A time of difficult choices for family businesses
Supporting staff who may be financially at risk
For many small businesses, quality staff play a central role in building a successful business and are an indelible part of the work family. But as we are learning, these ties can easily be disrupted by extreme and sudden events like the unprecedented situation we currently find ourselves in. Today, the COVID-19 pandemic has left many small businesses in Canada with no choice but to cut down hours or close down entirely and in many cases lay off staff, leaving countless individuals and families in a precarious financial situation.
As a result, the Government of Canada has announced economic measures to help stabilize the economy with $27 billion earmarked for Canadian families and businesses. Additionally, Ottawa is setting aside up to $55 billion in tax deferrals for Canadians.
We have compiled the following list of new measures as a quick reference to help any of your employees who require additional financial support during this challenging time. For more information and to apply for the subsidies, please visit the Government of Canada website.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
Individuals who are self-employed may be eligible for the CERB, which is a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months. Application for the benefit will be available in April 2020.
Who may be eligible:
- Workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support
- Workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
- Working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures
- Workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work
- Wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance
- For more information – visit the Government of Canada’s website.
Other EI relief
- The Federal Government has removed, for at least six months, the one-week waiting period for individuals in imposed quarantine that claim EI sickness benefits. This temporary measure will be in effect from March 15, 2020 (announced on March 11, 2020).
- The requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits has also been removed.
Longer-term support: Workers at risk of losing their jobs
- The government is introducing an emergency support benefit delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency starting in April 2020 to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
Goods and Services Tax Credit (GSTC) and Canada Child Benefit (CCB): Low-to-modest income families
For over 12 million low and modest-income families, who may require additional financial assistance, the Government is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the GSTC. This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-2020 year. The average boost to income 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 CCB payment amounts, only for the 2019-2020 year, by $300 per child. These families will also receive an extra $300 per child as part of their May payment.
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.
Other measures: Vulnerable groups
To ensure that certain groups who may be vulnerable to the impact of COVID-19 have the support they need, the government is proposing targeted help by:
- 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 who 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 $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.
- 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 within Indigenous communities.
Mortgage default management tools
The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers provide more flexibility for lenders to postpone mortgage payments associated with government-insured mortgages for borrowers experiencing financial difficulties due to the pandemic. Insurers will now allow lenders to authorize deferred payments.
Contact us should you have any questions.