COVID-19 Resources

COVID-19 Financial Relief

Update: March 20, 2020

Government of Canada’s website for Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses:
https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html

During the economic changes which have been a result of the COVID-19 pandemic the Canadian Government has recently provided economic support and has proposed spending of $82 billion dollars to Canadian citizens and businesses. Through this website, we will attempt to keep our clients up to date with these initiatives. Only as time passes, will we understand some of the nuances of these initiatives, so if you have questions, please call 604-983-9202 and speak to one of our CPAs.

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Highlights

EFILE Signatures: In order to reduce the necessity for taxpayers and tax preparers to meet in person, effective immediately the CRA 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.

For Businesses:

Federal Government Support for Small Business

The federal 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 the remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will 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.

Liaison Officer Service

The Liaison Officer service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.

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.

Ensuring Business 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 into the economy.

The Bank of Canada cut 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.

For Canadian Individuals:

Filing Season Deadline Extensions – Individual & Trust

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.
Support for Families

TThe federal government will also be topping up GST payments and Canada Child Benefit payments.

  • A one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) will be made. This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts and result in an average boost to income for those benefiting by close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
  • The maximum annual Canada Child Benefit payment amounts would be increased by $300 per child for the 2019-20 benefit year. This will be added to the May 2020 benefit cheque.

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.

The Canadian government will be implementing changes to 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.

An Emergency Support Benefit will provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. The individual amounts and process will be disclosed shortly.

Many large Canadian banks are offering a six-month mortgage deferral and other forms of debt relief. Contact your financial institution for more information.
Minimum RRIF Withdrawals: The required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) will be reduced by 25% for 2020. Similar rules would apply to individuals receiving variable benefit payments under a defined contribution Registered Pension Plan.

For Canadians who do not have paid sick leave or qualify for Employment Insurance

These benefits include an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks which will be available to Canadians, including those who are self-employed without paid sick leave, who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children or are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID19. This benefit will become available in April 2020.

For those who have lost a job or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact, the federal government will be providing an Emergency Support Benefit to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for Employment Insurance or paid sick leave.

The federal government has also announced an automatic waiving of the 1-week delay for EI benefits for sick leave. The government will also waive the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.

Canadians Abroad

The Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad will provide the option of an emergency loan to Canadians in need of immediate financial assistance to return home or to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return. Each application will be assessed according to their specific situation and needs. This emergency assistance is a repayable loan. Eligible Canadians currently outside Canada and needing help to return home can contact the nearest Government of Canada office (https://travel.gc.ca/assistance/embassies-consulates) or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email sos@international.gc.ca.

For Students and Student Loan Debtors

The federal government is proposing placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans for all individuals in the process of repaying these loans.

Find complete information on direct supports and how to qualify at: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html

Indigenous Community

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

Homelessness

The Reaching Home initiative will be provided 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.

Domestic Abuse Shelters

Women’s shelters and sexual assault centers will receive $50 million to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.