to protect Canadians.

Supporting Canadian Business through the Canada Account

The government is changing the Canada Account so that the Minister of Finance would now be able to determine the limit of the Canada Account in order to deal with exceptional circumstances. The Canada Account is administered by Export Development Canada (EDC) and is used by the government to support exporters when deemed to be in the national interest. This will allow the government to provide additional support to Canadian companies through loans, guarantees or insurance policies during these challenging times.

Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today 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. 

The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

The Liaison Officer service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.

Ensuring Businesses Have Access to Credit

The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. This will be an effective tool for helping viable Canadian businesses remain resilient during these very uncertain times. BDC and EDC are cooperating with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation and tourism. The near term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets, effective immediately. This action will allow Canada’s large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.

The Bank of Canada also took a series of actions to support the Canadian economy during this period of economic stress, enhance the resilience of the Canadian financial system, and help ensure that financial institutions can continue to extend credit to both households and businesses. This included cutting the interest rate to 0.75% as a proactive measure in light of the negative shocks to Canada’s economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices.

Supporting Financial Market Liquidity

As a further proactive and coordinated measure to bolster the financial system and the Canadian economy, the government announced on March 16 that it is launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP). Under this program, the government will purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market. Details of the terms of the purchase operations will be provided to lenders by CMHC later this week.

The IMPP enhances the already substantial set of measures announced on March 13 to support the economy and the financial system. CMHC stands ready to further support liquidity and the stability of the financial markets through its mortgage funding programs as necessary.

Further, the Bank of Canada has announced that it will adjust its market liquidity operations to maintain market functioning and credit availability during the current period of uncertainty in which conditions are evolving rapidly.

The Bank of Canada also announced that it will broaden eligible collateral for its term repo facility to include the full range of collateral eligible under the Standing Liquidity Facility, with the exception of the non-mortgage loan portfolio. This expansion of eligible collateral will provide support to funding conditions for financial institutions by providing a backstop to regular private funding.

The Bank also announced that it stands ready, as a proactive measure, to provide support to the Canada Mortgage Bond (CMB) market so that this important funding market continues to function well. This would include, as required, purchases of CMBs in the secondary market. Similar to the increase in Government of Canada bond buybacks, this will support market liquidity and price discovery.

If you have specific questions about applying for funding, BDC can be reached at the toll-free number: 1-877-232-2269 Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time).
​They also have an online assessment tool: https://www.bdc.ca/en/consulting/pages/financial-planning.aspx

 
 

Support for small businesses facing impacts of COVID‑19

 

On March 27, 2020, the Prime Minister announced additional measures to support small businesses dealing with the economic impacts of the pandemic. These measures will help Canadian businesses protect the jobs that Canadians depend on, and pay their workers and bills during these difficult times.

To further support small businesses, the Government of Canada will:

  • Announce a 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. More details below.

  • Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure is the equivalent of providing up to $30 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian businesses. It will help businesses so they can continue to pay their employees and their bills, and help ease cash-flow challenges across the country.

  • Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses. These loans – guaranteed and funded by the Government of Canada – will ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need, at a zero per cent interest rate, so they can pay for rent and other important costs over the next number of months.

  • Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements.

Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments

 

In order to provide support for Canadian businesses during these unprecedented economic times, the Government is deferring Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) remittances and customs duty payments to June 30, 2020.

This measure could provide up to $30 billion in cash flow or liquidity assistance for Canadian businesses and self-employed individuals over the next three months

GST/HST Remittance Deferral

The GST/HST applies to sales of most goods and services in Canada and at each stage of the supply chain. Vendors must collect the GST/HST and remit it (net of input tax credits) with their GST/HST return for each reporting period.

Vendors with annual sales of more than $6 million remit and report monthly, and those with annual sales of $1.5 million to $6 million are able to remit and report on a quarterly basis (or monthly if they choose to). Small vendors can report annually.

The GST/HST amounts collected are generally due by the end of the month following the vendor’s reporting period: e.g., for a monthly filer, the GST/HST amounts collected on its February sales are due by the end of March.

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 have to remit amounts collected for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods;

  • Quarterly filers have to 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, have to remit amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year. 

Businesses in need of information about their particular obligations may contact the Canada Revenue Agency or refer to its website.

 

Deferral of Customs Duty and Sales Tax for Importers

 

Imported goods by businesses are generally subject to the GST, at a rate of 5 per cent, as well as applicable customs duties, which vary by product and country of origin. While the vast majority of imports enter Canada duty-free, some tariffs remain, especially on consumer goods.

The Customs Act, for which the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is responsible and which is administered by the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA), governs the levying and payment of customs duties in Canada.

Typically, payments owing for customs duties and the GST on imports are due before the first day of the month following the month in which the Statements of Accounts are issued.

Section 33.7(1) of the Customs Act allows the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness or an officer designated by the President of the CBSA to extend, in writing, the timeline for accounting or payment of amounts owing.

Under this authority, payment deadlines for statements of accounts for March, April, and May are being deferred to June 30, 2020.

Businesses in need of information about their particular accounting and payment obligations on imported goods may contact the Canada Border Services Agency for more details.

 

Emergency Wage Subsidy for Small Businesses

 

On April 1st, the Government announced the details of the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy:

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.

  • Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.

  • Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.

  • For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.

  • An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.

 

New Loan Programs for Businesses

 

Canada Emergency Business Account

To ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to see them through the current challenges, the Government of Canada is announcing the launch of the new Canada Emergency Business Account, which will be implemented by eligible financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC).

This $25 billion program will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced, due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 virus.

This will better position them to quickly return to providing services to their communities and creating employment.

Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans.

To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).

 

A New Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium Enterprises

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) may be particularly vulnerable to the impacts of COVID-19. To support their operations, EDC will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans that financial institutions extend to SMEs, up to $6.25 million.

The program cap for this new loan program will be a total of $20 billion for export sector and domestic companies.

 

A New Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises

To provide additional liquidity support for Canadian businesses, the Co-Lending Program will bring the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.

Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts up to $6.25 million BDC’s portion of this program is up to $5 million maximum per loan. Eligible financial institutions will conduct the underwriting and manage the interface with their customers. The potential for lending for this program will be $20 billion.

 

Canada Revenue Agency’s Additional Measures for Individuals and Businesses

 

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) understands that individuals and businesses might be dealing with difficulties filing their income and benefit returns, and could experience cash-flow challenges in the coming months. In response, the CRA will be applying these additional measures:

Administrative tax measures

In addition to the income tax filing and payment deadline extensions, unless otherwise noted, administrative income tax actions required of taxpayers by the CRA that are due after March 18, 2020, can be deferred to June 1, 2020. These administrative income tax actions include returns, elections, designations and information requests. Payroll deductions payments and all related activities are excluded.

Trusts, Partnerships and NR4 Information Returns

The deadlines for trusts, partnership and NR4 information returns are all extended to May 1, 2020. This is due to administrative requirements in advance of the June 1, 2020 deadline for filing individual income tax and benefit returns.

Objections

Any objections related to Canadians' entitlement to benefits and credits have been identified as a critical service and will continue to be processed during the COVID-19 crisis. As a result, there should not be any delays associated with the processing of these objections.

With respect to objections related to other tax matters filed by individuals and businesses, the CRA is currently holding these accounts in abeyance. No collection action will be taken with respect to these accounts during this period of time.

Extending the deadline for filing an objection

For any objection request due March 18 or later, the deadline is effectively extended until June 30, 2020.

Canada Pension Plan/Employment Insurance (CPP/EI) appeals to the Minister

In cases where taxpayers wish to file an appeal in relation to CPP/EI rulings decision, they are encouraged to do so through MyAccount to avoid potential delays.

The CPP/EI appeals program is currently only actioning appeals that are related to cases where EI benefits are pending. These cases will be treated on a priority basis. All other appeals will be actioned when normal services resume. 

In addition, the CPP/EI Appeals to the Minister program will exercise discretion on a case by case basis when additional time is required to respond to a request.

Deadlines for charities

CRA is extending the filing deadline to December 31, 2020, for all charities with a Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return due between March 18, 2020 and December 31, 2020. This will allow charities more time to complete and submit their T3010.

Suspending audit activities

CRA will not initiate contact with taxpayers for audits, with certain exceptions, This includes:

  • no new audits being launched, and

  • no requests for information related to existing audits.

No audits should be finalized and no reassessments should be issued.

Suspending collections on new debt

Collections activities on new debts will be suspended until further notice, and flexible payment arrangements will be available.

Payment arrangements are also available on a case-by-case basis if you can’t pay your taxes, child and family benefit overpayments, Canada Student Loans, or other government program overpayments in full.

If you have concerns and require contact with a Collections Officer, please contact our toll free number 1-800-675-6184 between 8:00 a.m. and 4:00 p.m. your local time.

Requirement to pay (RTP)

Banks and employers do not need to comply or remit on existing RTPs during this time.

Taxpayer relief requests

Taxpayers who are unable to file a return or make a payment by the tax-filing and payment deadlines because of COVID-19 can request the cancellation of penalty and interest charged to their account. Penalties and interest will not be charged if the new deadlines that the government has announced to tax-filing and payments are met. For more information about deadlines, see Helping Canadians with the economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

For more information about taxpayer relief and how to make a request to the CRA to have interest and/or penalties cancelled, please go to Canada.ca/taxpayer-relief.  

For more information, visit Helping Canadians with the economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

 

Employment Insurance Benefits

 

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

If you are eligible, visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.

Service Canada is ready to support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:

  • The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim

 
  • Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support enquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period

  • People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate

  • People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay

Important: If you are directly affected by the COVID-19 because you are sick or quarantined and you have not yet applied for EI benefits, please submit your application before contacting us. This will allow us to better serve you and prevent delays in establishing your claim.

If you have already completed the application for EI sickness benefits whether you are sick or quarantined and would like to have the one-week waiting period waived, call the new toll-free phone number below. It is important to note that no other request will be actioned on this phone line. We will take action only for sick or quarantined clients affected by the COVID-19 for which the application for sickness benefits has been filed.

  • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)

  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

If you are experiencing symptoms such as cough, fever, difficulty breathing or you are in self-isolation or quarantine, do not visit or enter any Service Canada office.  As an alternative, you may access our services online or by calling 1 800 O-Canada.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

On March 25, 2020, the Government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help workers and businesses.

The Government of Canada is taking strong, immediate and effective action to protect Canadians and the economy from the impacts of the global COVID-19 pandemic. No Canadian should have to choose between protecting their health, putting food on the table, paying for their medication or caring for a family member.

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). 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. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or 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. The CERB would apply 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. This would help businesses keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.

The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in the past week. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.

Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19. Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply. Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.

The government is working to get money into the pockets of Canadians as quickly as possible. The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April.

 

EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for Employment Insurance HERE, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.

This benefit would be one part of the government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, to support Canadian workers and businesses and help stabilize the economy by helping Canadians pay for essentials like housing and groceries, and helping businesses pay their employees and bills during this unprecedented time of global uncertainty.

 

Set up your online CRA 'My Account' as soon as possible. Through this account, you can apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit on April 6th.

Who can apply, How to apply, After you apply - find these details on the CERB webpage 

 

Partnerships with Canadian industry to fight the COVID-19 pandemic

Canadian businesses and manufacturers are stepping up to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. The Government of Canada is working with these companies to ensure our health care workers have the tools they need to care for Canadians across the country.

The Government of Canada is investing $2 billion to support diagnostic testing and to purchase ventilators and protective personal equipment, including for bulk purchases with provinces and territories. Personal protective equipment includes things like more masks and face shields, gowns, and hand sanitizer.

 

The Government of Canada has signed new procurement agreements with Canadian companies Thornhill Medical, Medicom, and Spartan Bioscience to purchase and boost capacity to manufacture equipment and supplies including portable ventilators, surgical masks, and rapid testing kits. It has also signed letters of intent with five companies – Precision Biomonitoring, Fluid Energy Group Ltd., Irving Oil, Calko Group, and Stanfield’s – to produce additional test kits, hand sanitizer, and protective apparel including masks and gowns.

The government welcomes the cooperation of other companies and industries that have answered the call to action and offered their support in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic. This includes efforts from companies to re-tool their facilities and double their production capacity, to collect and donate existing supplies and equipment, and to combine resources to manufacture needed supplies more quickly.

Useful links for Health Product Manufacturers and Distributors in Relation to COVID-19:

Health product industry page

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/covid19-industry.html

https://www.canada.ca/fr/sante-canada/services/medicaments-produits-sante/covid19-industrie.html

Diagnostic devices

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/medical-devices/covid-19.html

https://www.canada.ca/fr/sante-canada/services/medicaments-produits-sante/instruments-medicaux/covid-19.html

 

Disinfectants

https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/disinfectants/covid-19.html

https://www.canada.ca/fr/sante-canada/services/medicaments-produits-sante/desinfectants/covid-19.html

 

 

“Calling on Suppliers”

https://buyandsell.gc.ca/calling-all-suppliers-help-canada-combat-covid-19

 

For any questions/requests/applications for medical devices, including test kits:

hc.devicelicensing-homologationinstruments.sc@canada.ca

 

For any questions/requests/applications for other health products, including hand sanitizer:

hc.covid19healthproducts-produitsdesante.sc@canada.ca

 
 

Useful Contacts​

  • Coronavirus Hotline - 1-833-784-4397

  • Leeds-Grenville-Lanark Public Health Unit - 1-800-660-5853

  • Global Affairs - 613-996-8885

  • Service Canada (EI) - 1-833-381-2725

  • BDC (Small Business Loan) - 1-877-232-2269 

  • Constituency Office of MP Michael Barrett - 1-866-498-3096

List of contacts compiled and published freely by Dr. Jennifer Robson, Associate Professor of Political Management at Carleton University. Click on the PDF button to the left to download the list.
You can read the original document here: https://t.co/m0dXFYIZwk?amp=1.
Dr. Robson is not affiliated with this website or its publishers. 

Support for Food Banks and Food Organizations

On April 3rd, the Government announced an investment of $100 million to improve access to food for Canadians facing social, economic, and health impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Government of Canada will provide funding to national, regional, and local organizations across Canada that are able to reach people and communities experiencing food insecurity. These organizations – including but not limited to Food Banks Canada, Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada – will work with partners to meet the urgent food needs of Canadians, including Indigenous peoples and Northern populations.

This funding will be used to purchase food and other basic necessities. It will help these organizations find new, creative ways to reach people in need, so they can continue to carry out their important work while respecting physical distancing guidelines. They will be able to use the funding to buy or rent equipment and other materials to help address the unique needs of the communities they serve and the health-related challenges presented by COVID-19.

  • The $100 million investment is divided as follows:

    • $50 million to Food Banks Canada

    • $20 million divided evenly between Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada

    • $30 million for local-level organizations who serve people experiencing food insecurity

  • Funding will be delivered through the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund. The Fund, launched in the summer of 2019, aims to strengthen food systems and facilitate access to safe and nutritious food for at-risk populations. Currently, more than 360 projects are receiving funding to increase accessibility of healthy, local foods within their communities, including through urban gardens, community kitchens, food banks, and greenhouses.

  • Eligible activities for this new funding include the purchase of food, support for the transportation and distribution of food, hiring temporary help to fill volunteer shortages, and activities to implement biosecurity measures, such as the purchase of personal protective equipment, to reduce the spread of COVID-19 among volunteers and clients.

 

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