The COVID-19 pandemic is impacting our economy in many ways as companies and organizations are being ordered to close or reduce their operations to protect public health and prevent further spread of the virus.
All levels of government are working extremely hard to activate public resources to support businesses and organizations in these extraordinary times. Keep reading to learn more about the initiatives that are underway.
If you are an individual that needs financial support, or an employer that wants to advise your employees about supports that are available, please read Financial Supports for People Impacted by COVID-19.
For Self-Employed workers:
There are two benefit programs available to self-employed individuals who have lost income due to the COVID-19 pandemic:
The CERB will provide $2,000 a month for up to 16 weeks to self-employed individuals, including independent contractors, who have stopped working and stopped earning income, or have seen a reduction in their working hours and income due to COVID-19. This includes being unable to work due to:
- Public health and emergency declarations that restrict business operations in support of social distancing
- Child care responsibilities following school and daycare closures
- Requirements by public health authorities to self-isolate (self-quarantine).
For more information on the CERB, please visit our companion blog Financial Supports for People Impacted by COVID-19.
You may be eligible for EI sickness and caregiving benefits if your registration for EI self-employment benefits was confirmed 12 months ago or longer.
If you are currently receiving the EI sickness or caregiving benefit, or became eligible for either of these before March 15th, your benefits will continue through the Employment Insurance System.
- If your EI payments end before October 3rd, 2020 and you are still unable to earn self-employment income due to COVID-19, you will be able to apply for the CERB.
If you have applied for the EI sickness or caregiving benefit since March 15th, your application will automatically be processed through the CERB.
- If you are still unable to work the end of the 16-week period covered by the CERB, and you meet the eligibility requirements for any of the other EI Special Benefits for Self-employed people, you can apply for them at that time. The 16-week CERB period will not impact the number of weeks you can receive EI payments.
For more information, visit: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/ei-self-employed-workers.html
For businesses wanting to prevent or reduce layoffs:
- If reducing the working hours of your EI-eligible employees will help to avoid layoffs, consider the Work Sharing Program. This program provides Employment Insurance benefits to employees that agree to make a formal Work Sharing agreement to reduce their hours due to circumstances beyond your control.
- If your business or organization has lost 30% or more of its revenue due to COVID-19, a new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is available to cover 75% of employee wages help prevent or reduce layoffs. Businesses, as well as non-profit organizations and charities could access up to $847 per employee each week over a three-month period, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
For businesses needing to manage cash-flow:
- Canada Revenue Agency will allow businesses to defer paying your corporate income tax balances and installment payments until after August 31, 2020.
- The Government of Alberta announced that it will freeze education tax rates at last year’s rate and allow business to defer payment for six months.
- All businesses will be able to defer payment of 2020 WCB premiums until 2021. Rebates will be available to companies that have already made their 2020 payment, and in 2021, the provincial government will cover 50% of the payment amount for small and medium-sized businesses.
- The Government of Alberta is working with utilities service providers to offer a 90-day deferral on electricity and natural gas bill payments for your farm, or small commercial enterprise. (Also available to residential customers).
- The City of Calgary will provide customers with the option to defer payments of their utility bill for up to three months for water, waste and recycling services
- Canada’s 6 largest banks, along with Alberta Treasury Branch, and local credit unions will provide flexible options for small business customers to manage financial disruptions to your business. Contact your financial institution for more information.
For businesses needing access to credit:
Between now and April 17, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) will be working with Canada’s financial institutions to roll out new loan programs for businesses to address the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on businesses. Measures include:
- Interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profits to help cover operating costs; 25% of the loan will be forgiven if the balance is paid by the end of 2022. Organizations with total payroll costs between $20,000 to $1.5 million in 2019 will be eligible to apply for this loan.
- Loan guarantee and co-lending programs for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises. Businesses could access up to $6.25 million to assist with operational cash flow and other expenses and should contact their financial institution for more information.
Public procurement opportunities to protect Canada’s health care workers:
The Government of Canada has introduced the Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19. This initiative will direct resources to business that can scale up production or redeploy equipment, facilities, or workers to manufacture the personal protective equipment (gloves, masks, surgical gowns, ventilators etc.)
Thrive, Calgary’s Community Economic Development network , is offering one-on-one support and opportunities to connect with other entrepreneurs and local business owners.
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business offers a list of frequently asked questions (FAQ) and answers for small business owners including:
- Business is slow and I don’t have enough work for my employees. What can I do about this?
- How do I complete a Record of Employment when I need to lay off employees.
- My employee is quarantined, will they be eligible for EI?
- Am I obligated to put preventive measures in place?
- My employee is invoking their “right to refuse” unsafe work – what do I do?
- My employee just came back from a region with coronavirus. What should I do?
Business Link pooled a list of resources for small businesses affect by COVID-19 covering topics like:
- Pandemic Preparedness for Business
- EI and sickness benefits
- COVID-19 and Business Insurance: How coverage is triggered
- COVID-19 Tips for Small Business
Calgary Chamber of Commerce is offering a daily webinar series, #Here4YYC, with resources, information, and support to help business owners navigate the challenges and uncertainty of these times.