Originally published on March 20, 2020
Last updated May 25, 2020
In this Bulletin, we outline details of Canada's Economic Response Plan, and corresponding measures in select provinces.
- Economic Support for Individuals and Families;
- Economic Support for Businesses;
- Industry-Specific Support;
- Travel Restrictions and Self-Isolation; and
- Provincial Measures in Ontario, Québec, Alberta, and British Columbia
DISCLAIMER: We expect that there will be new information available due to constant developments and rapidly changing information. We will continue to keep you posted as more developments occur.
Bill C-13, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act provides the government with the authority to implement and administer Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. These measures aim to protect Canadians' health and safety while also stabilizing our country's economy. This Response Plan extends economic support to individuals and families as well as businesses.
Individuals and families
- Families receiving the Canada Child Benefit ("CCB") will receive an extra $300 per child as part of the scheduled payment in May. Moreover, the CCB has been increased for the month of July to a maximum benefit of $6,765 per child under age 6, and $5,708 for children aged 6 to 17.
- Low and modest income individuals will receive a one-time special payment of approximately $400 ($600 for couples) by early May through the Goods and Services Tax credit ("GSTC").
- The Canada Revenue Agency ("CRA") has deferred income tax filings and payment. For individuals, the filing date for the 2019 tax year has been extended to Jun 1, 2020, with payments due on September 1, 2020.
- Insured Mortgage Purchase Program offers government-guaranteed insurance to the following mortgages funded prior to March 20, 2020:
- Low loan-to-value mortgages with a maximum amortization term up to 30 years commencing from when the loan was funded; and
- Low loan-to-value mortgages whose purpose includes the purchase of a property, subsequent renewal of such a loan, or refinancing.
- The Canada Emergency Response Benefit ("CERB") will provide a taxable benefit of up to $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to individuals facing unemployment as a direct result of COVID-19. Online applications may be submitted starting in on April 6th. This benefit is available to workers who:
- reside in Canada and are at least 15 years old;
- have been unemployed as a result of the pandemic and have not voluntarily quit their job;
- had an income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.
- On April 15, the Government expanded the CERB to allow individuals to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the benefit. The CERB is also now available to workers, including seasonal workers, who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
- Unemployed individuals may The Government of Canada will provide up to $3 billion in support to increase the wages of low-income essential workers. The top-up support measures offered in Ontario, Quebec, and British Columbia are outlined below.
- Unemployed individuals may also apply also apply for Employment Insurance ("EI") provided they meet the eligibility criteria for this benefit. Note that EI benefits and CERB cannot be paid for the same period.
- If an individual became eligible for EI prior to March 15th, the individual's claim will be processed under the pre-existing EI rules.
- For those individuals eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits on March 15th or onwards, the claim will be automatically processed through CERB.
- EI Sickness Benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine. Individuals may receive 55% of their earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week. The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits has been waived for new claimants who are quarantined. Also, people claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will no longer have to provide a medical certificate.
- On May 12, 2020, the Government of Canada announced additional support for Canadian seniors. Seniors who are eligible for the Old Age Security ("OAS") pension, will receive a one-time tax-free payment of $300. Those eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement ("GIS") will also receive an additional $200, for a total of $500.
- Measures include reducing the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds ("RRIFs") by 25% for 2020.
- The government also is contributing $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations providing practical services to Canadian seniors. These services include the delivery of groceries, medications, or other needed items, or personal outreach to assess individuals' needs and connect them to community supports.
Youth, Students, and New Graduates
- On April 23, the government announced a $9 billion proposal to provide post-secondary and recent graduates with financial support. The Canada Emergency Student Benefit would provide students and recent graduates who do not qualify for the CERB $1,250 per month, or $1,750 per month for those with disabilities or dependents. Moreover, the Canada Service Grant will provide students with an opportunity to do national service during the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide up to $5,000 towards education fees in the upcoming fall term.
- As of March 30th, students and recent graduates repaying their Canada Student Loans will be granted with a 6 month interest-free moratorium. The government has also announced that to provide financial assistance to students, eligibility requirements for student financial assistance will be broadened by removing the expected student's and spouse's contributions in the 2020-21 period. Moreover, changes proposed to the Canada Student Loans Program ("CSLP") aim to double the grants available to eligible full-time students to a maximum of $6,000. Part-time students will also be eligible to up to $3,600 in grants for the 2020-2021 academic year.
- The government is providing $7.5 million in funding to Kids Help Phone to provide young people with mental health support during this difficult time.
Other Vulnerable Populations
- The government is investing $350 million to support vulnerable Canadians through charities and non-profit organizations delivering essential services. The Emergency Community Support Fund will flow to local chapters through national organizations that serve vulnerable populations in a myriad of ways including: providing transportation services, delivering groceries and medications, and helping Canadians access government benefits.
- On May 21, 2020 the federal government announced $75 million in new funding for Indigenous organizations providing services to Indigenous peoples in urban centers and off reserve. Recognizing the unique needs of Northern communities during these challenging times, the government will also be providing additional funding to the governments of Nunavut, Yukon, and the Northwest Territories. This includes $72.6 million to support COVID-19 health and social service preparations and response, $17.3 million to support northern air carriers, $15 million in non-repayable support for businesses, and an addition $25 million to Nutrition North Canada.
- The government has provided $157.5 million to the Reaching Home initiative to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak
- Women's shelters and sexual assault centers will receive $50 million to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak within their facilities. This funding includes support for Indigenous Services Canada ("ISC"), an organization helping Indigenous women and children fleeing violence.
- On April 3rd, the Prime Minister announced new support for Canada's food banks and local food organizations that reach out to people and communities experiencing food insecurity. These organizations include Food Banks Canada, Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
- On April 11, Bill C-14, the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, No. 2, received Royal Assent. This legislation provides further details and flexibilities with respect to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ("CEWS").
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is offering temporary wage subsidies of up to 75% (up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week per employee) to employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of the public sector. This program will be applied retroactively as of March 15, 2020, and until August 29, 2020. Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March and 30% in the following months when compared to 2019 will be able to access the subsidy. Moreover, all eligible employers are entitled to receive 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.
- On April 21, the Minister of National Revenue launched the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator to support employers as they prepare to apply for the CEWS. The CRA is set to begin the application process on April 27, 2020. Funds for approved applications are set to be released on May 5, 2020.
- The 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month assistance program that supports eligible employers by reducing the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the CRA. Eligible employers include individuals, trusts, partnerships, non-profit organizations, registered charities, and Canadian-controlled private corporations that have an existing business number and payroll program account with the CRA as of March 18, 2020, and pay remuneration to employees. This subsidy is equal to 10% of the remunerations paid from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020 (up to $1,375 per employee, to a maximum total of $25,000 per employer).
- While it is possible to apply to both the CEWS and the temporary 10% subsidy, any benefit from the 10% wage subsidy generally reduces the amount available to be claimed under the CEWS for that same period.
Access to Credit
- The Canada Emergency Business Account ("CEBA") is a new loan program that will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of up to $10,000. On May 19, 2020, the Prime Minister announced expansions to the eligibility criteria for CEBA. With this announcement, applicants with a payroll lower than $20,000 may be qualified if they:
- (1) have a business operating account at a participating financial institution;
- (2) have a Canadian Revenue Agency business number and have filed a tax return for the 2018 or 2019 year; and
- (3) can demonstrate between $40,000 to $1.5 million in eligible non-deferrable expenses, such as rent, property taxes, and insurance.
- On May 11, 2020 the federal government introduced a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility ("LEEFF") to provide bridge financing to Canada's largest employers and protect jobs. This program will be available to Canadian employers who:
- have a significant impact on Canada's economy;
- can generally demonstrate approximately $300 million or more in significant workforce in Canada; and
- require a minimum loan size of approximately $60 million.
- Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance ("CECRA") seeks to provide small businesses financial relief, by providing loans to commercial property owners who will in turn lower the rent of small businesses by at least 75% for the months of April, May, and June, 2020. This program can be applied retroactively. Forgivable loans that cover up to 50% of the gross rent owed by impacted small business tenants are available to eligible property owners. Applications will be accepted through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website as of May 25, 2020.
- Eligible property owners must meet the following requirements: (1) generate rental revenue from commercial real property in Canada, (2) have a mortgage loan secured by the commercial real property occupied by one or more small business tenants, (3) enter into a rent reduction agreement for the period of April, May, and June 2020, and includes a moratorium on eviction for the same three-month period; and (4) declare rental income on personal or corporate tax returns for the 2018 and/or 2019 tax year. Alternative arrangements are set to be implemented for those property owners who do not have a mortgage.
- For the purposes of this program, impacted small business tenants are businesses, including non-profit and charitable organizations, that: (1) pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location; (2) generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues; and (3) have temporarily ceased operations (i.e. generating no revenues), or experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues.
- The Business Credit Availability Program ("BCAP") offers additional credit support to small and medium-sized business businesses in all sectors and regions. Through this program, Export Development Canada ("EDC") and the Business Development Bank of Canada ("BDC") will provide $65 billion in direct lending and other types of financial support at market rates to businesses with viable business models whose access to financing would otherwise be restricted.
Work Sharing Program
- Work-Sharing is an EI program that helps employers and employees avoid layoffs. This program allows employers to retain skilled employees when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer. On a temporary basis, the maximum duration of this program has been extended from 38 to 76 weeks.
- The CRA has extended the payment date of income tax for corporations and self-employed individuals to September 1, 2020.
- Businesses, including self-employed individuals, can defer the payment of the Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax ("GST/HST") as well as customs duties owing on their imports until June 30, 2020. Note that the deadline to file returns remains unchanged.
- The CRA has also committed to not initiating any post assessment GST/HST or income tax audits for the next 4 weeks.
Canada Summer Jobs
- Temporary changes have been introduced to the Canada Summer Jobs program to help small businesses hire and retain the workers they need to deliver essential services. These measures include:
- An increase to the wage subsidy so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee;
- An extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021;
- Flexibility for employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services; and
- Allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis.
- The Bank of Canada has responded to the outbreak by lowering interest rates, and providing liquidity support for financial institutions. Moreover, the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions has announced that it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets to expand banks' lending capacity.
- The federal government is providing $675 million to Canada's Regional Development Agencies. This Regional Relief and Recovery Fund ("RRRF") will support small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access the government's existing COVID-19 measures.
- Small and medium sized businesses who do not qualify for the CEWS or loans may be eligible to receive funding from the Community Futures Network, an organization which has recently received $287 million in support from the federal government. Similarly, $20.1 million in funding has been announced to support young entrepreneurs across Canada through Futurpreneur Canada.
- The government has allocated $306.8 million to support small and medium sized indigenous businesses via short-term, interest-free loans, and non-repayable contributions through Aboriginal Financial Institutions.
The government's COVID-19 Response Fund aims to support Canada's existing industrial and innovation programs to prioritize the fight against the virus. Manufacturing lines of existing Canadian businesses are also being retooled to rapidly scale up the production of essential supplies.
Food Supply and Agriculture
On May 14, 2020, the Government of Canada announced the launch of the Fish Harvester Benefit, a program that helps provide income support to self-employed fish harvesters who cannot access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Support will be provided to those who have experienced a decline in their fishing income of at least 25% compared to a previous reference period.
The federal government is also collaborating with the provinces and territories to increase interim payments provided through the AgriStability program from 50 to 75%. The deadline to apply for this support has now been extended to July 3, 2020.
The government has invested $77.5 million to establish the Emergency Processing Fund. This fund will allow Canadian food processors adjust operations and continue production during the COVID-19 crisis. For instance, it will help food processors access more personal protective equipment, adapt to health protocols, and modernize domestic food processing facilities.
The federal government has introduced temporary measures to the national AgriRecovery initiative to ease the burden on provincial and territorial governments during these difficult times. The Government of Canada will contribute the federal share to this cost-shared program for the 2020-21 fiscal year without requiring provincial contributions. This year the federal government proposes to compensate 90% (compared to the usual 70%) of eligible extraordinary costs faced by cattle and hog producers.
The Canadian Dairy Commission ("CDC") will be able to access up to $200 million in additional funds to cover costs associated with the temporary storage of cheese and butter. This additional borrowing capacity will be available until July 31, 2020.
The Surplus Food Purchase Program is receiving $50 million in funding from the federal government to repurpose and redistribute existing and identified surplus food to food security organizations across Canada.
The Government of Canada is providing $20 million to the Canada Food Inspection Agency ("CFIA") to support the hiring and training of additional staff to conduct critical inspection activities and minimize supply disruptions during the course of this pandemic.
On March 23, the Prime Minister announced that Farm Credit Canada will receive support that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. In addition, all eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, allowing them an additional six months to repay the loan.
Recognizing the contributions of foreign workers in Canada's agriculture industry, Canada will allow temporary foreign workers to continue to travel to Canada despite the travel restrictions enforced in response to the pandemic. On April 13, the government announced $50 million of additional support to assist farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers to implement necessary measures for the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad. Employers can face significant penalties if they prevent adherence to the self-isolation order. During the two-week isolation period, employers are responsible for paying workers, in addition to providing accommodation and access to food and basic supplies. The government is offering financial support to compliant employers ($1,500 per temporary foreign worker).
Cultural, Heritage, and Sport Organizations
On April 17, the government announced a new COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage, and Sport Organizations. This fund will provide $500 million to help address the financial needs of affected organizations, which will in turn continue to support artists and athletes.
Energy and Natural Resources
Recognizing the significant challenges faced by Canada's energy sector in this time of pandemic, the government has committed over $2 billion to create and protect jobs in this industry. The federal government will be collaborating with the Governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia to support the clean up inactive oil and gas wells.
On April 17, the government released draft legislative proposals relating to the Income Tax Act that would support Canadian news and broadcasting sectors during the COVID-19 pandemic. These tax measures include expanding the qualification criteria for the Canadian journalism labour tax credit.
In order to reduce cost pressures and preserve cash flow, the government announced on March 30th that it will be waiving rents paid on ground leases for the 21 airport authorities that form the National Airport System. Rent payments will be waived from March 2020 until December 2020. Similar relief has been extended to PortsToronto, which operates Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, whereby payments made to the government on revenues generated by the airport will be temporarily waived.
Medical Research and Health Care
On May 4, 2020 Canada joined other global leaders to launch the Coronavirus Global Response. This initiative is an international online pledging event that seeks to encourage global cooperation between scientists, regulators, industry, and governments. The funds raised through this initiative will be used to support the development of rapid coronavirus diagnostics, treatments, and vaccines.
In an effort to quickly mobilize Canadian researchers and life sciences companies, the Government is contributing $275 million for coronavirus research and medical countermeasures. The majority of this funding will be directed towards Canadian private sector companies engaged in the research and supply of potential vaccines and treatments. On May 15, 2020, an additional $450 million in funding was announced to help Canada's academic research community during the pandemic. This funding aims to assist universities and health research institutes maintain essential research-related activities.
The Government of Canada has also announced up to $100 million in funding to help the Canadian Red Cross meet increased demands due to COVID-19.
Travel restrictions and self isolation
Canada has implemented a ban on foreign nationals from all countries, other than the U.S. Moreover, as of March 21, 2020 there is a restriction on all non-essential travel at the Canada-U.S border. This restriction will remain in force until June 21, 2020. Commercial supply chains remain open and trade between Canada and the U.S. continues uninterrupted despite these measures.
On March 25, the Minister of Health announced an Emergency Order under the Quarantine Act that requires any person entering Canada to self-isolate for 14 days whether or not they have symptoms of COVID-19. Failure to comply with this Order is an offense punishable by a monetary fine of up to $750,000 and/or imprisonment for six months. This Order does not apply to those who regularly cross to border to provide essential services and ensure the continued flow of goods.
On April 14, the Department of Justice and the Public Health Agency of Canada announced that regulatory amendments under the Contraventions Act have come into force to provide law enforcement agencies with increased flexibility to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with orders under the Federal Quarantine Act. Offences could result in tickets with fines ranging from $275 to $1,000 based on the seriousness of the conduct.
- Declaration of Emergency: The province has extended Ontario's Declaration of Emergency pursuant to the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until May 29, 2020, despite beginning to implement Stage 1 of its Framework for Reopening.
- School Closures: On May 19, 2020, the Ontario Government announced that schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019/2020 academic year. While emergency childcare services continue to operate and provide support for health care and other front line workers, licensed child care centres and EarlyON programs will remain closed through Stage 2 of the Framework for Reopening the Province.
- Reopening: On May 14, 2020, the Ontario government announced that retailers, seasonal businesses, and health and community service providers can begin operating as of May 19, 2020 alongside other essential businesses.
- Pandemic Pay: On April 25, 2020, the Ontario Government announced that it will provide a temporary pandemic wage increase of $4 an hour. Workers who will be working over 100 hours per month will also receive a lump sum payment of $250 per month until August, 2020.
- Social Gatherings: Ontario continues to restrict gatherings of more than 5 people. There are a few exceptions including households with more than five people, and funerals, which will allow up to 10 people at a time.
- Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act: The Ontario Legislature passed Bill 189, the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act to impose emergency response measures by way of amending several key legislations. These amendments include:
- Education Act: Allowing school boards to continue charging fees on new construction in order to retain a vital source of revenue for new school projects.
- Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Act: Temporarily suspending student loan payments for OSAP borrowers and initiating a six-month interest-free moratorium on OSAP loans.
- Planning Act: Providing municipalities the option to suspend certain planning decision timelines during a declared state of emergency, pausing the need for municipalities and planning boards to make planning decisions within specified timelines without the risk of appeal.
- Development Charges Act: Allowing municipalities with an expiring development charge by-law to use their existing by-law during the current emergency and for six months following the end of the emergency declaration.
- Police Services Act: Allowing the Solicitor General to give municipalities an extension beyond January 1, 2021 to prepare and adopt a community safety and well-being plan.
- Ontario Together: The Ontario government has launched a new $50 million Ontario Together Fund to help businesses provide innovative solutions or retool their operations in order to manufacture essential medical supplies and equipment.
- Pandemic Threat Response ("PANTHR"): In consultation with the Ontario Privacy Commissioner, the province is developing a new health data platform to hold secure health data that will allow researchers to better support health system planning and responsiveness. PANTHR aims to integrate anonymized data from numerous sources, including: physician claims submitted to the Ontario Health Insurance Plan ("OHIP"), medical drug claims submitted to the Ontario Drug Benefit Program, discharge summaries of hospital stays and emergency department visits, and claims for home and long-term care.
- Ontario's Action Plan: The Government of Ontario has outlined a $17 billion response to support the health care system, communities, and economy in this time of emergency. This response includes:
- A proposal to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System ("GAINS") for low income seniors to $166 per month, for six months.
- Assisting families to pay for extra costs associated with school and daycare closures with a one-time $200 payment per child of up to 12 years, and $250 for children with special needs.
- Six months of loan and Interest accrual relief for student borrowers under the Ontario Student Assistance Program ("OSAP").
- Setting electricity prices for time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, 24 hours a day for 45 days to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage. The Government of Ontario has also expanded eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program ("LEAP").
- Provincial Tax Deferrals: Providing a five-month interest and penalty-free period to make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes. The Ontario government is also providing taxpayers in unincorporated areas of northern Ontario more time (an extra 90 days) to pay each of the four 2020 Provincial Land Tax installments.
- Provincial Supply Chain: The Government of Ontario has introduced new regulations (O Reg 92/20) pursuant to the Supply Chain Management Act to enable the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services and the Ministry of Health to centrally manage public sector supply chains and collect key data on inventories, orders, and supply constraints. Moreover, the government has launched a web portal to connect workers with employers looking to fill positions in the agri-food sector.
- Declaration of Emergency: Québec declared a health emergency throughout the province on March 13. This Order has been extended and continues to apply until May 27, 2020. Québec has now entered a new phase of reopening its economy.
- Temporary Aid for Workers Program: The Gouvernement du Québec has partnered with the Red Cross to provide financial assistance for workers who are in isolation due to COVID-19. The lump-sum amount granted to eligible persons is $573 per week for a period of 14 days of isolation.
- Incentive Program to Retain Essential Workers ("IPREW"): The Québec government has announced a new financial assistance program for individuals working essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic. The assistance amount is intended to make up the difference between the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) and an eligible individual's wages. This means that, in addition to their wages, a worker could receive a taxable benefit of $400 per month, for a total of $1,600 for the full 16-month period.
- Wage Increase: As of May 1, 2020, the minimum wage across the province has increased to $13.10/ hour. Those with an employment income of $550 or less per week remain eligible for the IPREW.
- Emergency Support to Small and Medium Sized Businesses: The province is extending loans of up to $50,000 to small and medium sized businesses experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19.
- Provincial Tax Deferrals: For individuals and businesses, the deadline for paying an income tax balance for 2019 has been extended to September 1, 2020.
- Reopening: As of May 4, retail businesses and manufacturing sites may begin to operate alongside priority services and activities. As of June 1, dental centres, pet grooming operations, and businesses in the personal care and beauty sector may also begin to operate.
- Schools and Camps: Since May 11, 2020, preschool establishments and elementary schools have began to reopen in all regions across Québec. However, secondary schools will remain closed until the end of August, and will continue by way of distance learning. The Québec government has also authorized day camps to begin operating as of June 22, 2020, provided they adhere to distancing rules and enforce strict hygiene measures.
- Social Gatherings: As of May 22, outdoor gatherings of up to 10 people from a maximum of three households are permitted, provided distancing measures are respected.
- Declaration of Emergency: Alberta's Premier and Chief Medical Officer of Health declared COVID-19 a public health emergency on March 17. Since May 14, 2020, Alberta has introduced a relaunch strategy that aims to safely reopen the economy across the province.
- Reopening: As of May 14, 2020, a number of restrictions have been lifted to allow non-essential businesses such as retail, farmers' markets, and businesses in the beauty sector to resume operations. Although the cities of Calgary and Brooks have reopened more gradually due to higher cases of COVID-19, the province announced that as of May 25, 2020, cafes, restaurants, pubs, and bars may reopen for table service at 50% capacity in these cities. The province has launched a new web platform has been launched to provide businesses with information about sector-specific guidelines as they prepare reopening.
- School Closures: All kindergarten to grade 12 classes have been cancelled until the start of the next academic year in September. Daycares and out-of-school care locations are now allowed to resume operations, provided they implement increased infection prevention and control measures.
- Emergency Isolation Support: Eligible working Albertans can receive a one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 if they are required to self-isolate or are the sole caregiver of someone in self-isolation and they have no other source of pay or compensation.
- Relief for the Tourism Industry: The Alberta government is offering the hospitality sector support by deferring tourism levy payments until August 31, 2020.
- Social Gatherings: Indoor gatherings of up to 15 people are now permitted, provided physical distancing guidelines are followed. Outdoor gatherings are currently capped at 50 people.
- Tax Deferrals: Collection of non-residential education property tax for businesses has been deferred for 6 months.
- Declaration of Emergency: On March 17, the Province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency pursuant to the Emergency Program Act. This declaration has been extended until May 26, 2020. B.C has now begun to implement its Restart Plan.
- Pandemic Pay: On May 19, B.C. announced that health and social service workers delivering front-line care will receive a temporary financial boost by way of COVID-19 Pandemic Pay. This lump-sum payment of about $4 per hour for a 16-week period will be retroactive as of March 15, 2020.
- Financial Support: The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a one-time $1,000 payment to people who lost income due to COVID-19. In addition, the government is providing a one-time enhancement to the climate action tax credit for low to moderate-income families. The province has also amended the Employment Standards Act to extend the temporary layoff period to 16 weeks, if it is due to COVID-19 related reasons.
- Reopening: B.C.'s Restart Plan aims to reopen the economy for businesses which were not initially included on the list of essential services, if they can adapt their services and workplace to the orders and recommendations of the Public Health Officer. Phase 2 of this plan, beginning in mid-May, will allow businesses such as dental, beauty, and physiotherapy services to reopen under enhanced protocols.
- School Closures: As of June 1, 2020, kindergarten to grade 12 students have the option of attending in-class instructions on a part-time basis. E-learning will continue to be available for those who opt to learn from home. The province aims to return to full-time classes in September 2020.
- Social Gatherings: On March 16th, the province announced that mass gatherings of more than 50 people are prohibited.
- Temporary Rental Supplement: The B.C. Temporary Rental Supplement Program gives tenants and landlords temporary support towards rent payments by making payments directly to the landlords of eligible households. This three-month program provides eligible low to moderate-income households up to $500 per month, until June 2020.
- Provincial Tax Deferrals: British Columbia has extended the filing and payment deadlines for the Sales Taxes and the Employer Health Tax until September 30.
We will continue to provide you with important updates as new developments continue to happen. Please reach out to the COVID-19 dedicated team at Gowling WLG for support and questions.