COVID-19 UPDATE

(Last Updated on 2020-04-01)

 

Both the Federal and Provincial Governments have made announcements that they will be making funds available to support businesses during the COVID-19 Pandemic. The information below outlines the programs announced by the Federal Government. Niagara Economic Development is part of a larger team of economic development offices in Niagara. You can contact your local Economic Development Offices within the following communities:

If you are not within a municipality with an economic development office please contact Niagara Region directly at ERRT@niagararegion.ca

Local governments have announced responses to the COVID-19 crisis. The current policies are:

  • The City of Port Colborne has approved exemptions for penalty and interest charges until April 30 for tax, water, and wastewater payments.
  •  The City of St. Catharines will not charge late fees or interest penalties on water bills, tax payments, and accounts receivables until June 30. The City has also suspended parking fees for on-street parking and municipal lots.
  •  The City of Niagara Falls has waived penalty charges for current year property taxes, water bills, and accounts receivable (billed in 2020) until June 30.
  •  The City of Thorold has waived penalties and NSF fees on water and wastewater bills, and current year taxes until June 30, 2020.
  •  The City of Welland has waived penalties for late payments on water and wastewater bills and on taxes until May 30, 2020.
  •  The Town of Lincoln has waived penalties for late payments on water and wastewater bills, accounts receivable, and on taxes until June 30, 2020.
  • The Town of Fort Erie has waived late fees and penalties on water billings and taxes levied in 2020. Further, no late fees will be imposed on business licenses and payment will be waived for on-street parking or in a municipal parking lot. This policy will be in effect until June 30, 2020.
  • The Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake has waived the following fees until June 30, 2020: Penalty or interest charges related to current 2020-year taxes, water charges and accounts receivable; non-sufficient funds (NSF) fee charged by the Town for any returned items; penalty or interest charges related to parking tickets from March 15 to June 30; expired permit parking passes; and, no penalty for opting out or taking a pause from the pre-authorized payment program.
  • The Town of Grimsby has approved the following financial supports during the COVID-19 outbreak: waive penalty and interest charges on current (2020) taxes that are past due from May 1 until June 30, 2020. The Town will also be waiving the following charges from April 1 until June 30, 2020:  penalty charges on past due water accounts; interest charges on past due accounts receivable; and waive NSF charges on tax and water payments. The Town will continue to process pre-authorized payments for taxes and water on their regular billing schedule. Those that wish to be remove from pre-authorized payments should contact the Town.
  • The Town of Pelham Town is waiving penalty and interest charged on April 1 ,2020 for tax and water/wastewater balances outstanding on March 31, 2020, at which time further assessment will be reviewed and further recommendations made as necessary. The pre-authorized payment program will continue for tax and water billings. Pre-authorized payment plans are encouraged to help spread tax payments over 10 or 12 months. Non sufficient funds charges will be waived for April.
  • The Township of West Lincoln from March 17 to May 31, 2020 will waive the penalty for non-payment or late payment of taxes levied and charged in 2020; the penalty and any other associated fees for non-payment or late payment of water bills issued in 2020; the penalty on Accounts Receivable amounts past due; NSF (non-sufficient funds) charges; and, Water services will not be disconnected for non-payment of the first quarterly water bills, which will be due on May 1st, 2020.

Employment Ontario Providers

Employment Ontario Providers in Niagara are continuing to provide services to employers, their employees, and job seekers throughout these unprecedented times. All EO agencies in Niagara are open for virtual business. Services/supports that EO are continuing to provide include:

  • Assisting employers struggling with staff shortages – as workforce is depleted due to child care/school closures and sick leave.
  • Providing guidance to those workers seeking to file online EI claims.
  • Assistance with providing consultation to employee groups being temporarily laid off  – seeking basic need supports, mental health services/referrals and the like. All EO agencies are well versed in community supports that employees may need to access during the lay off period.

To apply for Employment Insurance online please visit Employment and Social Development Canada’s Employment Insurance Benefits.

Please reach out to any of the EO Providers listed below for assistance:

CERF Niagara (Francophone Provider)

Employment Help Centre (Niagara Falls)

  • Janet Adams
  • 905-358-0021 ext 31

Employment Help Centre West Niagara (Grimsby, Beamsville, & Smithville)

Employment Solutions (Welland)

John Howard Society Niagara Job Gym (Welland & Fort Erie)

Niagara College Community Employment Services (St. Catharines)

Port Cares Employment Services (Port Colborne)

YMCA of Niagara Employment and Immigrant Services (St. Catharines, Niagara Falls, & Thorold)


Government Introduces Canada Emergency Response Benefit to Help Workers and Businesses

The Federal Government has announced Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB will be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit. Given this situation, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, will be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.


The Province has released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19

The Action Plan includes a number of initiatives to support Businesses during this crisis:

  • Helping families pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.
  • Supporting more affordable electricity bills for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers, by providing approximately $5.6 billion for electricity cost relief programs in 2020-21, which is an increase of approximately $1.5 billion compared to the 2019 Budget plan.
  • Further supporting more affordable electricity bills by setting electricity prices for residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage as they respond to the COVID-19 outbreak, addressing concerns about time-of-use metering. Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption.
  • Providing $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID-19 outbreak.

The government’s plan also includes measures that will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flows over the coming months, including:

  • Making available $6 billion by providing five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.
  • Over $1.8 billion by deferring the upcoming June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, which will provide municipalities the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals to residents and businesses, while ensuring school boards continue to receive their funding.
  • Making available $1.9 billion by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months.

Stop the Spread Business Information Line Now Open at 1-888-444-3659

The province has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Ontario Together: help fight Coronavirus

The Province of Ontario has issued a call to all businesses and organizations that can help provide services, support, and solutions to the following:

  • virtual mental health services for people who are vulnerable or living in remote communities
  • supply chain resiliency monitoring
  • financial planning and advising for small businesses that can be delivered online at low-cost including advice about relief programs

For more information please visit the Province’s web page: Ontario Together

The Province of Ontario has ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces to fight the spread of COVID-19. For more information please visit the Province of Ontario. For a list of essential workplaces the Government of Ontario has provided a list at: https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/3/list-of-essential-workplaces.html.

Ontario Providing Electricity Relief to Families, Small Businesses and Farms During COVID-19

To support Ontarians through the rapidly evolving COVID-19 situation, the Government of Ontario is providing immediate electricity rate relief for families, small businesses and farms paying time-of-use (TOU) rates.

For a 45-day period, the government is working to suspend time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour. This reduced price will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week to all time-of-use customers, who make up the majority of electricity consumers in the province. By switching to a fixed off-peak rate, time-of-use customers will see rate reductions of over 50 per cent compared to on-peak rates.


The Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses, plus $55 billion to meet liquidity needs of Canadian businesses and households through tax deferrals to help stabilize the economy. For more detailed information please go to:

Resources for Canadian Business: COVID-19

Temporary Wage Subsidy for Small Businesses

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months.

Direct support to businesses

The subsidy will be equal to 75% of remuneration paid during that period. Wage subsidies will be backdated to March 15, 2020.

Eligibility

Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

Modifications to the Canada Account

The Canada Account is administered by Export Development Canada (EDC) and is used by the government to support exporters when deemed to be in the national interest.

Direct support to businesses

Modifications will allow the government to provide additional support to Canadian companies through loans, guarantees or insurance policies during these challenging times.

Eligibility

All businesses

Flexibility for Filing Taxes

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020.  This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

Direct support to businesses

The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

The Liaison Officer service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.

Eligibility

Largely small to medium sized businesses will benefit the most from this relief

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

An effective tool for helping viable Canadian businesses remain resilient during these very uncertain times. BDC and EDC are cooperating with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation and tourism.

Direct support to businesses

Allows the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support to businesses. The near term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.

Eligibility

Small and Medium-sized businesses

Farmers and the agri-food sector

Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP)

Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC).

Direct support to businesses

This will provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders and support continued lending to Canadian businesses and consumers. CMHC stands ready to further support liquidity and the stability of the financial markets through its mortgage funding programs as necessary.

Eligibility

Supports all businesses


Employment and Social Development Canada

Employment Insurance

Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.

If you are eligible, visit the EI sickness benefits page to apply.

Service Canada is ready to support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:

  • The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim
  • Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support enquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period
  • People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate
  • People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay

Work-Sharing Program

The Work-Sharing program is implementing temporary special measures to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19. The new temporary special measures are available to employers impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The measures allows for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19. The temporary special measures will:

  • extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks
  • wave the mandatory waiting period between agreements
  • ease the recovery plan requirements

Access the Work-Sharing page to learn more about the program and its requirements.

Access the Work-Sharing temporary special measures page to find out if you are eligible for temporary special measures.


Business Development Bank of Canada

These new measures aim to alleviate the impact of COVID-19 on business activity and complement services offered by other financial institutions, with whom BDC will continue working. For BDC, eligible businesses needed to be financially viable entities prior to the impact of the coronavirus.

Effective March 18, 2020, new relief measures for qualified businesses include:

  • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months for qualifying businesses;
  • 12 months interest only payments;
  • Postponement of payments for up to 6 months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less;
  • Reduced rates on new eligible loans;
  • Additional details regarding Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) measures, including industry specific support, to be announced in the coming days.

$100K or LESS needed?

Please contact the Business Development Bank of Canada directly for more information:

https://www.bdc.ca/en/pages/special-support.aspx?special-initiative=covid19