COVID-19 : Important Updates
Dear BIA Members,
As we continue to watch the impacts and developments surrounding Covid-19 across the globe and recognize the future challenges ahead, ensuring the health and safety of our BIA Businesses, Employees, families and communities remains top priority. Staying informed and having access to current information and recommendations from the Federal and Provincial Governments, City of Toronto and Toronto Public Health is essential in obtaining the support, resources and guidelines needed during this difficult time.
The following links provide important information for businesses, employers and employees:
- The Government of Canada, Department of Finance announced $27 Billion in funding on March 18, 2020 to support Canadian workers and businesses as part of their COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html
- The Toronto Public Health Fact Sheet for Guidance in the Workplace, Businesses and Employers provides an outline of how businesses and employers can protect themselves and their customers in the workplace. Additional information can be found at:https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/9538-Fact-Sheet-for-Workplaces-Non-Healthcare_final.pdf
- The Mayor of Toronto implemented an Economic Support and Recovery Task Force to assist with the economic impact businesses are facing due to Covid-19. Focusses include a 30 day grace period beginning March 16, 2020, for Property and Utility payments, a contingency fund to support businesses and assistance with Employment Insurance for those directly affecting by Covid-19. For further details please visit: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/economic-support-recovery/
We will continue to monitor and keep you updated on the latest information through our social media channels and our website www.dukeheights.ca. During this time of uncertainty, we must continue to work together and support one another. Stay safe and be well.
Duke Heights BIA
Frequently Asked Questions
- Tax filing and remittance deadlines 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 additional information: https://budget.ontario.ca/2020/marchupdate/relief-measures.html
- City is extending the due date for all utility bills issued (Water/Sewer Service and Solid Waste Management charges where applicable), by an additional 60 days, to give utility customers an additional 60 days to make payment to take advantage of the early payment discount.
- The Government of Ontario is providing temporary 45-day emergency relief to support Ontarians impacted by the global COVID-19 outbreak. As of March 24, 2020, households, farms and small businesses that pay time-of-use electricity rates will be charged the off-peak rate of 10.1¢ per kWh, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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: https://www.torontohydro.com/covid-19
- 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 covers 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
- Business Credit Availability Program (BACP-BDC): BDC will provide a guarantee (a form of a backstop) for your loan with your financial institution, giving your financial institution the assurance to give you access to credit. New relief measures for qualified businesses include: - Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months for qualifying businesses; - Postponement of payments for up to 6 months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less; - Reduced rates on new eligible loans - No restriction on business size.: https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/special-support.aspx?special-initiative=covid19
- Business Credit Availability Program (BACP-EDC): EDC has introduced initiatives to help Canadian exporters respond to COVID-19 including: Guarantee on loans of up to $5M so that companies can access more cash immediately - Cover insurance losses for goods shipped even if the buyer has not accepted the goods, subject to terms - Waiving the 60-day waiting period for insurance claims
- Private Bank Debt & Payment Relief: Effective immediately, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank 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 such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; childcare disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19 https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html
- 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 business 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. https://www.feddevontario.gc.ca/eic/site/723.nsf/eng/h_02567.html?OpenDocument
- Export Guaranteed Program: EDC will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans that financial institutions extend to SMEs, up to $6.25 million. The program cap for this new loan program will be a total of $20 billion for export sector and domestic companies: https://www.edc.ca/en/solutions/working-capital/export-guarantee-program.html
- Interest Free Loans: The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000): https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/additional-support-for-canadian-businesses-from-the-economic-impact-of-covid-19.html#_New_Loan_Programs
- Loan Guarantees for small and medium businesses: The EDC will work with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.
- Co-landing program: The BDC will work with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program. BDC’s portion of this program is up to $5 million maximum per loan. Eligible financial institutions will conduct the underwriting and manage the interface with their customers. The potential for lending for this program will be $20 billion. https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update.html
- 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. 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. https://www.ngen.ca/covid-19-response
- The Declaration of a provincial emergency has been extended and will be in effect until April 14, 2020.
- Read the list of essential workplaces in response to COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus): 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: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/3/stop-the-spread-business-information-line-now-open-at-1-888-444-3659.html
The Federal economic response plan is a set of actions that aim to help support businesses and individuals who are affected by the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plan consists of direct and indirect support. Direct supports include temporary business wage subsidies, and enhanced childcare benefits. Indirect measures include tax payment deferrals, and additional credit facilities through the BCAP program. The table below reflects a breakdown of the economic response plan as at 31 March 2020.
|Economic Response Plan (as at 31 March 2020)|
|Emergency Care Benefit||Up to $10 billion||Early April|
|*requires Royal Assent|
|Emergency Support Benefit||Up to $5 billion||Early April|
|*requires Royal Assent|
|GST Credit||$5.5 billion||By Early May|
|*requires Royal Assent|
|Enhanced Canada Child Benefit||$1.9 billion||May|
|*requires Royal Assent|
|Temporary Business Wage Subsidy||$3.8 billion||Immediately|
|Supporting legislation to follow|
|Canada Student Loan Payments||$190 million||Early April|
|* requires Royal Assent|
|Support for Indigenous Communities||$305 million||April|
|* requires Royal Assent|
|Support for people experiencing homelessness (through Reaching Home)||$157.5 million||April|
|* requires Royal Assent|
|Support for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres including on reserve||$50 million||April|
|* requires Royal Assent|
|Lower Registered Retirement Income Fund Minimum Withdrawal Amounts||$495 million||Immediately|
|Supporting legislation to follow|
|WSIB’s workplace insurance||$1.9 bilion|
|Flexibility for individual and corporate taxpayers (tax payment deferral until September)||$55 billion||Immediately|
|Canada Emergency Business Account
SME Loan and Guarantee program
BDC Co-Lending Program
|Credit and liquidity support through financial Crown corporations, Bank of Canada, OSFI, CMHC and commercial lenders (e.g., Domestic Stability Buffer, Insured Mortgage Purchase Program, Banker’s Acceptance Purchase Facility)||In the range of $500 billion||Immediately|
The city will be suspending automated withdrawals and provide a 60-day grace period for Property taxes payments starting March 16, 2020.
- For businesses on the regular three-instalment payment plan, the April 1 property tax instalment due date would be extended to June 1, 2020.
- For property owners on the 11-instalment pre-authorized payment plan, Interim 2020 instalment due dates will be extended by 60 days.
- Late payment penalties (applied on the first day following the instalment due date where payment in full is not received) would be waived for 60 days, starting March 16, 2020.
- As Interim 2020 bills have already been mailed that specify the regular instalment due dates, the City will use other means (website, social media, other advertising), to identify this grace period to business owners. Property tax accounts will be adjusted as necessary to reflect these relief measures.
For additional information: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/economic-support-recovery/economic-support-recovery-for-businesses/
- 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
- 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 additional information and how to apply: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social- development/corporate/notices/coronavirus/employers-factsheet.html
- The government has announced a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months to all businesses and non-profit organizations seeing a drop of at least 30 per cent in revenue due to COVID – 19, regardless of how many people they employ. The subsidy will be backdated to March 15th and will be equal to up to 75% of remuneration paid during that period. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.
For additional information and how to apply: More details will be shared as they get updated
- 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 cashflow during this period.
- Understand what support has been offered to businesses by the federal or provincial government. (e.g. Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP))
- 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, rumours 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 work sites and work hours?
- Do you have a policy in place for employees who may, or think they may have been exposed to the virus?
- 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, sub-contractor 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), chain of communications (including suppliers and customers), and processes for tracking and communicating business and employee status.
- 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?
- 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.
- Increased public fear that causes citizens to avoid public places, including front line retail and tourist–related attractions, restaurants and leisure businesses.
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 corona virus 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.
Having a small business sick policy or attendance policy is 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.
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 risk of the virus.
- Posting safety measures and encouraging employees to follow them to help prevent 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.
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.
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
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