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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 weekly.

Federal Government Resources 


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 24 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.

Role of Employment Insurance (EI)

EI claims “in pay” continue as usual and EI Work-sharing is vastly streamlined to assist.

New legislation gives the Minister powers to modify the EI system to handle large volume of claims; individuals do not need to leave the EI system to take up the CERB. Applications will be automatically referred to the CERB. Changes to the EI program include waiving the one-week waiting period for and priority application processing for COVID-19 related claims.

For EI purposes (not CERB) it remains important that EI Records of Employment (ROEs) are correctly filled for the circumstances (e.g. quarantine/sickness, shortage of work, leave of absence). The Canadian Payments Association has provided a helpful bulletin in this regard. See below.

EI Work-sharing (WS)

EI WS helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer. Program simplification aims to reduce application approval time by two thirds, to about 10 days (simplified application, no “recovery plan,” no individual signatures, employee representative WS extension doubles to 76 weeks, no cooling off period).

Measures for Business


Applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy opened on April 27th. CEWS is a federal program that provides eligible employers a 75% wage subsidy for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. It will cover up to $847/week per employee and the program has been extended to August 29, 2020. The wage subsidy program is open to small and large businesses, including individual employers, non-profits and registered charities. Eligible employers may also be entitled to receive a 100% refund for EI and CPP contributions.  Full elgibility requirements can be found here.


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