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COVID-19: Government Supports for Business

20 March 2020

Updated: March 31, 2020

The economic impacts of COVID-19 are unparalleled in their scope and severity, and they come at a precarious time for our province. Businesses across the province have already done all they can to survive since the economic downturn began in 2014, and they are now faced with yet another challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

As businesses in Edmonton, Calgary and across Alberta grapple with the impacts of the pandemic, the Edmonton and Calgary Chambers of Commerce are banding together to ensure governments are providing the supports our members need to withstand this storm, and to ensure our members can access the supports being made available.

Below we have summarized the key announcements from the federal and provincial governments over the last several days, and provided details where businesses can access these supports. The supports provided to date help business focus on ensuring access to capital now, cutting fixed costs, and supporting your employees.

All levels of government and the Calgary and Edmonton Chambers are focused on stabilization right now. We will get through this crisis together, as a business community, and we will continue to update this page as needed to provide you with the most accurate and up-to-date information to continue to navigate these uncertain times.

Should you have any further questions or need to talk, please reach out and email us at policy@edmontonchamber.com or membership@calgarychamber.com. We will also reach out to you directly in the coming days.

Together, we’re #Here4YEG and #Here4YYC.

 

Supports Now Available:

Mental Health

  1. Alberta Health Services directory of mental health resources (details).
  2. Canadian Mental Health – Crisis Services (details)

City of Edmonton


Cutting fixed costs:

  1. Effective March 21, 2020, parking fees in the EPark parking system, curbside and in City of Edmonton lots, will be suspended. This will encourage safe movement around the city. (details)
  2. No late penalties will be charged to property tax payments made by September 30. In regular circumstances, interest would be charged for accounts not paid by July 30. More information will be available before tax notices are mailed in May. (details)
  3. Utility payments deferral: The City is working with the Alberta Utility Commission and utility partners on a deferral program and has recommended a deferral period of March 18 to June 18, 2020. The City is committed to ensuring no interest or fees are charged and no utilities are cut off during this period, even for customers in arrears. (details)


Using your business to flatten the curve:

  1. City of Edmonton’s One-on-One Support for Edmonton’s Businesses can be reached at businessinfo@edmonton.ca (details)

Government of Alberta

On the afternoon of March 27, the Government of Alberta has required the immediate closure of several kinds of businesses, including: dine-in restaurants, cafes and bars; personal close contact services; wellness studios; non-emergency and non-critical medical services; retail, clothing and gaming stores, including book stores, hobby stores and antique stores. Food take-out and delivery, and online shopping and curb-side pick-up are still permitted. These measures are in addition to previously imposed restrictions on recreation and entertainment businesses. (details)

 

Ensuring access to capital now:

  1. ATB is deferring required payments for loans and lines of credit for 90 days, and making extra working capital available to businesses. (details)
    • Business members of credit unions should contact their credit union directly to work out a plan for their personal situation

 

Cutting fixed costs:

  1. Hotels and other lodging providers can delay paying the tourism levy until Aug. 31 for amounts that become due to government on or after today. This will free up more than $5 million in additional cash flow for employers – money that can be used to retain staff, maintain operations and continue providing a valuable service. (details)
  2. Provincial corporate tax payments and instalment payments are not required until August 31st. (details)
  3. Residential, farm and small commercial utility customers can defer payments for the next 90 days without being cut off. Call your utility provider directly to arrange for a 90-day deferral on all payments.
  4. Customers of Alberta credit unions will have options to defer loan payments and boost short-term cash flow.
  5. WCB premiums have been deferred until early 2020, and the Government of Alberta will cover 50% of WCB premiums for SMEs. Previously paid 2020 WCB premiums will be refunded to businesses upon request. (details)

 

Support for your employees:

  1. Provincial personal tax payments and instalment payments are not required until August 31st. (details)
  2. Any Albertan in self-isolation who is without EI benefits will be eligible for a one time emergency payment of $1,146.00 for emergency isolation support. (details)
  3. Changes to the Employment Standards Code will allow full and part-time employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are required to self-isolate, or caring for a child or dependent adult that is required to self-isolate. (details)
    • To be eligible, employees will not be required to have a medical note, and do not need to have worked for an employer for 90 days.
  4. Alberta student loan payments are deferred interest-free for six months.
  5. Effective immediately, tenants cannot be evicted for non-payment of rent and/or utilities before May 1. Rents will not increase while Alberta’s state of public health emergency remains in effect. Late fees cannot be applied to late rent payments for the next three months. Landlords and tenants need to work together to develop payment plans while the state of public health emergency is in effect.
    • These protections are for residential renters and landlords only. No changes have been made to commercial renters or landlords. (details)

 

Using your business to flatten the curve:

  1. The Alberta Emergency Management Agency has created an "Unsolicited Offers Program" allowing individuals and organizations to fill out an online form detailing what services they have to offer. If you are interested in offering assistance that you or your organization may be able to provide, consider visiting their website at ca/COVID19offersprogram

Government of Canada

 

Ensuring access to capital now:

  1. The new Canada Emergency Business Account (guaranteed by government) will provide each business with a $40,000 loan. The loan will be interest-free for the first year, and the first $10,000 will be forgivable under some conditions (if paid off by Dec 31, 2022). To qualify, businesses need to show between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. This is worth $25 billion. (details)
  2. $12.5 billion in additional funding will be provided to EDC and BDC to help small and medium businesses.
  3. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) will be administering the Business Credit Availability Program, which will provide $10 billion of supports to small and mid-sized businesses. (BDC details) (EDC details)
    • BDC Purchase order financing: Cover up to 90% of the purchase order amount to ease cash flow to your suppliers. (details)
  4. EDC will provide loans, guarantees and insurance policies for exporters through the Canada Account, and added flexibility has introduced to increase the size of the Canada Account as needed.
  5. The federal Work-Sharing program is expanded from 38 to 76 weeks, and processes are being streamlined to make access to this program easier. (details) (application)
  6. Increased credit is available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada (details)
  7. Tourism operators and SMEs impacted by the sudden shifts in the economy who need pressing assistance can contact Western Economic Diversification for help with access to federal funding, advice and pathfinding services to other federal programs and services. (details) (WED)
  8. For any CRA objection request due March 18 or later, the deadline is effectively extended until June 30, 2020. (details)

 

Cutting fixed costs:

  1. GST and HST payments, and customs duties on imports will be deferred until the end of June, which will allow businesses to keep and use about $30 billion in operating funds.
  2. Federal corporate tax payments and instalment payments are not required until August 31st. (details)
    • Due date for filing federal income taxes has been pushed back to June 1st.
  3. Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy: The previously announced 10% wage subsidy will be increased to 75% of wage to qualifying businesses for all businesses, not just SMEs. The benefit will be backdated to March 15. (details)
    • It covers 75% of up to $58,700 (same as maximum pensionable income), up to $847 per week, backdated to March 15. The 25% employer top-up is optional.
    • The benefit will be for those businesses with decreased revenues by 30% or more as a result of COVID-19. Decreased revenues will be assessed after fact. Will require repayment if the drop is less than 30%.
    • The number of employees does not matter. The benefit applies to non-profits, companies of all sizes.
    • The benefit will provide $847 per week maximum whether a business is open or not
  4. CRA is suspending audit interactions with businesses for four weeks.

 

Support for your employees:

  1. 12 million low- and modest-income families will receive $5.5 billion through a one-time GST credit. This will mean payments of roughly $400 for an individual and $600 for couples.
  2. Maximum Canada Child Benefit payments will increase by $300 per child in May.
  3. Canada Student Loans payments will be deferred interest-free for six months.
  4. Canada Emergency Response Benefit (to become available on or after April 6) provides $2,000 per month for four months, directly available to those who have lost income due to COVID-19. This is available to part-time and full-time wage earners, contract workers, self-employed people and small business owners who would not be otherwise eligible for EI. This benefit replaces the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.(details)
  5. Federal EI benefits allow up to 15 weeks of assistance if a person cannot work due to medical reasons such as self-isolation or self-quarantine. The one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance benefits has been waived. (details)

 

Using your business to flatten the curve:

  1. The Government of Canada is calling on Canadian manufacturers and businesses that can assist Canada in meeting the need for medical supplies (e.g., masks, ventilators, hand sanitizer). Support for re-tooling, scale-up and other needs is available. (details)
  2. Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19? Canada wants to hear from you. Products: Disposable N95 masks, Disposable surgical masks, Nitrile gloves, Vinyl gloves, Gowns Bottles of hand sanitizer, Other prevention products. Services: Guard/security services, Nursing services, Food services, Laundry services, Accommodation maintenance services, Personal services, IT support services, Other services. https://buyandsell.gc.ca/calling-all-suppliers-help-canada-combat-covid-19
  3. New expeditated innovative procurement streams will allow more businesses to develop solutions and products for COVID-19 as soon as possible.

 

In the Days Ahead

The Edmonton and Calgary Chambers of Commerce are pleased to see all orders of government working together to help our communities withstand this unprecedented economic and social crisis. We also know that more needs to be done to ensure that businesses don’t just survive the COVID-19 crisis, but that they emerge with enough strength and capacity to withstand the economic impacts of global oil prices collapsing for the second time in six years. We will continue to advocate for stronger supports, and reducing the red tape that makes it difficult for businesses to access these supports.

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