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updates on COVID 19

Guides and Services

Frequently Asked Questions

Is there any relief period for the interest and penalties when remitting provincial taxes?

Relief Period: The deadline for Tax filing and remittance will remain the same. However, beginning April 1, 2020, penalties and interest will not apply to Ontario businesses that miss any filing or remittance deadline for a period of five months in any of the following Taxes: Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax, Fuel Tax, Gas Tax, Beer, Wine & Spirits Tax, Mining Tax, Insurance Premium Tax, International Fuel Tax Agreement, Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts and Benefit Plans, Race Tracks Tax.
Automatic Relief: If a business is unable to file their return or remittance during the relief period, they do not need to contact or notify the Ministry of Finance. Penalties and interest will be waived automatically for all late returns or remittances by Ontario businesses during the relief period.
Filing Late Return or Remittance: Ontario businesses are also not required to provide the Ministry of Finance with information about the impact of COVID-19 on their staff or daily operations during the relief period.
What’s not included: The relief period does not include business accounts with outstanding taxes, interest or penalties owing to the government from previous filing periods. Existing debts from before the relief period will continue to accrue interest.

For more information: https://budget.ontario.ca/2020/marchupdate/relief-measures.html

Do businesses have relief or flexibility in paying their bills and taxes?

Water/Sewer Service and Solid Waste Management: The City is extending the due date for all utility bills issued by an additional 60 days, to give utility customers an additional 60 days to make payment to take advantage of the early payment discount.

Electricity: The Government of Ontario is providing temporary emergency relief to support Ontarians impacted by the global COVID-19 outbreak. The off-peak electricity rate (10.1¢ per kWh) implemented starting March 24, 2020, for 24 hours a day, seven days a week for households, farms, and small businesses that pay time-of-use electricity rates is extended until May 31, 2020.

In addition, Toronto Hydro has extended its current suspension of electricity disconnections for low-volume small business customers until July 31, 2020. They’re encouraging business customers to contact their Customer Care team directly at 416-542-8000 for help with billing concerns and payment options.

For more information: https://www.torontohydro.com/covid-19

Property Tax: The City will be suspending all pending automated withdrawals that have been scheduled for all City residents and businesses within the next 60-day period but not yet withdrawn.
Customers will be advised in advance of any rescheduling of revised withdrawal due dates and amounts following the 60-day grace period. The City is providing a grace period for payments and payment penalties for 60 days, starting March 16. This grace period applies to all customers. At this time the City unable to process individual requests to have pre-authorized payments or post-dated cheques processed as scheduled.

GST/HST and Custom Duty Payments: The Canadian Revenue Agency (CRA) will allow all businesses to defer, until the end of June, any GST/HST payments or remittances Opens in a new window, as well as customs duty owing on imports. This means that no interest will apply if your payments or remittances are made by the end of June.

Income Tax: The Government of Canada is allowing all businesses to defer, until after August 31, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments.

Provincial Taxes: The Government of Ontario is providing a five-month interest and penalty-free period for businesses to make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes, such as the Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax and Gas Tax.

Do businesses have flexibility in paying their WSIB payments?

The WSIB financial relief package allows businesses to defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. Businesses who report and pay monthly, quarterly or annually based on their insurable earnings are eligible for this deferral.
Each customer reports and pays on the previous full month or quarter, for example March 31 reporting and payment obligation cover the period of February 1-29. The following payments are eligible for deferral:
Monthly: March 31, April 30, May 31, June 30, July 31, Aug 31
Quarterly: April 30, July 31
Annual: April 30
No interest will accrue on outstanding premium payments for Schedule 1 businesses and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period. Schedule 2 account balances will not accrue debit interest as part of the financial relief package
For more information: https://www.wsib.ca/en/financialrelief

What financial support is available to help businesses during this pandemic?

Canada Emergency Business Account
Banks will provide interest-free loans (for the first year) of up to $40,000 to employers with between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000). Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/programs/financial-sector-policy/business-credit-availability-program.html#a1

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) supports employers that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and protect the jobs Canadians depend on. The employer may be eligible for subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 12 weeks, retroactive from March 15, 2020, to June 6, 2020.This wage subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, help prevent further job losses, and better position you to resume normal operations following the crisis.
To be eligible to receive the wage subsidy, you must:

  • be an eligible employer
  • have experienced an eligible reduction in revenue, and
  • have had a CRA payroll account on March 15, 2020

The applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will open from April 27,2020.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy/cews-how-apply.html

Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy
The Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deduction required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
You are an eligible employer if you are a(n): individual (excluding trusts), partnership, a non-profit organization, registered charity, or Canadian-controlled private corporation (including a cooperative corporation); 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.
The subsidy is equal to 10% of the remuneration you pay from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, up to $1,375 for each eligible employee to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/frequently-asked-questions-wage-subsidy-small-businesses.html#h1

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)
$675 million to give financing support to small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures, through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies.
The Fund will help to:

  • mitigate the financial pressure experienced by businesses and organizations to allow them to continue their operations, including paying their employees;
  • support projects by businesses, organizations and communities to prepare now for a successful recovery.

For more information: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/h_07682.html

Flexible Banking Solutions: Including Mortgage Deferral: Canada’s 6 largest banks have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges due to COVID-19. This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#businesses

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)
The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) will provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, to keep their operations going.
The LEEFF program will be open to large for-profit businesses – with the exception of those in the financial sector – as well as certain not-for-profit businesses, such as airports, with annual revenues generally in the order of $300 million or higher.

To qualify, eligible businesses must be seeking financing of about $60 million or more, have significant operations or workforce in Canada, and not be involved in active insolvency proceedings.The additional liquidity provided through LEEFF will allow Canada’s largest businesses, their workers and their suppliers to remain active during this difficult time, and position them for a rapid economic recovery.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#businesses

Are self-employed small business owners eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit?

Self-employed small business owners are eligible for CERB provided they meet the eligibility criteria including that they stopped working due to COVID-19 and do not earn more than $1000 in a period of at least 14 consecutive days in the first benefit period and for the entire four-week benefit period of any subsequent claim.

Small Business owners can receive income from their business in different ways, including as salary, business income or dividends.

For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/questions.html

Can someone qualify for Canada Emergency Response Benefit if they still have a small amount of income coming into their business account as a sole proprietor to pay some of their business expenses (commercial rent, utility costs, etc.) as long as they are not paying themselves any income from the business?

Yes. To be eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, you must have stopped working as a result of reasons related to COVID-19 and receive less than $1,000 in employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period for which you apply. For subsequent periods, you cannot receive more than $1,000 in employment or self-employment income for the entire four-week period.

For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application/questions.html

How can a Canadian manufacturer help and receive help during this pandemic?

If you are a Canadian manufacturer or business that can assist Canada in meeting the need for medical supplies, your help is needed, if:

  • You manufacture in Canada and/or have ready access to necessary inputs through your supply chain.
  • You have equipment or facilities that can be rapidly re-tooled to meet medical needs, including for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks and surgical gowns; sanitizers; wipes; ventilators; and other medical equipment and supplies.
  • You have skilled workers who are able to respond and who could be available for work in the current circumstances.

The Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19 directly supports businesses to rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop products made in Canada that will help in the fight against COVID-19.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/manufacturers-needed.html

NGen will invest $50 million in Supercluster funding to support companies as they rapidly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by building a Canadian supply of essential equipment, products, and therapeutics. Projects will be selected for funding according to critical needs identified by the Government of Canada and the ability of manufacturers to produce products that are safe for both patients and health care workers.
For more information: https://www.ngen.ca/covid-19-response

Is my business considered “essential”?

The Declaration of a provincial emergency has been extended and will be in effect until April 14, 2020.
List of essential workplaces in response to COVID-19: https://www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces.
Note that teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses on March 25, 2020, the government of Ontario announced that it launched a toll-free line (1-888-444-3659) to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the Ontario Order to close places of non-essential businesses or how emergency measures can impact their business or employment.
For more information: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/3/stop-the-spread-business-information-line-now-open-at-1-888-444-3659.html

Do businesses have flexibility in filing their Taxes?
  • The CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, Penalties and interest will not be charged if the deferred payment requirements are met by September 1, 2020. Penalties and interest relief will be considered on a case-by-case basis for income tax balances that are not covered by the COVID-19 relief provisions.
  • The CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until the end of June 2020, any GST/HST payments or remittances that become owing on or after March 27, 2020, and before June 2020. This means that no interest will apply if your payments or remittances are made by the end of June 2020
  • Payroll remittances – Due dates remain unchanged

For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/covid-19-filing-payment-dates.html

What kind of support is there to help businesses avoid lay-offs?

Work-Sharing (WS) is a 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. The Government is extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.
For more information and how to apply: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html

The new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) provides a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020. The CEWS prevents further job losses, encourages employers to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, and help better position Canadian companies and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis.
For more information and how to apply: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/wage-subsidy.html

What are some of the options that I should consider when planning for the immediate financial impact of the pandemic to your business.
  • Review and understand your business interruption insurance.
  • Audit payable and receivable transactions to help plan your cashflow.
  • Look at limiting your monthly expenses to the essentials until such time as business picks up again.
  • Investigate possible sources or credit or financing to help with cash flow during this period.
  • Understand what support has been offered to businesses by the federal or provincial governments. (e.g. Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP))
What should I consider when creating a plan to mitigate some of the impact of the pandemic to my business?
  • What protective and preventative equipment and tools do you need to put in place to prevent the spread of infection?
  • How and how often are you communicating with employees, customers and suppliers?
  • How are you monitoring and managing employee fear, anxiety, rumors and misinformation?
  • Do you have platforms (e.g. hotlines, website etc.) in place for communicating pandemic status and actions to employees, vendors, customers, etc. and responding to their questions?
  • Are there guidelines and practices you can modify or put in place to curtail direct contact with the public if necessary?
  • Do you have a policy in place for flexible worksites and work hours?
  • Do you have a policy in place for employees who may, or think they may have been exposed to the virus?
How do I identify the potential impact of the pandemic to my business?
  • What is the risk of the pandemic to your employees, partners, suppliers and customers?
  • What is the decision-making process related to the pandemic and the execution of the business continuity plan?
  • Who are your most essential employees and what are the other critical inputs (e.g. raw materials, suppliers, subcontractor services/products, and logistics) required to maintain business operations by location and function during a pandemic?
  • How are you planning for significant staff absences?
  • Do you have the tools and technology in place to enable staff to work remotely?
  • If you were forced to close your doors for two weeks or more, do you have access to a line of credit that will cover ongoing expenses until you can reopen, and your cash flow resumes?
  • What is your plan for scenarios that are likely to result in an increase or decrease in demand for your products and/or services during a pandemic?
  • Is your emergency communications plan up to date and are key roles and responsibilities outlined and communicated? This plan should include identification of key contacts (with back-ups), a chain of communications (including suppliers and customers), and processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status.
What things should I consider when developing a business continuity plan for my business?
  • What is the process for decision-making during times of crisis?
  • What are the critical services, positions and skills required to keep your business running?
  • How and when are you communicating to internal and external stakeholders and managing the flow of information?
  • What is your plan for recovery?
As a business what are some of the things, I should plan for should COVID-19 escalate in Canada?
  • Staff absences due to a number of reasons (personal illness, ill family members, looking after children due to school closures, feeling of safety being at home etc.)
  • Disruption to essential services like information, telecommunications, financial services, energy supply, and logistics
  • Demand for business services may be affected – demand for some services may increase (e.g. internet access, anything health-related), while demand for others may fall (e.g. tourism, cultural events, marketing and promotion).
  • Supplies of materials needed for ongoing business activity may be disrupted. Further problems can be expected if goods are imported by air or land over international borders.
  • The increased public fear that causes citizens to avoid public places, including front line retail and tourist-related attractions, restaurants and leisure businesses.
My employee is invoking their “right to refuse” unsafe work – what do I do?

Under Occupational Health and Safety legislation, employees have a right to refuse work if they have reasonable grounds to believe it is dangerous to their health or safety. Remind your employees of the preventive measures that have been put in place, and the safety products available to them. This may help mitigate instances of employees refusing to work due to the coronavirus outbreak.

The employer may choose to reassign work. In this case, the employee must receive the same wages and benefits as they would have received under their previous assignment.

Please review the OH&S legislation in your jurisdiction for guidance on further reporting responsibilities.

Do I need a coronavirus sick policy?

Having a small business sick policy or attendance policy is a good business sense at all times, not just when there is a pandemic. Letting employees know exactly what they are entitled to, based on Employment Standards requirements and your own internal policies, will set expectations and reduce confusion and frustration. Company policy may become invalid if national policy and guidelines change. It is important to keep abreast of developments to ensure compliance with national policy during the pandemic.

Am I obligated to put preventive measures in place?

Occupational Health and Safety requires employers to provide a safe workplace for their employees. Some preventive measures could include:

  • Ensuring that handwashing facilities are readily available and encouraging employees to practice good hygiene.
  • Ensuring employees are aware of the symptoms and risks of the virus.
  • Posting safety measures and encouraging employees to follow them to help prevent a person to person transmission.
  • Permitting employees to work remotely where possible. Communicate this to employees, so they will feel comfortable working from home if they are feeling under the weather.
  • Having safety products available (hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, gloves, etc.).
  • Paying additional attention to cleaning – disinfecting door handles, computer keyboards, telephones, etc.
What are the obligations of my employees?

Employees must take the necessary steps to protect their own health and well-being and that of their co-workers. Employees must comply with any preventive measures put in place by the employer (use of personal protective equipment, hygiene requirements, etc.), and they must report hazards to their employers. The possibility they may have been infected with COVID-19 is a hazard that must be reported to the employer. It is also important that employees follow any guidelines suggested by Health Canada.

What are the payment deferral options available for businesses?

Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance (GST & HST): The Federal Government will be deferring the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) remittances and customs duty payments to June 30, 2020.
Monthly filers have to remit amounts collected for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods;
Quarterly filers have to remit amounts collected for January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period; and
Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalment are due in March, April or May 2020, have to remit amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/additional-support-for-canadian-businesses-from-the-economic-impact-of-covid-19.html

Small Business Tax Deferral: The CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 19, 2020 and before September 2020.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html#Support_for_Businesses

FedDev Ontario Repayment Deferral: This deferral takes effect on April 1, 2020, and will relieve some of the pressure your business is facing. FedDev Ontario will work with you to formalize these deferrals into an amended repayment schedule and outline other measures that may help your business. Tourism operators, small- or medium-sized businesses and organizations that have received FedDev Ontario funding in the past, may be eligible to receive additional funding and/or flexible arrangements. FedDev Ontario is also offering access to federal funding to help businesses impacted by the sudden shift in the economy and who require pressing assistance.
For more information: https://www.feddevontario.gc.ca/eic/site/723.nsf/eng/h_02567.html?OpenDocument

What are the loans available for small and medium enterprises?

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP-BDC): The program provides term loans for the operational and liquidity needs of businesses, which could include interest payments on existing debt. The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is expanded to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million.
For more information: https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/special-support.aspx?special-initiative=covid19

BDC Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises: This program provides term loans for operational and liquidity needs of businesses, which could include interest payments on existing debt. Similar to the EDC program, this program is available to businesses that were financially viable and revenue-generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/programs/financial-sector-policy/business-credit-availability-program.html

EDC Loan Guarantees: Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) can apply through their financial institutions to get operating credit and cash flow term loans up to $6.25 million, which will be guaranteed by the Export Development Canada (EDC). The program cap for this new loan program will be a total of $20 billion for the export sector and domestic companies.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/additional-support-for-canadian-businesses-from-the-economic-impact-of-covid-19.html

Do I need to file the ROE when laying off employees?

When laying off employees you will be required to file a Record Of Employment (ROE). An ROE must be filed whenever there is a change in the status of an employee including when a business is forced to close by the government.

Once the ROE is filed your employees will be able to apply for regular Employment Insurance benefits. In many jurisdictions, there is an exemption from giving or paying notice when a business needs to close due to unforeseen circumstances. We have requested clarification from provincial and territorial governments on this.

How do I complete the ROE?

An ROE has to be filed when there is an interruption of earnings of seven days (known as the seven-day rule). The interruption of earnings occurs when there are seven consecutive days with no work and no insurable earnings, or when an employee’s salary falls below 60% of regular weekly earnings due to illness, injury, quarantine, pregnancy, etc.

If you are filing the ROE electronically, it must be issued within 5 calendar days of the end of the pay period in which the employee’s interruption of earnings occurs. If you are using a paper ROE, it must be issued within 5 calendar days of the employee’s interruption of earnings, or the date you became aware of the interruption of earnings.

How do I complete my employee’s ROE?

1. Through ROEweb either by using a: Select Sign-In Partner; or GCKey
2. Calling Service Canada 1-800-622-6232 for a Paper ROE (unavailable at the moment)

For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/programs/ei/ei-list/reports/roe-guide/instructions.html

ROEweb is freezing and not working—What should I do?
  • Provide a copy of the employee’s pay stub or a copy of the “to-be-filed” ROE to the employee.
  • File the ROE when possible on ROEweb

CFIB is raising this issue with the government. In the meantime, the fastest way for an employer to submit their ROEs is still online through ROEweb. Although paper ROEs seem like a quick solution for businesses it will not help Service Canada work more efficiently.
For employees applying for EI, know that employees can always provide Service Canada with pay stubs/a copy of the ROE to create an interim ROE while waiting for their employer’s ROE

If my employees are laid off, can they work while receiving EI?

Employees can work while on a claim using the Workshare program, this is a three-way agreement with the employee, employer and Service Canada that takes about 30 days to negotiate. If the employer has already put this in place, Service Canada will waive the 30 days of negotiation.

What support is available for my employees if they are temporarily laid off due to COVID-19?

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB): may provide the employee with temporary income support if you have stopped working because of COVID-19.
The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.
If you are eligible for a new EI claim starting March 15, 2020 or after, your EI Regular and Sickness benefits will be delivered as part of the Government of Canada's Canada Emergency Response Benefit. If you have a new Regular or Sickness EI claim starting March 15, 2020 or after, your benefits will be delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html

Employment Insurance (EI): If you have recently applied for Employment Insurance (EI) regular or sickness benefits, do not re-apply. Your application will automatically be assessed to determine if you are eligible for the CERB.
A medical certificate is no longer required for EI claims beginning March 15, 2020 or later.
If you have a new Regular or Sickness EI claim starting March 15, 2020 or after, your benefits will be delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html

Business is slow and I don’t have enough work for my employee. What can I do about this?

The government has pledged $10 billion in a credit facility administered by the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. There are also steps you can take to determine your business’ future:
Review your finances: Look at your revenue vs your expenses – are you able to meet your basic expenses? Speak to your accountant/bookkeeper about your options and whether it makes sense to stay open, pause your business, shut down until an opportunity in the market arises, or close your business.
Make a Business Continuity Plan: Weathering the storm will be difficult, make sure you have a plan as to how to do it. Restarting a business that has been suspended will take thought and time to bring back to its former level. Are there other options for your business to stay open? Can you find new suppliers? Can you change your business model to continue to serve your clients (i.e. provide delivery of food instead of having sit-in customers)

Speak to your commercial insurance provider: We have been hearing from you and insurance companies that COVID-19 is very rarely covered. Some insurance companies require that you have physical damage in order to access your Business Interruption insurance, others just do not cover diseases. Because every commercial insurance policy is different, we recommend that you speak with your insurance provider to better understand what coverage is available to you under the terms of your policy. If anything, you should check if any flexibility exists with your insurer and figure out what you may need to know to keep your commercial and personal insurance policies valid for when you are ready to open your business doors again. For more information visit the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
The Insurance Bureau of Canada (IBC) is implementing a series of consumer relief measures to ease the financial burden on insurance customers. These include immediate auto premium reductions and waiving NSF fees charged by insurers for insufficient funds to cover a customer’s premium. IBC members will also work with small businesses to help manage costs, exploring flexible payment options for those in a vulnerable position or facing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19. For more information about business interruption coverage, read IBC’s FAQ. You should review it before calling your insurance provider.

Communicate with your employees twice a week:

  • Let employees know what safety measures/policies you are putting in place to keep them safe.
  • Post educational posters and share safety tips.
  • Ensure that there is a way for employees to notify you if they are sick whether that be through health and safety representative/committee or though their manager.
  • Talk to employees about their job security/health status/income options. Are they entitled to employment insurance.
Updates to the Canada Summer Jobs Program (aka 100% wage subsidy)

The Canada Summer Jobs Program (CSJ Program) is an initiative to help students (15-30 years of age) gain quality work experience and to encourage businesses, who would normally not have the financial capability, to hire a student worker by subsidizing their wage.
I have applied. How will the updates affect my business if I am approved in May?
Private and public sector employers can now receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee instead of the previous 50%. Employers will be allowed to hire staff on a part-time basis. Agreed upon contract can be extended to February 28, 2021
I have not applied to this program, but I am an essential service who could really benefit from this program. How will the updates affect my business?
Local MPs will be able to recommend businesses they deem as an essential service in their communities for consideration to be late applicants into the CSJ Program
The government has not announced if there will be an application system available to date. If you would like your local MP to consider you, we encourage you to write them a letter explaining your situation as an essential service and how this program could benefit you and your community.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/funding/canada-summer-jobs/screening-eligibility.html

What COVID scams do I need to be aware of?

As businesses close and there is a move to working at home, cyber-security is more important than ever. There have already been reports of malicious e-mails masquerading as legitimate entities using the COVID-19 pandemic in an effort to capture private and personal information.
NOTE: Government will not reach out to you directly by phone or email to offer you relief
Phishing
When fraudsters pose as a company, brand or e-mail address you recognize, it’s called phishing. A play on the word fish, the perpetrators are fishing for someone to fall for their scam by sending e-mails (usually with a link to a website) purporting to be from a reputable company. They’re hoping to trick people into giving out personal information or making payments.
How to prevent phishing:

  • Make sure you have a spam filter on your e-mails
  • Look for tell-tale signs such as typos, grammar errors or poor image quality
  • Check the e-mail address – businesses and organizations don’t use Hotmail or Gmail accounts
  • Don’t assume people or businesses are who they say they are
  • Don’t give out personal/business information unless you’re absolutely sure of who you are dealing with.
  • Trust your instincts – if you’re not comfortable, contact the company directly to find out if the message is legitimate.

Phone Scams
Callers will try to trick you into handing over personal information (full name, address, Social Insurance Number, etc.) by posing as a government official. A true government official will be willing to provide you with their name, agent number (if applicable), department, and the building they are calling from. They will also already have all your information. Examples of these scams include callers pretending to be from CRA either threatening criminal action if a fine isn’t paid or offering relief monies paid by direct deposit.
Text Scams
Similar to phishing, text scams will try to get you to click a link that will either lead to a malicious website or download malicious content onto your phone. Recent examples include a fake Red Cross text offering free face masks if you just click the link…
Stop and think before you share personal information over the phone or click on COVID-19-related links.

What rent assistance is available for small businesses?

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA): Under the CECRA, the Federal Government will offer forgivable loans to the landlord equal to 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financing hardship in April, May, and June. The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the small business tenants’ rent by at least 75%, with the remaining 25% or less covered by the tenant.
The forgivable loans would be disbursed directly to the landlord’s mortgage lender. If a landlord does not have a mortgage secured by commercial rental property, different program options may be available, which may include applying funds against other forms of debt facilities or fixed cost payment obligations (e.g. utilities). This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
For more information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html#businesses

What are the tools and resources available for Post Pandemic Business recovery?

Ontario is releasing safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy. These resources are available for different sectors. They will help employers and workers better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Sector guidelines contain recommendations and tips for employers on how to keep workers safe on the job. Posters for both employers and workers also offer advice on preventative actions, including physical distancing and workplace sanitation. Employers are encouraged to download the posters to print and post in the workplace.

  • Post-Pandemic Business Playbook (PDF): A starter guide to restarting a Post Pandemic business.
  • Pandemic Recovery-Return to Business Checklist (PDF): This checklist is intended as a self-assessment tool to assist you in ramping back up to regular business operations.
  • Post-Pandemic Checklist: For Businesses Operating as Usual (PDF)
  • Post-Pandemic Checklist: For Businesses Returning After Shutdown (PDF)
  • Post-Pandemic Checklist: For Businesses Returning after Working Remotely (PDF)
  • COVID-19 Sector-Specific Health and Safety Guidance Documents
  • COVID-19 Workplace Safety Posters

For more information: https://www.wsps.ca/Information-Resources/Topics/COVID-19-Keeping-safe-during-the-pandemic.aspx
For more information: https://www.ontario.ca/page/resources-prevent-covid-19-workplace

Useful Links

World Health Organization: Latest updates
Centres for Disease Control and Prevention: Hand washing techniques
Government of Canada: Coronavirus disease (COVID-19)
Bing COVID Tracker: COVID-19 Tracker
Anxiety Canada: Anxiety management
City of Toronto COVID-19 Economic Support and Recovery: Economic Support and Recovery
City of Toronto COVID-19 Health Advice: Health Advice
BDC: Support for entrepreneurs impacted by the COVID-19 coronavirus
Business Development Bank of Canada: Business continuity plan and templates
EDC: COVID-19
Toronto Region COVID-19 assessment centres: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/covid-19-what-you-should-do/covid-19-have-symptoms-or-been-exposed/covid-19-assessment-centres/
COVID-19 Assessment centres by City: https://covid-19.ontario.ca/assessment-centre-locations/

Additional Updates and Resources

Tax Filing Deadline has been extended by at least 1 month: Click Here
Uber has waived all its delivery fees and will allow same day payouts to for Local Restaurants everywhere: Click Here
Latest news releases from the Prime Minister of Canada: Click Here
Facebook is offering cash grants and ad credits: Click Here
The major banks have announced mitigation measures to help small businesses: Click Here
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses: Click Here
Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Business preparedness guide: Click Here
Latest list of essential business services: Click Here

Covid-19 Latest News

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