Daily COVID-19 Update: April 1, 2020
Supports for Business
Additional Details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Additional details for the proposed Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy were announced today to encourage employers to re-hire workers previously laid off. The program includes individuals, taxable corporations, partnerships, not for profit organizations and registered charities. Public bodies would not be eligible for this subsidy, including municipalities, crown corporations, universities, colleges, schools and hospitals. The Government would apply a rate of 75% on 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 who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy and would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities. The Government is trying to get administrative details out as rapidly as possible and are still looking at criteria for businesses who have just started in the past year, perhaps looking at month over month revenue, but more details are yet to be announced.
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 future on those efforts with some measures such as support for Kids Help Phone, United Way and Women’s Shelters already announced.
An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is a key measure to ensure that workers are able to count on a source of income through this difficult time. It will enable employers to re-hire workers previously laid off, and to keep those who are already on payroll, so that Canada’s workforce and supply chains are able to return from this crisis in a strong position.
Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. The portal is expected to be made available within the next three weeks with payments taking up to three weeks after application.
The Government is urging all employers to sign on for direct deposit, as there are only about 50% of businesses currently on direct deposit with Revenue Canada right now. By doing so it will allow businesses to get money that much more quickly with deposits made to the business owner’s account
The Government did emphasize that there will be consequences for those that attempt to abuse the program with harsh penalties. The costing of the Canada Emergency Wage subsidy is estimated to be $71 billion and is meant to reduce the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
Temporary Wage Subsidy Available
Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may qualify for the previously announced temporary wage subsidy of 10% of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20. This is up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer, which is applied through a reduction in remittances to Government.
The Temporary Wage Subsidy is a three-month measure to allow eligible employers to reduce their payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency. The 10% subsidy is not based on revenue decreases and is just done through decreasing your remittances to the federal Government.
Individuals, partnerships, non-profit organizations, registered charities, and Canadian-controlled private corporations (including a cooperative corporation) eligible for the small business deduction are all eligible. Businesses must have an existing business number and payroll program account with the CRA on March 18, 2020 and pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration to an eligible employee. Partnerships are only eligible for the subsidy if their members consist exclusively of individuals (excluding trusts), registered charities, or Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs) eligible for the small business deduction.
The subsidy must be calculated manually, as the CRA will not automatically calculate the allowable subsidy. You must still continue deducting income tax, CPP and EI contributions and then the subsidy is calculated based on the remittance amount to CRA - you cannot reduce your remittance of CPP or EI premiums. Businesses can start reducing payroll remittances on the first remittance period that includes remuneration paid from March 18 to June 19, 2020. The subsidy is considered taxable income.
Businesses, including self-employed individuals, can defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports, in addition to deferring the payment of income taxes until August 31, 2020.
Businesses can access the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses, including not-for-profits and provide access to capital at a zero percent interest rate.
Businesses can access the Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements.
Businesses can apply for the Work-Sharing program in order to help avoid layoffs where 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. A work share unit must reduce its hours of work by at least 10% to 60% and the agreement must be at least 6 consecutive weeks long and can last up to 26 consecutive weeks. Employers may be able to extend these agreements up to a total of 76 weeks
Agriculture producers and Agri-food sectors can access increased credit through Farm Credit Canada.
Supports for Individuals
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will be open for applications on April 6 at canada.ca/coronavirus and provides temporary emergency income support to workers who have stopped working and are without employment or self-employment income for reasons related to COVID-19. You can’t collect both the Canadian Emergency Response Benefit and Wage Subsidies from your employer, it’s one or the other. The CERB will be available to workers:
- residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
- who have stopped working because of COVID-19;
- who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.
The Benefit is also available to workers who, after March 15, are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits. The income of at least $5,000 may be from any or a combination of the following sources: employment; self-employment; maternity and parental benefits under the Employment Insurance program. The Benefit is only available to individuals who stopped work as a result of reasons related to COVID-19.
Canadians who would generally be eligible for EI benefits will be directed to apply for the CERB through Service Canada through Appliweb. Canadians who would generally not be eligible for EI benefits will be directed to apply for the CERB through the CRA’s MyAccount or CRA’s automated toll-free line at 1-800-959-2019, which is a dedicated line for CERB applications.
The CERB will be paid in blocks of four weeks in the amount of $2,000, which is equivalent to $500 per week. If an individual’s situation continues, they can re-apply for a payment for multiple 4-week periods, to a maximum of 16 weeks (4 periods). Canadians can get ready to apply for the CERB by signing up to My Account or My Service Canada Account. They should also make sure their direct deposit and mailing information is up to date with the CRA.The benefit is available from March 15, 2020, to October 3, 2020 and you can apply no later than December 2, 2020. Once the application process opens on April 6, Canadians can expect to receive payments within three to five business days through direct deposit or within 10 business days by cheque.
When applications open on April 6th they will use these guidelines for processing:
- If you were born in the month of January, February or March apply for the CERB on Mondays with your best day to apply on April 6th
- If you were born in the months of April, May, or June apply for the CERB on Tuesdays with your best day to apply on April 7
- If you were born in July, August, or September apply for the CERB on Wednesdays with your best day to apply on April 8
- If you were born in October, November, or December apply for the CERB on Thursdays with your best day to apply on April 9
- Outside of these above guidelines persons with birthdays in any month should apply on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Find information on how and when to apply here: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/apply-for-cerb-with-cra.html
Child Care Centres Expanded for all Essential Workers
The provincial government announced today that it is expanding eligibility for select licensed child care centres to provide child care for all essential service workers. In addition to the previously eligible front-line health-care workers, critical infrastructure workers and first responders, child care is now available to anyone who works in the critical areas outlined as essential by the government. A full list of those essential service positions can be found here. Parents who work in these areas can contact the child care centres that are open in their communities. A list of these centres can be found at here and updates will be provided as new centres become available here: alberta.ca/COVID19 (under Info for Albertans).
The centres will be limited to 30 people, including staff, and will have to adhere to strict sanitization practices based on specific instructions from Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's chief medical officer of health.
Parents who qualify for subsidy will receive it and centres will charge their typical rate, within reason. Per direction from Dr. Hinshaw, parents who are eligible should only access this child care if it is the only way they will be able to go to their work in a core service sector.
As this process involves uncertainty for child care programs, child care centres will be financially compensated for reopened spaces that are not filled. They will also receive up to $500 for the purchase of cleaning supplies.
All other licensed child care centres are to remain closed. Approved family day homes may remain open but limited to six children, not including the operators’ own children.
Community Supports and Resources
Provincial meat inspectors to strengthen food supply
To ensure the continuous operation of Alberta’s food supply chain, the provincial government is partnering with the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) to increase food inspector capacity. Training will begin soon, which will allow provincial meat inspectors to be deployed into high-priority federally licensed plants in Alberta as demand for more food inspectors increases. As a result of COVID-19, the food processing industry is experiencing increased demand. These redeployments will ensure the continued capability to provide meat inspections in the province and keep food products on shelves. In addition, steps have been taken to increase provincial inspector capacity by bringing back retired inspectors.
Reducing backlog of lab tests
This week, Alberta has seen an upswing in the number of people testing positive for COVID-19. This is because laboratories are quickly dealing with a testing backlog, caused by a delayed shipment over the weekend of reagent, a chemical used in the tests. The reagent arrived Monday, allowing laboratory technologists to test more samples and confirm more cases. The government has conducted more than 4,500 tests in the last 24 hours. Of these, about 98 percent came back negative, an indicator in line with previous days. A total of 53,141 people have been tested for COVID-19.
Update on special event licences
As a result of the limitation of mass gatherings to a maximum of 15 people, AGLC has temporarily suspended the special event licensing application process on its website. People who had planned to host private events and had already purchased special event licences may apply for refunds by emailing email@example.com or visiting aglc.ca for more information.
Canadian Chamber Letter Regarding Medical Cannabis
Alongside the Cannabis Council of Canada, Alberta Cannabis Council and Association québécoise de l’industrie du cannabis, the Canadian Chamber National Cannabis Working Group wrote to Ministers Hajdu and Anand asking for medical cannabis supply chains to be designated an essential service. It is critical that COVID-19 impacts do not interrupt hundreds of thousands of Canadians from accessing medical cannabis treatment. Read the letter.
Alberta’s economic outlook
ATB’s Chief Economist, Todd Hirsch, will provide commentary on the state of the Alberta economy and the bright spots that lie ahead.
Thursday, April 2, 2020, 11:00 am MST. Register here.
Business Continuity in Manufacturing and Operations
Cheryl Hacking, Standens and Brad Field, BRC Group will speak to business continuity in the manufacturing sector and discuss how these industries can support the COVID efforts.
Friday, April 3, 2020, 11:00 am MST. Register here.
Operating Construction Worksites During COVID-19
Last week, in an ongoing effort to fight COVID-19, the Government of Alberta announced that all non-essential services must close. At this time, this does not include construction (including residential) as it has been identified as an essential service. As projects continue to move forward, it is important to remember that this could change at any time. For the latest information refer to government resources. During this unprecedented time, it is critical that safe work procedures are communicated and enforced to help protect employees and prevent the spread of COVID-19. BILD Alberta has compiled a document highlighting practices and procedures to use on every jobsite, regardless of scale. The tips and best practices are based on information provided by public health authorities, member companies and other associations: Tips for Operating Worksites During COVID-19.
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'Your present circumstances don’t determine where you can go, they merely determine where you start'. - Nido Qubein
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