Updated: Mar 29
(updated March 29, 2020)
Levstein, Azan, Barristers & Solicitors send our support to all the families and small businesses who are affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). We are providing consultations and assistance with government financial applications. The information below will be updated periodically as it changes.
Please note, we are still open for business and providing all of our services electronically as applicable. As real estate lawyers, we will especially stay open during the coronavirus for all real estate closings. We are also providing discounts on wills and estate planning given the circumstances.
On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister announced the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.
On March 17, Ontario Premier Doug Ford declared a State of Emergency in Ontario. Premier Ford also announced that all non-essential businesses should close at midnight on March 24, 2020. A full list of non-essential/essential businesses is provided here.
On March 27, the Prime Minister announced that the government would be providing more aid for small businesses. The final details should be provided before the end of the month.
SMALL BUSINESS SUPPORT
In an effort to help all those small businesses impacted by the virus, the Canadian Government plans to do the following:
Provide a formal announcement on its 75% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses. This subsidy will extend up to 3 months and is retroactive to March 15, 2020.
Allow small businesses and self-employed individuals to defer all Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) payments until June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. The government believes that this will act as an interest-free loan to help businesses continue to pay their employees.
Launch the new Canada Emergency Business Account, which will make up to $25 billion available for banking institutions to provide interest-free loans to small businesses. These loans will be interest-free for a "soon-to-be specified" amount of time—helping businesses continue to cover their costs for the months that they are impacted.
Launch the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program, which will provide another $40 billion in lending. This additional lending will be available to small and medium-sized companies that require more assistance based on their operational cash flow requirements.
In those unfortunate cases where businesses are still facing cash-flow issues, businesses are permitted to temporarily lay off employees for up to 13 weeks. However, after 13 weeks, the layoff becomes permanent and severance pay rules will apply.
There are two options for individuals: (1) Employment insurance or (2) Emergency Support.
Individuals who paid into employment insurance and worked more than 600 hours last year can apply for employment insurance here or by calling 1-833-381-2755. This benefit can provide you with up to 15 weeks of financial assistance if you cannot work for medical reasons. You could receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week.
If you are eligible for this benefit, there is no waiting period (you can apply immediately). For the COVID 19 pandemic, EI has waived its usual one-week waiting period, as well as the need for a medical certificate.
More information is available: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
Even if you do not qualify for EI, you nevertheless are likely eligible for the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This benefit was announced on March 25 and provides $2000 per month for up to 4 months for workers who fit into the various criteria, including those workers who are sick, quarantined, taking care of someone who is sick, or who have been asked not to come to work.
The CERB will be accessible through a secure web portal starting in early April. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number.
In addition, the federal government has provided for a new GST special payment (up to $400 per individual and $600 per couple). There is also an additional $300 per child Canada Child Benefit available.
More information can be found on the government’s website. We are happy to provide consultations or assistance with relief applications. If you have any specific questions, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.