Government Supports for Canadian Businesses During the COVID-19 Pandemic
In recent weeks, we have seen the significant economic impact of COVID-19, globally and locally. To help prevent transmission of the coronavirus, many businesses were forced to close or limit their operations, leading to financial and job losses. These are challenging times for businesses of all sizes and both tenants and landlords. In response, the Canadian government has introduced financial supports to businesses in hopes of putting the economy in a better position to recover from this. If you are worried about operating costs, rent, and wages during this time, here are some of the ways the government has promised to help.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
This is the largest measure announced by the federal government. The program was initially aimed at helping small businesses but COVID-19 has affected all companies of all sizes. On March 30, the government announced any business that has suffered a 30% drop in revenue as a result of COVID-19 will be eligible, including non-profits and charities. The subsidy will cover up to 75% of an employee’s salary on the first $58,700 in earnings (up to $847 a week). It will be retroactive to March 15 and end June 6, 2020, with funds available in about six weeks from now. The government hopes this will help businesses rehire laid-off workers and help prevent further layoffs.
Canada Emergency Business Account
This program allows financial institutions to offer interest-free loans in the form of lines of credit of up to $40,000, guaranteed by the federal government, to small businesses and non-profits. The loans are interest-free for the first year and if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022, 25% of the loan (up to $10,000) is eligible for complete forgiveness. These loans will ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to cover operating costs while revenues have been reduced due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19.
New Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium Enterprises
The Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada, will help small and medium-sized companies meet their operational cash flow requirements. EDC will provide guarantees to financial institutions so that they can issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized businesses. The loans will be 80% guaranteed by EDC and to be repaid within one year.
Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises
Small and medium-sized businesses can also get support through a new Co-Lending Program that will bring the Business Development Bank of Canada together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to these businesses for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.
The government is allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all GST and 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, so they have cash-flow for immediate needs such as bills and wages.
The Bank of Canada also took a series of actions to support the Canadian economy. This included making two emergency cuts to its key interest rate as a proactive measure; it is currently at 0.25%. The Bank of Canada said lowering rates cushions the impact of the shocks to the economy by easing the cost of borrowing. This should help keep credit available to people and companies and lay the foundation for the economy’s return to normalcy.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy eligibility criteria has been updated. To qualify, businesses need to show their revenue has decreased by 15% in March 2020 and 30% in the following months. The Government also expanded the CEWS by introducing a 100% refund for certain employer-paid contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan. Businesses will be able to apply starting on Monday, April 27.
The Canada Emergency Business Account was expanded on April 16. Businesses that had a total payroll spend in 2019 of $20,000 to $1.5 million will be eligible; the previous requirements were $50,000 to $1 million.
Sources: Government of Canada, Bank of Canada, Expert Development Canada, Business Development Bank of Canada