If you are a small business owner, chances are that it is not business as usual for you and your team. The COVID-19 pandemic has forced many businesses to take a close look at their operation. If your business has been deemed an essential service by your province, you had to look at how you continue to operate while maintaining a safe environment for your staff and customers. If your business was not on the list of essential businesses but was still able to operate at a distance, telework and video meetings has become your new norm. For those businesses in industries that were required to temporarily close without a way to continue to work at a distance, you are probably waiting anxiously to hear about how and when your province will reopen and trying to plan for what your new norm will look like.
Both the Provincial and Federal governments have developed programs to help small business owners through this unprecedented time. Not all businesses will be approved for all programs, but if you have experienced a significant reduction in revenues, you may qualify for support for your business with the below programs.
TEMPORARY WAGE SUBSIDY
Eligible employers will receive a three-month temporary 10% wage subsidy. This will be in the form of a reduction in the total amount of payroll deductions you are required forward to the CRA. Eligible businesses must possess a business number and a payroll account with the CRA as of March 18, 2020 and must have been paying salaries, wages, bonuses, commissions to qualifying personnel.
Dates: March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020
Subsidy: 10% of the remunerations paid during the eligible period
Allowances: Maximum of $1,375 for each eligible employee. Maximum subsidy of $25,000 per employer
Application Process: No application is required; however, each employer is responsible for calculating their own permissible subsidy. The amount of the subsidy is subtracted from the payroll remittance that you send to the CRA monthly.
CANADA EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY (CEWS)
The CEWS was created for Canadians to retain their current employment by providing employers that were facing serious reductions in gross revenues. The program is set to run for 12 weeks and the subsidy will cover up to 75% of employee’s wages during this time. Qualifying employers will also be eligible to receive a 100% refund for specific employer contributions to CPP, EI, QPP, and QPI for employees that are on leave with pay.
Dates: March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020
Subsidy: 75% of an employee’s wages during the eligible period. Gross revenues must have dropped by a minimum 15% in March and 30% in April and May.
Allowances: Maximum of $847 per employee per week. If you are eligible for the Temporary 10% wage subsidy, the amount of your benefit from that program will be subtracted from the amount you are eligible under CEWS for the same period.
Application Process: The quickest way to apply is by using the CRA My Business Account. Take advantage of the calculator tool to determine your subsidy amount to simplify the application process. We also suggest setting up direct deposit with your payroll account to get access to the subsidy quicker.
CANADIAN EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT (CEBA)
This interest-free loan is intended to assist small businesses and not-for-profits cover their daily operating expenses during the time of reduced revenues. To qualify for the up to $40,000 loan, you must have paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in payroll for 2019.
Dates: Application process is now open, if the balance of the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022, 25% of your loan will be forgiven.
Allowances: Up to $40,000 loan
Application Process: Applications are submitted through the banking institution associated with your main business account.
CANADIAN EMERGENCY COMMERCIAL RENT ASSISTANCE (CECRA)
The CECRA has not been implemented yet, but the federal and provincial governments are collaborating to provide commercial rent relief to those businesses hardest hit by the COVID-19 crisis. The program will provide landlords with qualifying commercial properties forgivable loans that will cover 50% of the rent for a 3 month period, if the landlord agrees to reduce the rent by 25% during this period, effectively leaving the eligible small business owner to cover 25% of their rent for April, May, and June.
Dates: Expected to be operational by mid- May and apply to April, May, and June rent.
Allowances: To qualify, a tenant you must be paying less than $50,000 in rent per month, and have experienced a minimum 70% drop in pre-COVID revenues.
Application Process: Full details are not available yet, but it will be the landlord’s responsibility to apply for the CECRA in support of their tenants.
The above highlighted programs are just a few of the available programs developed by the Federal and Provincial governments to support small businesses. For a full list of available programs visit Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. Whether you qualify for any of the above programs or not, we suggest you consult with your accountant and financial advisor to better understand your expenses, available cash and to build a financial plan that will assist you as you navigate this challenging time.