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COVID-19: Business Resources

CPHR BC & Yukon would like to provide the HR and business community the following info on COVID-19 resources that they may be eligible for. This page will be updated regularly.

Federal Government Resources 

CERB

The Canadian Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) replaces the previously announced Emergency Care and Emergency Support Benefits. The CERB provides temporary income support to workers who are without employment or self-employment income related to COVID-19.

The benefit is for workers residing in Canada (EI eligible or not), at least age 15, who earned at least $5,000 in 2019 from employment, self-employment, EI maternity and parental and/or similar in Quebec (QPIP).

Applicants must be without employment or self-employment for at least 14 consecutive days in a four-week period for COVID-19 reasons which include if temporarily stopped working, lost job, sick or in quarantine, or caring for a child or a family member.

The legislation excludes ‘voluntary quits.’

The benefit will provide a flat amount of $2,000 a month, paid in four week installments, for up to 28 weeks. The benefit is available until October 3, 2020 and retroactive to March 15, 2020, and will be paid within 3–5 days for applying for direct payment. Applications can be made on the Service Canada website as of April 6.

Transitioning to a New Employment Insurance (EI)

Begining on September 27, 2020, people who are currently receiving the CERB benefit and continue to be out of work will be transitioned to a new EI program. And remember,  CERB payments are made at the beginning of a pay period while typically EI payments are made at the end of a pay period.

New EI Program Summary 

Insurable Hours Credit

Prior to the pandemic a person would have needed to work a certain number of insurable hours in the year prior to their application or since their last EI claim. The Federal Government has lowered the required number of insurable hours by granting people claiming EI (prior or post CERB) a one-time credit of 300 insurable hours for regular benefits and 480 insurable hours for special benefits. People claiming EI can qualify for regular or special benefits with a minimum of 120 hours of insurable work. Special benefits include sickness, maternity, parental, compassionate care, or family caregiver benefits.

The insurable hours credit will be available retroactive to March 15, 2020 and will be available to new EI claimants for one year.

How EI will be calculated  

The Federal Government has set a standard minimum unemployment rate of 13.1 per cent for the purposes of calculating access to EI benefits. The reason behind this decision is so the Federal Government can standardize benefits across the country in order to provide a minimum entitlement of 26 weeks of regular EI benefits and use a person’s 14 “best weeks” of earnings in order to calculate their benefit rate. It also allows the program to set the insurable hours at the minimum of 420 hours which, when combined with the hours credit, allows people to qualify for EI benefits with only 120 hours of insurable work.

Minimum Benefits Rate & Premium Rate Freeze

People who file  a new EI claims as of September 27, 2020, will receive a minimum weekly benefit rate of $400 dollars per-week or $240 dollars per-week for extended parental benefits.

The Federal Government is also freezing EI premium rates at the current 2020 rate for the next two years. For employers who pay 1.4 times the employee rate, the rate will remain unchanged at $2.21 per $100 of insurable earnings.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period.

If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

For more info and to apply, visit the Government of Canada website.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit – Employee Sick Leave 

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you are eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period.

If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

For more info and to apply, visit the Government of Canada website.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. This applies if their school, regular program or facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19, or because they are sick, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health complications due to COVID-19. The CRCB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you are eligible for the CRCB, your household can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period.

If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 26 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

People may be eligible for this benefit if they are unable to work for at least 60% of their normally scheduled work because they must care for a child who is under 12 years of age, a family member with a disability, or a dependent because of the following reasons:

  • Their school, daycare, day program, or care facility is closed or operates under an alternative schedule for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic
  • They cannot attend their school, daycare, day program, or care facility under the advice of a medical professional due to being at high risk if they contract COVID-19
  • The caregiver who usually provides care is not available for reasons related to the COVID-19 pandemic

For more info and to apply, visit the Government of Canada website.

Measures for Business

CEWS

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy was put in place for an initial 12-week period from March 15 to June 6, 2020, providing a 75 per cent wage subsidy to eligible employers. On May 15, 2020, the government announced a 12-week extension, to August 29, 2020. On July 17, 2020, the government unveiled a redesign allowing more employers to access wage subsidy support while ensuring that support is better targeted to their needs, and proposed a further extension to December 19, 2020.

On November 19, 2020 the government extend the wage subsidy program until June 2021 and implement other enhancements to the program to better respond to the evolving economic and health situation. These proposed changes will make the program more flexible and more generous, and ensure that the program provides continued support to employers.

The wage subsidy program is open to small and large businesses, including individual employers, non-profits and registered charities. Full eligibility requirements and a calculator tool can be found here.

CERS

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, CERS, which replaces the federal government’s Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program, will provide support for qualifying businesses. The new CERS program allows tenants to apply directly to the federal government. Under the new program, organizations that have seen a decline of 70 per cent or more in their revenues because of the pandemic are eligible for a 65 per cent rent subsidy. The subsidy rate declines gradually for organizations that have seen declines below 70 cent. The federal government uses formulas to calculate the decline in the subsidy rate. An organization that lost 50 per cent of revenues, for example, would get a 40 per cent subsidy, while one that saw revenues drop 25 per cent would get a 20 per cent subsidy. There is no minimum revenue drop required to qualify for the subsidy.

Also included in the CERS is lockdown support to a maximum of 25 percent, for businesses who have been forced to close due to public health restrictions and orders. For an organization to qualify for  lockdown support, the following conditions must apply:

  • the organization qualifies for the base Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy; and
  • the public health order requires that the organization
    • completely shut down the location; or,
    • cease some or all of the activities at the location and it is reasonable to conclude that the ceased activities, in the appropriate pre-pandemic prior reference period, were responsible for at least approximately 25 per cent of the revenues of the entity at that location.

For more info and to apply, visit the Government of Canada website.

CECRA (PROGRAM ENDED Sept. 30, 2020)

The federal government announced the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program on April 24th. This program aims at assisting small businesses with their rent payments for the months of April, May, June and July by reducing rent by 75% for small businesses that pay less than $50,000/month in rent and have been severely impacted by COVID-19. To be eligible, businesses must have ceased operations or experienced at least 70% decrease in revenues. More information can be found here.

In addition, the government announced the following:

  • Allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June 30th, as well as customs duties owed for imports.
  • A Canada Emergency Business Account. This program will provide up to $55 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans to small businesses. Eligible businesses with a total payroll of $50,000 to $1 million in 2019 can apply for a government guaranteed loan of up to $40,000 to help pay for operating expenses, payroll and other non deferrable expenses which are critical to sustain business continuity. Up to $10,000 of that amount will be eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022. Please contact your financial institution to find our more about their application process.
  • A  Small and Medium-sized Enterprioan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank, for guaranteed loans when small businesses go to their financial institutions to help weather the impacts of COVID-19. This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements.
  • Changes to Canada Summer Jobs program – The government announced temporary changes that will provide employers a wage subsidy of up to 100% to hire summer staff and provide employment for young Canadians (between 15 – 30 years of age).

Provincial Government Resources (BC)

Tax Remittance Deferrals

The provincial government is extending tax filing and payment deadlines to September 30th, 2020 to help businesses through this crisis.

ESA Amendment:

To ease financial hardship on businesses and to keep employees connected with their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, government has extended the temporary layoff period to 16 weeks for COVID-19 related reasons. Previously under the Employment Standards Act, a temporary layoff longer than 13 weeks in any 20-week period was considered a permanent layoff.

BC’S Restart Plan

The BC Restart Plan takes a phased approach to mitigate the impacts of COVID-19. Each phase provides guidance for individuals and businesses. Everyone is free to go at their own pace as we move between phases, as long as they follow the guidance and orders of the Provincial Health Officer. Businesses and organizations may not follow the same timelines for reopening and expanding interactions.

WorkSafe BC: Returning to Safe Operation Guidelines

WorkSafeBC recognizes the importance of worker safety as businesses look to resume operations following COVID-19 related work stoppages or interruptions and we move into Phases 2 and 3 of BC’s Restart Plan. The following materials provide employers with information and resources to assist them in ensuring the risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19 is minimized at their workplace.

Helpful links

(Please note: program details are evolving rapidly. Please make sure you have the most up to date information by going to Canada.ca)