COVID-19: What You Should Know

General Law - Law Blog
Mar
March 26, 2020

COVID-19: What You Should Know

Rajan Basi - Blog Avatar - Law Firm Victoria BC
by
Rajan Basi

In an effort to serve our clients and community better, we created this post to keep you informed of the most recent updates related to the spread of the Covid-19 virus and how it might impact you and your loved ones.

Like many of you, we take the spread of this virus very seriously, but will continue to do our best to service our clients and community under the guidelines put forward by the Canadian government and international health professionals.

If you require any legal advice during these trying times, please do not hesitate to contact us through our website, or call us at (250)385-6004 / (888) 385-6004 to discuss.

Thank you,
The Infinity Law Leadership & Staff
______________________________________________

COVID-19 UPDATEApril 15, 2020

This memorandum has been prepared with respect to information gathered on the Canadian Government's financial support plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following information has been gathered from the CTV website

Part-time and seasonal workers are now eligible to claim the $2,000 Canada Emergency Response Benefit, and new money is coming for front-line workers. Workers who are earning less than $1,000 a month, such as contract or gig economy workers, or who have seasonal employment and can’t find a job due to COVID-19, as well as those who are running out of employment insurance, can now apply to the CERB.

The PM also announced a wage increase for essential workers who make less than $2,500 a month, including lg term care facilities for the elderly.

Please check with any and all relevant professionals on the above advice before reliance.

Yours truly,
Infinity Law

COVID-19 UPDATEApril 9, 2020

This memorandum has been prepared with respect to information gathered on the Canadian Government's financial support plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following information has been gathered from the CBC website

The CEBA loan program was first announced on March 27 and is intended to support small businesses struggling with the financial impact of COVID-19. The $25 billion program offers government-backed loans of up to $40,000, interest-free until the end of 2022, administered by banks.

The chart below outlines the eligibility for the various relief programs provided to Canadians.

Please check with any and all relevant professionals on the above advice before reliance.

Yours truly,
Infinity Law

COVID-19 UPDATEApril 6, 2020

This memorandum has been prepared with respect to information gathered on the Canadian Government's financial support plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following information has been gathered from the Government of Canada website

Applying for Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The CERB supports Canadians by providing financial support to employed and self-employed Canadians who are directly affected by COVID-19.

It provides a payment of $2,000 for a 4-week period (the same as $500 a week) for up to 16 weeks.

After you apply, you should get your payment in 3 business days if you signed up for direct deposit. If you haven’t, you should get it in about 10 business days

Who Can Apply

To be eligible, you must meet the following requirements:

  • You reside in Canada
  • You are 15 years old or more when you apply

For your first CERB application:

  • You have stopped or will stop working due to reasons related to COVID-19
  • For at least 14 days in a row for the period you are applying for, you will not receive:
  • employment income
  • self-employment income
  • provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave

For your subsequent CERB applications:

  • You continue to not work due to reasons related to COVID-19
  • For the 4 week period you are applying for, you will not receive:
  • employment income;
  • self-employment income; or
  • provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave.
  • You have not quit your job voluntarily
  • You did not apply for, nor receive, CERB or EI benefits from Service Canada for the same eligibility period
  • You earned a minimum of $5,000 income in the last 12 months or in 2019 from one or more of the following sources:
  • employment income
  • self-employment income
  • provincial or federal benefits related to maternity or paternity leave

Eligibility Periods

Eligibility periods are fixed in 4-week periods.

If your situation continues, you can re-apply for CERB for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods).

How to apply

There are two ways to apply:

  • Online with "RA My Account
  • Over the phone with an automated phone service

By phone: Call the automated toll-free line

Before you call To verify your identity, you'll need

  • your social insurance number (SIN)
  • postal code

If you are calling the CRA on behalf of someone else, you must be an authorized representative

Telephone number

Follow the instructions below before you call 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041

The CRA will issue payments by direct deposit or cheque, based on the payment method we have on file for you.

Both of these services are available 21 hours a day, 7 days a week. Both services are closed from 3:00 a.m. to 6:00 a.m. (Eastern time) for maintenance.

After you apply

If you are eligible for the CERB, you can expect $2,000 ($500 per week) for a 4-week period.

The CERB is paid by direct deposit or by cheque if your direct deposit information is not on file.

After you apply, you should get your payment in 3 business days if you signed up for direct deposit. If you haven't, you should get it in about 10 business days. If your situation continues, you can re-apply for a payment for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods).

Note: These benefits are taxable and you will need to report any payments received on next year's tax filing. An information slip will be made available for the 2020 tax year in My Account under Tax Information Slips (T4 and more).

Payment

Payment will be delivered by direct deposit or by cheque. The choice is up to the Applicant.

When To Apply

Whether you apply online or by phone, we want to provide the best service possible to everyone. To help manage this, we have set up specific days for you to apply. Please use the following guidelines:

Days to apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit

If you were born in the month of:        Apply for CERB on:                     Your best day to apply:

January, February or March                   Mondays                                          April 6

April, May, or June                                  Tuesdays                                         April 7

July, August, or September                   Wednesdays                                    April 8

October, November, or December        Thursdays                                        April 9

Any month                                     Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays

Please check with any and all relevant professionals on the above advice before reliance.

Yours truly,
Infinity Law

COVID-10 UPDATEMarch 30, 2020

This memorandum has been prepared with respect to information gathered on the Canadian Government's financial support plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following information has been gathered from the Government of Canada website.

Wage Subsidy Package

The Federal Government announced today that the wage subsidy program will increase, from the original 10% to 75%. This aid will be available to businesses of all sizes, including charities and non-profits that have suffered a 30% drop in revenue. However, the aid comes with a stern warning to business who do not qualify but attempt to receive aid will be handed severe consequences.

The breakdown of the aid involves coverage for up to 75% of salaries per pay period, but to a maximum of $58,700. This works out to a subsidy of $847.00 per week. Prime Minister Trudeau has encouraged businesses who have the means to pay the remaining 25%, to do so.

The details are expected to be released later this week including eligibility, payment schedule and how the program will operate moving forward.

Business Loans

The Canadian Government has also announced loans up to $40,000 for small and medium sized business that are to be interest free for one (1) year. Under certain conditions, up to $10,000 of the loans could be deemed non-repayable.

Please check with any and all relevant professionals on the above advice before reliance.

Yours truly,
Infinity Law

COVID-19 UPDATEMarch 26, 2020

**Please see below for a memorandum from Norgaard Kratofil Professional Group (NKPG)**

This memorandum has been prepared with respect to information on the Canadian Government’s financial support plan in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The following information has been gathered from:

Federal Aid Package

As of 12:18pm on Wednesday March 25, an emergency federal bill gave the government approximately $52 billion in funds to directly help Canadians, including a repackaged aid program for workers who can’t work.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit(CERB) will offer $2,000.00 a month in direct support to Canadians through theCRA. Another $55 billion is on the table in deferred tax payments for business and individuals.

The $2,000.00 will be paid per month for the next four (4) months to aid Canadians with rental payments and groceries.

Who Qualifies?

CERB is available to wage earners, contract workers and those who are self-employed who do not qualify for EI.

The Application Process

The online portal for applications will be available in early April and payments can be expected within ten (10) days. The payments will be issued every four (4) weeks and will be available from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.

Aid for Small Businesses

In addition to the information released last week, if you are a small business owner or have been effected due to the OVID-19 situation, please visit the Government of Canada website – https://bit.ly/33OYabK

BC Government Aid

The BC Government is planning to provide a $5 Billion relief package. This package will be for BC residents and business who are affected by the novel coronavirus. The package will provide $2.8 billion for residents and services, and $2.2 billion for business.

The BC COVID-19 Action plan also includes funding for essential health services and targeted tax relief for residents and business, and include help for renters to ensure that no one will be evicted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Included in the plan is also a one-time $1,000 payment to those whose employment is affected by the coronavirus pandemic from the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers.

Information For Renters & Landlords

Temporary Rent Supplement

The BC Government is offering up to $500.00 in rent supplement payments for each of the next four (4) months to aid those whose income have been affected by COVID-19. This rent supplement will be paid directly to landlords.

Evictions

Premier Horgan also announced a freeze on rent increases and most evictions, and warned that the new fund is reserved for people who have lost their jobs, had hours cut, or are confined at home. Eviction shave been halted by ensuring a landlord may not issue a new notice to end tenancy for any reason.

However, in exceptional cases where it may be needed to protect health and safety or to prevent undue damage to the property, the landlords will be able to apply to the Residential Tenancy Branch (RTB) fora hearing.

There has been a halt on the enforcement of existing eviction notices issued by the RTB except in extreme cases where there are safety concerns. The smaller number of court ordered evictions are up to the courts, which operate independently of government.

Rent Freeze

Annual rent increases have been frozen during the state of emergency.

Landlords

Landlords are prevented from accessing the rental unit in question without the consent of the tenant, except in exceptional cases where it is needed to protect health and safety or prevent undue damage.

Landlords may now use email to serve notices in order to reduce the potential transmission of COVID-19. Landlords are also allowed to restrict the use of common areas by tenants or guests to protect against COVID-19 transmission.

The Tax-Free Benefit

The tax-free benefit is intended for workers who have been laid off, who are sick or are in quarantine, or who are taking care of a sick child or relative. It will also apply to parents who stay at home from while due to child care centres and schools being closed.

Timeline

The application process is scheduled to open in early April with individual payments amounting to roughly $2000.00 a month expected ten (10) days later.

It is important to note that no specific timeline has been outlined, but Premier Horgan stated that some parts of the plan will take effect immediately, while others will be phased in over time.

Please check with any and all relevant professionals on the above advice before reliance.

Yours truly,
Infinity Law

COVID-19 UPDATEMarch 19, 2020

BORDER CLOSURE

Prime Minister Trudeau announced that the Canada-USA border will close to non-essential travel as of midnight Friday (March 20). Come Saturday March 21, no tourists or visitors will be allowed in.

When will the aid arrive?

Federal Finance Minister Bill Morneau on Thursday stated that emergency funds should be made available in two to three weeks. The aid will be delivered into applicants by direct deposit, rather than cheques in the mail.

The emergency aid will also include a plan to provide income support to workers who have to stay home, but do not have access to paid sick leave.

The federal government has been in talks with provinces and territories in order to get a clearer picture of where there is a gap in their resources.

How to receive E.I. Sickness Benefits

Under the new rules, Canadians who have been asked to self-isolate can apply for EI without a medical certificate, and those workers who cannot apply because they are too sick or quarantined can also file for EI Sickness Benefits at a later date and the claim backdated.

Anyone who is looking to apply for the new benefits can visit the Employment and Social Development Canada website (link below) and follow the steps listed here: https://bit.ly/2ydEeDR.

Cost and Implementation Timeline

Below is a chart that outlines the aid packages proposed by the Government of Canada to aid Canadians:

Covid-19 Economic Response Plan - Victoria BC Lawyers

Update from the Government of British Columbia

The BC Government has declared a general state of emergency in an effort to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. As for now, the state of emergency protocol will be in place for two (2) weeks, but may be renewed if the situation has not improved.

The state of emergency has given power to the provincial health officer to execute orders such as declaring quarantines, issue orders and take other measures, which can be enforced by the police.

BC Premier John Horgan has said that the Finance Ministry is working on a stimulus package to support small businesses during the pandemic, and that the province is prepared to adapt its budget to respond to market crashed and other economic impacts. Premier Horgan has not provided any other updates, but has promised a plan in the “next day or two”.

If you or a loved one require more information, please contact the Government of BC at 1-888-268-4319 (within BC) or internationally at 1-604-412-0957.

Update from the City of Victoria

The City of Victoria is planning a wide range of moves in order to assist those who are homeless, renters, businesses and taxpayers.
Mayor Lisa Helps has asked city officials to begin work on an action plan to deal with the COVID-19, including:

  • Repurposing under-used facilities/buildings for emergency purposes;
  • Emergency regulations to restrict evictions of tenants who have suffered financial loss because they had to self-isolate, go into quarantine or were laid off or suffered a loss of business or earnings;
  • Temporary deferrals of all taxes, fees and other payments owed to the city for those suffering COVID-19 hardships and waiving.

Municipal officials have also been told to prepare bylaw amendments to allow for temporary waivers of penalties for late payments of utility fees and taxes while the emergency continues.

**This information has been derived from the Baker Donelson website and prepared by Infinity Law**

Please check with any and all relevant professionals on the above advice before reliance.

Yours truly,
Infinity Law

COVID-19 UPDATEMarch 18, 2020

**The following information has been gathered from the Government of Canada website.**

Temporary Income Support for Workers & 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 will be 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 quality for EI sickness benefits.

Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school 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 will 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:

  • by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
  • by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
  • 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 WorkSharing 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.

Helping Businesses Keep their Workers

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months.

  • The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
  • Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration.
  • Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

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 theDomestic 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.

Financial Grants / Concessions (Medical or Travel Expenses)

An emergency loan system set up by Global Affairs Canada will provide up to $5,000 to Canadian citizens or permanent residents abroad who are seeking to come home or to help cover costs should they have to wait to get back.

Income Tax Relief

The Government has extended the tax deadline to June 1st, 2020 from April 30th, 2020 (note the USA has much longer extension times if requested). Furthermore:

  • The deadline to pay off any taxes that are owing has moved 3 months later – July 31st rather than April 30th. Subsequently, no interest and no penalties for current year taxes will be charged.
  • Businesses also have until July 31st to make tax instalment or final payments that would otherwise be due from March 16th onwards. In other words, if your company has a March 31st tax payment or instalment due – it is deferred until July 31st.
  • GST and payroll taxes are not given any special deferral.

Please note, the same measures are in Quebec should your business be conducted partially in Quebec.

Mortgage & Housing

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers are going to 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 "Big 6"

Canada's big six banks (RBC, TD, BMO, Scotiabank, CIBC and National Bank) have also released a joint statement that they will also allow for mortgage payment deferrals for up to six months. There has yet to be any clarification as to whether or not interest would accrue during this time. This option for deferral is set to be reviewed on a case-by-case basis and is not applicable to all homeowners. They have also announced other opportunity for relief on other credit products, but again, these would be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. If you are concerned about loan obligations, we suggest reaching out to your financial institution to see what can be done given your individual circumstance.

  • Federal student loans will see a six-month deferral on all payments and interest.
  • For retirees, minimum RRIF withdrawals will reduce by 25% for 2020.
  • GST tax credit for low-income Canadians will see an increased payment amount of $400, while couples will be eligible for $600. As with recipients of CCB, we recommend those receiving GST credits to file taxes as normal.

Canada Child Benefit

Parents will receive a $300 Canada Child Benefit (CCB) top-up per child. The CRA encourages individuals who expect to receive Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their personal return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.

Government of British Columbia Economic Response Plan

Information specific to British Columbia has yet to be released by the Government. Finance Minister Carole James has stated that details will be released in the coming days.

Premier Horgan revealed that BC will be amending its Employment Standards Act to prevent layoffs of employees who are forced to stay home from work due to COVID-19.

**This information has been derived from the Canadian Government website and prepared by both Infinity Law & Norgaard Kratofil Professional Group (NKPG). This information has been compiled from the Canadian Government and other sources thought to be reliable**

Please check with any and all relevant professionals on the above advice before reliance.

If you require more information, please visit the Canadian Government website:

Yours truly,
Infinity Law 

The following information has been gathered and prepared by Derrold Norgaard of Norgaard Kratofil Professional Group.

______________________________________________

Norgaard Kratofil Professional Group | Covid-19 Legal Updates

Updated April 1, 2020

 

INCOME TAX AND ECONOMIC POLICIES UPDATES FOR 2020

We are not going to tell you all the details relating to the medical issues of Covid-19, or what steps the BC Ministry of Health is currently recommending – we will leave that for the experts.

No matter what is happening, all businesses and individuals are impacted. We are going to simply outline the key points of the many different announcements over the last few days, relating to the financial stimulus to be granted to your small businesses, and to you and your family to help you through this time.

Remember if you are sick,call 811 or follow the guidance of your provincial health authorities. Our staff wish you and your family all the best during these difficult days.

HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES

The Federal and BC Governments are helping small business employers in a number of manners, such as wage subsidies, interest rate reductions on mortgages, and a business loan fund, and special EI changes.

Wage Subsidy Program

·        The Federal government announced additional details on the wage subsidy program today.

Eligible Employers:

·        This will be available for businesses of all sizes, non-profits, and charities who have experienced a drop in revenue of at least 30%, with no cap in the number of employees.

How Eligibility Is Calculated

·        Revenue under this program will be calculated using the employer’s revenue from its business carried on in Canada from arm’s length sources. Revenues from extraordinary items and amounts on the account of capital should be excluded. An employer’s normal accounting method should beused.

·        Eligibility would generally be determined by the change in an eligible employer’s monthly revenues, year-over-year, for the calendar month in which the period began.

·        For eligible employers established after February 2019, eligibility would be determined by comparing monthly revenues to a reasonable benchmark.

Eligible Period

Eligible Remuneration

·        Eligible remuneration may include salary, wages, and other remuneration. These are amounts for which employers would generally be required to withhold or deduct amounts to remit to the Receiver General on account of the employee’s income tax obligation.However, it does not include severance pay, or items such as stock option benefits or the personal use of a corporate vehicle.

·        A special rule will apply to employees that do not deal at arm’s length with the employer.The subsidy amount for such employees will be limited to the eligible remuneration paid in any pay period between March 15 and June 6, 2020, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75 per cent of the employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration.

Amount of Subsidy

·        The subsidy amount for a given employee on eligible remuneration paid between March 15 and June 6, 2020 would be the greater of:

1.       75 per cent of the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week; and

2.       the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75 per cent of the employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration, which ever is less

·        These employers would be expected where possible to maintain existing employees’ pre-crisis employment earnings. Employers must make their best effort to top-up employees’ salaries to bring them to pre-crisis levels.

·        Employers will also be eligible for a subsidy of up to 75 per cent of salaries and wages paid to new employees.

·        There would be no overall limit on the subsidy amount that an eligible employer may claim.

How to Apply

·        Applications will be made through CRA’s My Business Account,as well as a web-based application.

Compliance

·        Employers would have to keep records demonstrating their reduction in arm’s-length revenues and remuneration paid to employees.

·        Penalties may apply,including fines or imprisonment, in cases of fraudulent claims. In addition,anti‑abuse rules will be proposed to ensure that the subsidy is not inappropriately obtained and to ensure that employees are paid the amounts they are owed.

Interaction with 10 per cent Wage Subsidy

·        For employers that are eligible for both the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the 10 per cent wage subsidy for a period, any benefit from the 10 per cent wage subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period would generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy in that same period.

Interaction with the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit

·        An employer would not be eligible to claim the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for remuneration paid to an employee in a week that falls within a 4-week period for which the employee is eligible for the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit.

·        Employers who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy would still be able to furlough employees who will receive up to $2,000 a month.

Wage Subsidy Program

·        Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

o  The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

o  The credit is received by way of a reduction in payroll remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration.

EI Change

·        Many companies are faced with the sudden and difficult decision to lay off staff at this time. If you are such an employer, you may want to consider consulting with an employment lawyer prior to making lay-off decisions.It is our understanding that in BC, there is limited ability to temporarily layoff employees.

·        The one-week waiting period for EI for those in quarantine has been waived. It appears that this only applies to quarantine situations. An employer must still file an ROE to be eligible.

Canada Emergency Business Account

·        Loans up to $40,000 will be provided to small and medium business that will be interest free for one year. $10,000 of the loan may be forgivable.

·        To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.

·        Further details should be announced by the third week of April.

Updated March 26, 2020

INCOME TAX AND ECONOMIC POLICIES UPDATES FOR 2020

We are not going to tell you all the details relating to the medical issues of Covid-19, or what steps the BC Ministry of Health is currently recommending – we will leave that for the experts.

No matter what is happening, all businesses and individuals are impacted. We are going to simply outline the key points of the many different announcements over the last few days, relating to the financial stimulus to be granted to your small businesses, and to you and your family to help you through this time.

Remember if you are sick, call 811 or follow the guidance of your provincial health authorities. Our staff wish you and your family all the best during these difficult days.

HELPING SMALL BUSINESSES

The Federal and BC Governments are helping small business employers in a number of manners, such as wage subsidies, interest rate reductions on mortgages, and a business loan fund, and special E.I. changes.

Wage Subsidy Program

  • To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months.
  • Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.
  • The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
  • Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration.

Work-Sharing Program

Work-Sharing is a new Employment Insurance (EI) program that helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer. The program provides EI benefits to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work while their employer recovers.

 E.I. Change

  • Many companies are faced with the sudden and difficult decision to lay off staff at this time. If you are such an employer, you may want to consider consulting with an employment lawyer prior to making lay-off decisions. It is our understanding that in BC, there is limited ability to temporarily lay off employees.
  • The one-week waiting period for EI for those in quarantine has been waived. It appears that this only applies to quarantine situations. An employer must still file an ROE to be eligible.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

  • 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.
  • 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 Canada Account – Loans, Guarantees or Insurance

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.

Farmers

The near-term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.

Interest Rates

The Bank of Canada “overnight” rate has been lowered to 0.75%. Expect bank interest and mortgage (and savings) rates to go lower as a result.

Provincial Updates (New)

  • The scheduled April 1 increase to provincial carbon taxes, and registration requirements on e-commerce and carbonated drinks will be delayed, subject to at timing review by September 30, 2020.
  • BC business and commercial properties will also have their property tax rate cut in half for 2020.

HELPING INDIVIDUALS AND FAMILIES

Reduced interest rates on mortgages, deferring some mortgage and loan payments, easier access to prescriptions, and delayed dates for paying (and filing taxes) are meant to help all individuals.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (“CERB”) collapses the two previously announced programs, the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit, into one.

  • It will be available to wage earners, contract workers and self-employed people who don't qualify for employment insurance (EI).
  • 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.
  • Up to 16 weeks of income support will be offered to those who lost their jobs, got sick, are under quarantine or have to stay home because of school closures.
  • The application process is scheduled to open in early April, with individual income support payments amounting to about $2,000 a month expected to flow about 10 days later.
  • Payments will be issued every four weeks, and will be available from March 15, 2020 to Oct. 3, 2020.
  • Those already receiving employment insurance (EI) regular benefits and sickness benefits will, as of March 25, continue to receive those benefits and should not apply to the CERB.
  • You will need to apply for the above benefits. Application Options:
  1. CRAMyAccount secure portal;
  2. MyService Canada Account; or
  3. Calling a toll-free number equipped with an automated application process.

BC Hardship Assistance – Awaiting EI Benefits

  • BC has a Hardship Assistance program designed to meet essential needs of applications for income assistance who meet all other conditions of eligibility, except they are waiting for EI. Hardship assistance is provided on a temporary basis, for only one month at a time at this time. Eligibility for hardship assistance must be re-established each month.
  • To qualify for this category of hardship, applicants must apply for EI benefits with from the federal government and sign an EI Assignment of Benefit.
  • More information can be found on the BC Government Website – https://bit.ly/3anNTpy

Mortgage and Rent Relief

  • 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.
  • 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 possibly some other loans or credit products.
  • The British Columbia government is introducing a new temporary rental supplement through BC Housing and halting evictions. The new rental supplement will help households by offering up to $500 a month towards their rent, which will be paid directly to the landlords to those who do not already qualify for existing rental assistance programs. The province still has details to work out including how it will distribute money to rental properties where multiple people live. 
  • B.C.government is also applying a rent freeze effective April 1.

Utilities and Insurance Relief

BC has announced that it will allow deferments on BC Hydro and ICBC payments.People are urged to call BC Hydro and ICBC and set up payment plans or deferrals. No eligibility criteria have been announced.

GST and Other Credits

  • One-time special payment of GST credits is expected by early May 2020, which will double the maximum annual GST payments. This will boost the payments by close to $400 for eligible individuals and $600 for eligible couples.
  • A one-time $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose employment is affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This is intended for people who have been laid off, quarantined, sick, or taking care of a child or sick relative – whether they are eligible for EI or not. This is expected to be available in May.
  • BC is increasing and expanding the B.C. Climate Action Tax Credit in July 2020. If you have family income that was already over $ 41,000 you and your family are likely not getting any or much of this in any event. Eligible families of four will receive up to $564 and eligible individuals will receive up to $218 in an enhanced payment.

Retirees

  • Minimum RRIF withdrawals are reduced by 25% for 2020.
  • An emergency loan system set up by Global Affairs Canada will provide up to $5,000 to Canadian citizens or permanent residents abroad who are seeking to come home or to help cover costs should they have to wait to get back.
  • The College of Pharmacists of B.C. says (most) prescriptions can be renewed without having to go to the doctor office first.

HELPING PARENTS/STUDENTS

  • Interest on student loans will be suspended for a six-month period.
  • Payment of provincial student loans will be paused until September 30, 2020.
  • Canada Child Benefits (CBD) will increase amounts for this year by $300 per child.This is expected to commence in May 2020.

TAX FILING AND PAYMENT EXTENSIONS

New Deadlines
  • Personal Tax Returns from April 30th to June 1, 2020.
  • Trust returns with a December 31, 2019 year end – May 1, 2020.
  • PST filing, municipal and regional district taxes, tobacco tax – September 30, 2020.

We encourage those who expect to receive a refund, or who receive GST credits, or child benefit payments, not to delay in filing their personal tax returns to receive their refunds or payments earlier.

Payments Extensions

  • Per Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: “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 (March 18, 2020) and before September 2020.” No interest and penalties will accumulate on these amounts owing.
  • This relief would apply to most Federal tax balances due, as well as instalments. However, certain taxes, such as on investment income, may not have this deferral.
  • BC has announced that employer health tax payments will be deferred until September 30, 2020.
  • PST, municipal and regional district tax, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax and carbon tax payments deferred until Sept. 30, 2020.

We hope you find this helpful. Please feel free to contact either of our offices if you have any questions.

NKPG Burnaby Office
t: 236.521.6155
f: 778.265.6155
e: darren@nkpg.ca
a: 100-4190 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby,BC V5C                     

NKPG Victoria Office
t: 250.598.6998
f: 778.265.6155
e: assistant@nkpg.ca
a: 202-4400 Chatterton Way, Victoria,BC V8X

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200 - 931 Fort St, Victoria, BC V8V 3K3
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102 - 4535 Uplands Dr, Nanaimo, BC V9T 6M8
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