TAKING CARE OF EMPLOYEES AND ENTREPRENEURS
Canada Emergency Response Benefit – Apply Now!
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides $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 is available to 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 applies to wage and dividend earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).
Many thanks to MP Mike Kelloway for providing clarifications on several points related to the CERB that we’ve heard from our members!
- Many small business owners pay themselves in Dividends from their corporation, rather then a salary. We’ve confirmed that dividend income will be permitted towards CERB eligibility.
- There are many small business owners who would like to lay themselves off in order to keep as many of their people employed as possible. We’ve confirmed that business owners/managers do not need to be laid off to access CERB, just not earning income. So an owner CAN be getting the CERB and still access the wage subsidy for their employees.
- We’ve had several inquiries from salons, gyms, etc that have had to close under the Public Order from the provincial government. Business owners have applied for the CERB but are now wondering if they can try to sell some retail product online and ship it. We’ve confirmed that a business owner/manager generating revenue for their business through retail CAN still access the CERB, so long as they aren’t personally drawing income from the revenue.
The Government of Canada is extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers. Learn More
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – Application is now open
The Government of Canada announced an up to 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. The subsidy will 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 will need to have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March and 30% in the following months when compared to the same months in 2019, or to an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020.
- Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
- To recognize that different types of organizations are experiencing different types of funding pressures, it is proposed that charities and non-profit organizations be allowed to choose to include or exclude government funding in their revenues for the purpose of applying the revenue reduction test.
- 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.
- In recognition that the time between when revenue is earned and when it is paid could be highly variable in certain sectors of the economy, it is proposed that employers be allowed to measure revenues either on the basis of accrual accounting (as they are earned) or cash accounting (as they are received). Special rules would also be provided to address issues for corporate groups, non-arm’s length entities and joint ventures.
Grant Thornton recently released a summary with valuable information for employers on the CEWS that provides an in-depth analysis of how the program will benefit your organization. Learn More
Applications opened on Monday, April 27 for the CEWS. In order to apply, you will need to first use the CEWS Calculator that is now online. There is no limit on the total subsidy amount that an eligible employer may claim. Click here to get started. Before you calculate your subsidy, make sure you are eligible to apply.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Guide
If you’ve been considering applying for the Wage Subsidy, you’ll find this Guide a helpful document full of hyperlinks to assist you in the process. This important economic measure provides up to $847 per employee per week, to eligible employers, for up to 12 weeks, preventing further job losses and encouraging employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
COVID 19 Worker Emergency Bridge – for workers ($20 million)
The Worker Emergency Bridge will help people who are no longer working and need help as soon as possible. Nova Scotians laid off or out of work on or after March 16 due to COVID-19, who earn between $5,000 and $34,000, and are ineligible for Employment Insurance, are eligible for a one-time, $1,000 payment to help them meet their basic needs. Eligibility for the program is not affected by a person or business being enrolled in another provincial program or the federal initiatives. For example, this can be combined with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Eligibility for the program is not affected by a person or business being enrolled in another provincial program or the federal initiatives. For example, this can be combined with the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). Learn More
Records of Employment
If your employees are directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and they are no longer working, you must issue a Record of Employment (ROE). You can order these forms through ROE Web.
- When the employee is sick or quarantined, use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation (block 16). Do not add comments.
- When the employee is no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), use code A (Shortage of work). Do not add comments.
- When the employee refuses to come to work but is not sick or quarantined, use code E (Quit) or code N (Leave of absence), as appropriate. Avoid adding comments unless absolutely necessary and get advice prior to issuing a code E or N in the current situation, as there could be legal or negative consequences for the employer if used inappropriately.
Managing Financial Health in Challenging Times
We know that financial stressors have a tremendous impact on mental health. Families may be experiencing anxieties around finances, from how to maintain your lifestyle during this pandemic to first-hand hardship through loss of an income. Whatever the source, financial emergencies can be stressful and cause considerable hardship for you and your family. If you or someone in your circle is experiencing hardships, consider consulting this resource from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: COVID-19 – Managing financial health in challenging times.
ACCESS TO CREDIT
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)
The Government of Canada has announced additional relief for businesses who have either unsuccessfully applied for COVID-19 programs or who have successfully done so but continue to face hardship. They have created the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to address gaps left by other support measures. $110 million is being allocated to support affected Atlantic Canadian businesses and communities. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) and the Atlantic Association of Community Business Development Corporations (CBDCs) will be distributing the RRRF in Atlantic Canada. Businesses in sectors that are critical to the resilience and survival of Atlantic Canada’s economy, such as advanced manufacturing, ocean industries, clean growth technology, and tourism, may be given priority. You can apply by speaking to an ACOA program officer to ensure the RRRF meets your needs and fill out the RRRF application form online. Learn More
COVID-19 Small Business Credit and Support Program
Eligible small businesses can get a loan of up to $25,000 through participating provincial credit unions. The loan application will be available from 29 April to 30 June 2020. If approved for the loan, businesses will also be eligible for a one-time grant of up to $1,500 and a business continuity voucher of up to $1,500. The voucher supports businesses in accessing professional advice and support to help adapt to, or recover from, the impacts of COVID-19. To be eligible under the COVID19 Response Stream, a borrower must meet the following criteria.
- The Borrower’s wages and salaries paid in the 2019 calendar year was less than $20,000, or if a new business, is projected to pay less that $20,000 in 2020. The calculation of total wages and salaries does not include dividends paid to business owners.
- Has not received a loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account program.
- Experienced a decline in revenue of at least 15% in March 2020 or at least 30% in April, May or June 2020 for the same period in the 2019 or, if a new business, is projected to lose revenue in the month of application.
- Business established before March 1, 2020.
- Be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, co-operatives, society, social enterprise, not for profit, charity in business, and other similar organizations. Online applications can be found here: www.honestmoney.ca/nsbusinessrelief
As part of the package of supports for small businesses, the province is working with post-secondary education partners to deliver education, training and guidance to small businesses. A centralized hub hosted by the Nova Scotia Community College will connect businesses to support programs available from post-secondary institutions and other regional organizations which is accessible at email@example.com or through www.nscc.ca/businesssupport.
Business Opportunity! The voucher associated with this program can be accessed by businesses/non-profits once they’re approved for the loan. The business can select a consultant of their choice to assist with the challenges they’re facing. NSBI is assembling a consultant directory to assist businesses in making these connections. Consulting companies wishing to be placed in the directory can email firstname.lastname@example.org. Learn More.
Canada Emergency Business Account
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) 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. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Business owners can apply for support from the Canada Emergency Business Account through their banks and credit unions.
The program has been expanded and is now available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll. To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:
- a business operating account at a participating financial institution
- a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
- eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.
Business Credit Availability Program
On May 11 the Federal Government expanded the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million.
The Government of Canada established a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to provide $65 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). BDC and EDC are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, exportation and tourism. This program includes:
- Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to small businesses for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses can obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program at a commercial interest rate with a 10-year repayment period. Like the one above, this program will roll out in mid-April, and interested businesses should reach out to their current financial institutions to get ready to apply.
- Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – Similar to the BDC, Export Development Canada is also working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.
These programs will roll out in mid-April, and interested businesses should reach out to their current financial institutions to get ready to apply. Learn More about the BCAP.
Support for Women Entrepreneurs
On Saturday, Minister Ng announced that the Government of Canada will provide $15 million in additional funding to support women entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). This money will go directly to select organizations that are currently WES Ecosystem Fund recipients and will help women entrepreneurs through the COVID-19 pandemic. This investment is designed to help thousands of women entrepreneurs and business owners navigate this crisis, ensuring they can access the support they need through things like business workshops, mentorship and skills training to adapt to a digital marketplace.
Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations
The COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations is now available. The Emergency Support Fund will provide additional temporary relief to support cultural, heritage and sport organizations and help them plan for the future. The Fund will help maintain jobs and support business continuity for organizations whose viability has been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Up to $326.8 million to be distributed by Canadian Heritage, of which:
- $198.3 million will be provided to the beneficiaries of arts and culture funding through existing programs as well as other organizations with demonstrated needs;
- $72 million will be provided to the sport sector;
- $53 million will be provided to the heritage sector through the emergency component of the Museums Assistance Program; and,
- $3.5 million will be provided for COVID-related projects under the Digital Citizen Initiative.
- $55 million to be distributed by the Canada Council for the Arts to help arts organizations that support artists.
- $115.8 million to support the Canadian audiovisual sector, to be distributed by the Canada Media Fund ($88.8 million) and Telefilm Canada ($27 million).
The use of the remaining funds will be assessed based on needs. Learn More
Nova Scotia Business Inc Small Business Development Program
NSBI has updated the Small Business Development Program to serve Nova Scotia businesses better. The program helps businesses work with a private consultant to overcome a pain point or barrier, or a business expert to help identify and develop the leadership skills needed to scale your company. Learn More
Increasing Credit Available to Farmers
The Government of Canada is supporting Farm Credit Canada by allowing an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. This will offer increased flexibility to farmers who face cashflow issues and to processors who are impacted by lost sales, helping them remain financially strong during this difficult time. Learn More
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)
Establish a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going. The objective of this support is to help protect Canadian jobs, help Canadian businesses weather the current economic downturn, and avoid bankruptcies of otherwise viable firms where possible. This support will not be used to resolve insolvencies or restructure firms, nor will it provide financing to companies that otherwise have the capacity to manage through the crisis. The additional liquidity provided through LEEFF will allow Canada’s largest businesses and their suppliers to remain active during this difficult time, and position them for a rapid economic recovery.
Use key guiding principles in providing support through the LEEFF, including:
- Protection of taxpayers and workers: Companies seeking support must demonstrate how they intend to preserve employment and maintain investment activities. Recipients will need to commit to respect collective bargaining agreements and protect workers’ pensions. The LEEFF program will require strict limits to dividends, share buy-backs, and executive pay. In considering a company’s eligibility to assistance under the LEEFF program, an assessment may be made of its employment, tax, and economic activity in Canada, as well as its international organizational structure and financing arrangements. The program will not be available to companies that have been convicted of tax evasion. In addition, recipient companies would be required to commit to publish annual climate-related disclosure reports consistent with the Financial Stability Board’s Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures, including how their future operations will support environmental sustainability and national climate goals.
- Fairness: To ensure support across the Canadian economy, the financing is intended to be applicable to all eligible sectors in a consistent manner.
- Timeliness: To ensure timely support, the LEEFF program will apply a standard set of economic terms and conditions.
Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund
The Prime Minister has announced $62.5 million of new assistance to the fish and seafood processing sector. This new Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund will help businesses:
- Access short-term financing to pay for maintenance and inventory costs
- Add storage capacity for unsold product
- Comply with new health and safety measures for workers
- Support new manufacturing/automated technologies to improve productivity and quality of finished seafood products
- Adapt products to respond to changing requirements and new market demands
Small Business COVID 19 Impact/Sustainability Grant – for employers ($20 million)
UPDATE: The Small Business Impact Grant closed to applications Saturday, April 25. Assessments continue on the applications received by deadline, and applicants will be notified of results this week.
Small businesses are highly valued in Nova Scotia. Their recovery from interruptions caused by Covid-19 is important for our economy and our communities. Small businesses ordered to close or with operations substantially curtailed by the Public Health orders can access support through the new Small Business Sustainability Grant. This flexible, onetime, upfront grant can be used by the business owner as they determine, for their business to weather this unprecedented period. Eligible small business can receive a grant of up to 15 per cent of their revenue from sales for either February 2020 or April 2019, at the option of the business owner, to a maximum of $5,000 per enterprise. Click here for Eligibility Criteria. The COVID-19 Small Business Impact Grant can be combined with all other federal and provincial support for small business.
PAYMENT, RENT, AND TAX RELIEF
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Portal
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) is administering the CECRA program on behalf of the Government of Canada and the provinces and territories. The application portal for the federal/provincial rent deferral program will open on Monday, May 25. CMHC now has a portal online for the program; applications are now available on the CMHC portal.
Rent Deferral Agreement – Deadline Extended
The Provincial Government is encouraging landlords to defer rent for their tenants. If you’re deferring rent because your tenant’s business is closed due to the Health Protection Act order, you could be eligible for coverage (up to a maximum of $50,000 per landlord and $15,000 per tenant) if you can’t recover the deferred rent. To be eligible for the COVID-19 Small Business Rental Deferral Guarantee Program, landlords must register with the Department of Business by emailing NSRentDeferral@novascotia.ca. The rent deferral agreement deadline has been extended from April 1 to June 26, and must be registered with the Department of Business. The Department of Business also provided a template to help set up the agreement. Learn More
Deferring the Payment of Business Income Taxes
The Government of Canada is allowing all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 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. Learn More
Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments
The Government of Canada will allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), as well as customs duties owing on their imports. The deferral will apply to GST/HST remittances for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods for monthly filers; the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period for quarterly filers; and for annual filers, the amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year.
Changes to Payments to the Province
The Provincial Government will defer payments until June 30 for all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.
- Government will defer payments until June 30 for small business renewal fees, including business registration renewal fees and workers compensation premiums (a list of fees will be posted online early next week).
- Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through credit unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30, enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000, and for those who might not qualify for a loan, government will guarantee the first $100,000.
- Small businesses which do business with the government will be paid within five days instead of the standard 30 days.
Changes to the Registry of Joint Stocks
All Registry of Joint Stock Company (RJSC) renewals due in March, April and May 2020 have been extended to June 30, 2020. Name reservations, sole proprietorship and partnership registrations and annual renewals can be completed online. Counter service is not available at this time. The Business Registration Unit, located on 6 North in the Maritime Centre, 1505 Barrington Street, Halifax, will have a dropbox in the building lobby for deliveries of documents for processing. Drop boxes are in place at Access Nova Scotia Centre locations in Yarmouth, Kentville, Bridgewater, Dartmouth, Amherst, Stellarton and Sydney to receive RJSC deliveries and will be delivered to the Maritime Centre for processing.
During this period, scanned copies of originally signed documents or digitally signed documents where the digital signature information is clearly readable when the document is printed, will be accepted. These scanned or digitally signed documents may be submitted via email to RJSC@novascotia.ca.
Emails containing a credit card number is automatically blocked for security reasons. Please provide a phone number of a contact person from whom to obtain the relevant credit card information to complete payment. Contact the RJSC directly at 902-424-7770 or 1-800-225-8227 with any questions.
Nova Scotia Power Providing Options & Payment Relief
In an email to customers, NS Power President & CEO Wayne O’Connor issued the following statement: “We’ve been listening to you. We understand that many of you are concerned about the future, about employment insecurity and your ability to pay your bills. The last thing we want you to worry about is going without power during this tough time. We are here to help. For at least the next 90 days, we will not be disconnecting customers for nonpayment. We’re also committed to being flexible, relaxing payment timelines, waiving penalties and fees on unpaid bills, and providing options for residential and small business customers. If you’re struggling to pay your bill, our Customer Care team is ready to listen and work with you, so you can stay as current as possible with your payments. We also encourage those that can, to stay up to date with their payments. Not only will this avoid building up a balance, but it will help us support those who are most in need of financial assistance.”
Also announced was a further donation of $500,000 to support customers through the HEAT Fund. The Home Energy Assistance Top-up (HEAT Fund) is available annually to individuals and families in Nova Scotia who live on a low income to help pay their energy bill. Customers can learn more about the program at nspower.ca/heatfund.
The Prime Minister warned Canadians about a text scam going around on the new emergency response benefit. Trudeau said Canadians should be looking at reliable sources for information on the pandemic and relief efforts, such as government websites. Learn more
Free Intro to Cyber Security Course
The Strait Area Chamber of Commerce has partnered with the NSCC and Cisco Systems to provide FREE access to our Chamber Members to a series of online NetAcad™ Courses! There is no previous knowledge required, and no requirement or time limit to complete the course once you start. You can learn at your own pace and in the comfort of your own space! The Intro to Cyber Security course explores cyber trends, threats and staying safe in cyberspace, and protecting personal and company data. Learn More
Canadian Chamber and CIRA Cybersecurity Program
Canadians Should Be Vigilant for Scams Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic – As part of the Canadian Chamber’s Essential Business Services, they launched a cybersecurity program with CIRA, the non-profit that runs the .CA web domain. With more people working from home and many businesses switching to online operations, it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant for email phishing scams and other malicious cyber attacks. Learn more