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COVID-19: How the federal government is supporting small business

With the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, we know you need cash flow to keep your doors open and employees paid. We’re pushing the federal government to provide the relief measures you need to keep your business alive.

So far, here’s what the federal government is doing to support small business. We will continue updating this page with the latest information as it becomes available—and continue pushing governments for greater relief.

For all the details, read the federal government’s full program.


Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The federal government will provide a 75% wage subsidy to small businesses for salaries paid since March 15. This will replace the previously announced 10% wage subsidy. More details will come soon and will be provided here.

Who is eligible?

Businesses (regardless of the number of employees), not for profit organizations and charities that experienced a 30% reduction of their revenue due to the Covid-19. More details to come.

How much can I receive?

The subsidy will cover 75% of the wage of the employee up to a maximum weekly subsidy per employee of $847. More details to come.


Tax filing & Payments

Deadline extensions

  • Individuals have until June 1, 2020, to submit their income tax return.

  • For trusts (having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019), tax filing is deferred until May 1, 2020.

Payment Deferral

Individuals and businesses will be able to defer their income tax payment (for taxes owe between March 18, 2020 and September 2020) until after August 31, 2020.

Payment deferral for GST/HST remittances

Businesses will have until June 30 to remit GST/HST due to the government. This applies to

  • Monthly filers for amount collected in February, March and April for

  • Quarterly filers for amount collected between January 1 and March 31.

  • Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalment are due in March, April or May

See more details here.

Payment deferral for customs duties remittances

Payment deadlines for customs duties and GST on imports collected in March, April, and May are being deferred to June 30.


Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

This will replace the emergency care benefit and the emergency support benefit previously announced. All Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, will be able to receive the CERB.

How much can I receive?

A flat rate of $2,000 a month for up to four months. The benefit is taxable but no tax will be taken directly from the cheque, instead it will be payable next year.

Who can apply?

The CERB will cover Canadians who:

  • Have lost their job

  • Are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19

  • Are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures

  • Are still employed, but are not receiving any income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19

The CERB will apply to:

  • Wage earners

  • Contract workers

  • Self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). This includes sole-proprietors.

Can I receive CERB and EI in the same time?

No, Canadians cannot receive EI regular and sickness benefits and CERB in the same time but:

  • Workers eligible to EI could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease (If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020).

  • Alternatively, Canadians eligible for EI could chose to receive CERB first and then access their normal EI benefits (this alternative might require more paperwork)

Can I receive benefits from my province and CERB in the same time?

Yes. For example, in Quebec you can receive the temporary aid for workers from the Quebec government and CERB from the federal government.

How do I apply?

The portal for accessing the CERB will be available in early April. Canadians will begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB will be paid every four weeks and be available until October 3, 2020.

In order to receive your benefit faster, make sure that you have signed-up for direct deposit with CRA and that the information you provided is up to date. More details here.

We will post more details on how to apply as soon as they become available.


Other CRA measures to help small businesses

  • Boosting Canada Child Benefit payments by 300$ per child

  • CRA will recognize electronic signatures as having met the signature requirements of the Income Tax Act as a temporary administrative measure.

  • Audits: No more post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks.

  • Collections: Collections activities on new debts will be suspended until further notice, and flexible payment arrangements will be available. More details here.

  • The Liaison Officer Service will be available over the phone (details to be announced). Liaison officers can help small business owners understand their tax requirements. Request a Liaison Officer here.

For more details, read the CRA Covid-19 web page.


Employment Insurance

EI sickness benefits

Regarding the EI sickness benefits:

  • The one-week waiting period is waived for 6 months for workers in imposed quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate. Application may still take several weeks.

  • There is no need for a medical certificate to apply.

Note: This may take up to a month for your employee to receive their first EI payment due to the backlog. Ensure that you do not use the ROE code K for other as it will pull it out of automatic processing.


Work Sharing Program

The Work Sharing Program is a three-way agreement that can be negotiated between Service Canada, the employer and the employee to provide EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers. Changes to the program are:

  • Extension of the maximum duration from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.

  • The 30 day wait period will be waived for only those who have used the work-sharing program in the past.


Financial Support

Government financing

  • The new Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) provides $10 billion of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges through the BDC and EDC (details to be announced). Your bank/credit union might also have solutions more targeted to your needs.

  • There’s been an increase in Farm Credit Canada, which provides credit to farmers and the agri-food sector.

  • Farmers with an outstanding Advance Payment Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will have an additional six months to repay the loan.

  • Farmers who still have interest-free loans outstanding will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $100,000 interest-free portion for 2020-2021, as long as their total APP advances remain under $1 million.

  • The government will provide increased flexibility to lenders to defer mortgage payments on homeowner government-insured mortgage loans (details to be announced).


Canada Emergency Business Account

Banks will provide interest-free loans (for the first year) of up to $40,000 to employers with $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).

Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans.

Other commitments

Banks have also made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis. They would provide:

  • Up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages

  • Opportunity for relief on other credit products

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