LAST UPDATED: June 25, 2020
Federal student service grant unveiled today
Eligible students can receive grants of between $1,000 to $5,000, depending on hours completed. The program was originally announced more than two months ago.
Post-secondary students will be eligible to earn up to $5,000 this summer through a new volunteer service grant. The grant is available for a range of volunteer work, including mask making, tutoring, researching animal behaviour and designing exercise programs for seniors.
The grant will be worth between $1,000 and $5,000, depending on the number of hours completed. For every 100 hours worked, a student is eligible for $1,000, which means someone must volunteer 500 hours to receive the full grant.
The program opens today and runs until Oct. 31, 2020. Only students and recent graduates 30 years old and younger can enrol.
To qualify, an individual must be enrolled part-time or full-time in a recognized post-secondary education program in the spring, summer or fall of 2020, or must have completed post-secondary studies in December 2019 or later.
Back in April, Trudeau announced the creation of the Canada student service grant — a way of giving students who can't find summer jobs a chance to earn some money while volunteering in "national service" activities related to fighting the pandemic.
CRA tip line flooded with 3,300 leads on suspected emergency aid cheats
Canada's tax agency has received more than 3,300 tips on suspected abuse of emergency aid programs designed to help the people and businesses taking a financial hit during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The number of tips about possible fraud involving the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), the wage subsidy program and student COVID-19 aid is growing fast. As of May 31, the Canada Revenue Agency had received 600 tips; just over a week later, that number had swelled to 1,300.
Canadians already have made 361,000 repayments for CERB aid they weren't eligible for. That's up from 190,000 as of June 3. CRA said repayments were made in cases where applicants received a double payment for the same period, were not actually eligible for the benefit or returned to work earlier than expected.
CRA would not say how many claims have been found to be fraudulent.
Fitch Downgrades Canada's Ratings to 'AA+'; Outlook Stable
Fitch Ratings has downgraded Canada's credit rating to AA+ from AAA, citing the federal government's move to borrow about a quarter of a trillion dollars to prop the economy up during the pandemic lockdown. Fitch Ratings, Moody's and S&P Global Ratings are considered to be the three big credit rating agencies in the U.S.
Fitch last confirmed Canada's rating in July of last year. S&P Global Ratings and Moody's both still have Canada listed as top tier borrowers. S&P Global Ratings last confirmed Canada's rating in November of last year, while Moody's last confirmation came in May of this year.
Fitch said that while it is downgrading Canada's rating, it expects Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio to stabilize over the medium term before the economy gradually starts recovering with the help of monetary and fiscal stimulus. Fitch predicts Canada's pandemic response will increase its consolidated gross general government debt to 115.1 per cent of GDP in 2020, up from 88.3 per cent of GDP in 2019.
A Fitch spokesperson said that to come up with that figure, the company added together Canada's "federal, provincial and territorial, local and other governmental debt liabilities" and subtracted from that amount the value of the Canada Pension Plan and Quebec's Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, which manages several public pension plans. The number does not include unfunded pension liabilities.
Fitch said it expects Canada's debt-to-GDP ratio to stabilize at about 120 to 121 per cent sometime between 2022 and 2024. The report said Fitch has confidence in Canada's economic recovery in 2021 because of the advanced, well-diversified and high-income nature of its national economy. It also cites Canada's political stability, strong governance and policies that have "delivered steady growth and low inflation."
Full Report Available Here
Federal Government Extends Time Periods Given To Employers To Recall Employees Laid Off Due To COVID-19
Prior to these changes, employers could temporarily layoff their employees for up to three months if no notice with a recall date was provided or for a period of up to six months if they provided a notice with an expected recall date before the layoff became a termination. The amendments, which are set out in the Canada Labour Standards Regulations, temporarily extend these time periods by up to six months:
For employees laid off prior to March 31, 2020, the time period is extended by six months or to December 30, 2020, whichever occurs first.
For employees laid off between March 31, 2020 and September 30, 2020, the time period is extended until December 30, 2020 unless a later recall date was provided in a written notice at the time of the layoff.
These changes, which came into effect on June 22, 2020, do not apply to employees who are covered by a collective agreement that contains recall rights.
Communications Guide And Template Signage For Businesses Reopening
This communications guide was originally published as part of our in-depth CBRN Reopening Toolkit for Business. By popular request, the communications guide and template signage (including ready-to-print signs) are now available in a stand-alone format. Please feel free to share this resource with your networks.
Access The Guide
Health Canada posts recalls for three more hand sanitizer products
Health Canada has added more hand sanitizer products to their growing recall list. The agency first announced recalls of some hand sanitizer products on June 6
due to the presence of industrial-grade ethanol, and has continued to update the list
throughout the month.
The following hand sanitizers were added to the recall list on Monday
• Gel Antiseptique Pour Les Mains, made by Megalab Inc.
• Germzero, made by Flash Beaute Inc.
• Tekare Instant Hand Cleanser Gel, made by TEKPolymer Inc.
The contaminant listed for these products is ethyl acetate. According to Health Canada, industrial-grade ethanol is harsher than the type of ethanol that has been approved for use in hand sanitizers in Canada. Industrial-grade ethanol also could contain extra chemicals not suited for use in hand sanitizers.
A list of hand sanitizers
approved for sale in Canada, as well as a list of similar products
that have been accepted under COVID-19 interim measures can be found on Health Canada’s website.
Eight more weeks of CERB to cost $17.9 billion, budget officer says
The parliamentary budget officer estimates in a new report that it will cost the federal government $17.9 billion to provide eight extra weeks of payments through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. The report this morning from budget officer Yves Giroux says that would bring the total cost of the benefit program for people who've lost all or nearly all their work to the COVID-19 pandemic to $71.3 billion.
The CERB, now budgeted at $60 billion, has paid out $43.51 billion to 8.41 million people as of June 4 as demand surged past federal expectations.
With the first cohort of CERB applicants set to hit the 16-week limit on the payments early next month, the Liberals have promised to increase the limit to 24 weeks to provide help through the summer for those who need it.
Giroux's report says the additional cost to the program depends heavily on the outlook for the economy and jobs, as well as the course of the pandemic.
Update on Federal PPE procurement
Public Services and Procurement Minister Anita Anand and Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains spoke at today’s briefing to provide an update on the government’s supply procurement efforts. Last week, Canada received nine cargo planes with supplies of gowns, gloves and masks. This brings the total to 78 plane loads of supplies received to date since the start of the pandemic. A 13th shipment of hand sanitizer has arrived in Vancouver and the government continues to receive 500,000 N95 masks from 3M on a monthly basis. This amount is in addition to a larger order that 3M is providing to provincial and territorial health systems. In other good news on this front, CAE is set to begin shipping made-in-Canada ventilators every week to the government following recent receipt of its accreditation. Minister Anand remarked that as COVID-19 restrictions begin to ease, the government will be returning to competitive procurement processes where needed.
Forecast says economy will grow in 2021 if there isn't another national shutdown
The Conference Board of Canada says
the economy may have already begun to recover from the deepest recession on record if the country can avoid another national COVID-related shutdown. The quarterly forecast estimates Canada's economy will shrink by 8.2 per cent this year, after about three million jobs were lost in March and April due to COVID shut-downs.
It also projects Canada's national unemployment rate will peak at 13.7 per cent in the second quarter ending June 30, the highest since the measure was first recorded in 1976.
But the report says the addition of nearly 300,000 jobs in May and continued easing of restrictions in June probably indicate the pandemic's worst impact on the labour market has passed.
It's projecting the addition of another 1.3 million jobs in the July to September quarter, dropping the national unemployment rate to 10.5 per cent.
The Conference Board says that if the country can avoid a second national shutdown, Canada's economy could grow by 6.7 per cent in 2021 and by 4.8 per cent in 2022.
Business Resilience Service: Still Available
Need help navigating the services available to help your SME get through COVID-19? The Business Resilience Service, delivered to your organization free of charge, provides:
• Guidance on COVID-19 financial support program options and eligibility
• Direction on accessing the most appropriate support organizations
• Help to make decisions to support recovery plans
• Real time insights and feedback to policymakers
To access the BRS, call 1-866-989-1080 to connect with a business advisor from the accounting profession. The service is available seven days/week:
• Monday-Friday: 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. ET
• Saturdays: 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
• Sundays: 12:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. ET
Planned CEBA Expansion Delayed
A promised expansion of a COVID-19 aid program that allows small businesses to access $40,000 loans guaranteed by the federal government will not launch today as planned.
Finance Minister Bill Morneau took to twitter late last night to announce the Canada Emergency Business Account expansion delay, saying: "Work continues around the clock to ensure the program can securely launch across over 230 financial institutions. We know how important the program is to small businesses and want to launch as quickly as possible. Updates to come."
There's no immediate word on why the program expansion is being delayed.
Several weeks ago the Feds announced the small business loan program would be expanded to allow more to access it, including owner-operated small businesses with payrolls under $20,000, sole proprietors receiving business income directly and family-owned corporations compensating in the form of dividends.
Retail sales plunged 26.4 per cent in April: StatCan
Retail sales fell by more than a quarter in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Statistics Canada said Friday that they regained some of the lost ground in May. The agency said
retail sales plunged by a record 26.4 per cent to $34.7 billion in April leaving them down 33.6 per cent since physical distancing measures were implemented in mid-March. However, Statistics Canada said early estimates suggest retail sales rose 19.1 per cent in May.
Economists on average had expected a drop in April of 15.1 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv.
However, many retailers started or expanded their online presence and curbside pick-up services in response to the closures. Statistics Canada says online sales surged to a record high, representing 9.5 per cent of the total retail market.
Sales were down in all 11 subsectors in April, while motor vehicle and parts dealers took the largest hit in dollar terms as the sector fell 44.3 per cent for the month.
Sales at food and beverage stores fell 12.7 per cent as supermarkets and other grocery stores saw a drop of 12.0 per cent compared with March when Canadians stocked up.
Retail sales in volume terms fell a record 25.2 per cent in April, following an 8.2 per cent drop in March, leaving them down 31.3 per cent since the onset of the pandemic
Canada tops 100,000 reported coronavirus cases
Ontario reported 173 new coronavirus cases on Thursday, pushing Canada's total number of confirmed and presumptive cases above 100,000.
As of 12:42 p.m. ET on Thursday, Canada had 100,146 confirmed and presumptive coronavirus cases. Provinces and territories listed 62,442 of those cases as recovered or resolved. A CBC News tally of deaths based on provincial data, regional health information and CBC's reporting stood at 8,348 after being revised down by one when health officials in Ontario's Peel Region updated their figures.
Federal deficit could hit $256 billion, PBO
The parliamentary budget officer says in a new report that this year's federal deficit could hit $256 billion due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The result is the combination of an estimated total of $169 billion in federal spending on emergency aid and a historic drop in economic output.
The budget office estimates the economy could shrink by 6.8 per cent in 2020, the weakest showing since 1981 and double the record of 3.2 per cent shrinkage in 1982.
The overall deficit figure is only $3.8 billion higher than budget officer Yves Giroux's previous predictions, which his report says is due to a better economic outlook in the second half of the year that offsets some new spending.
Previously, Giroux estimated the economy could shrink by 12 per cent in 2020.
Giroux stresses that the figures are the outcome of one of many possible scenarios and not a certain forecast.
The report comes one day after Prime Minister Justin Trudeau promised to deliver a "snapshot" of federal finances on July 8 that will provide short-term spending estimates.
CERB and CEWS costs
The budget office now estimates the $2,000-a-month CERB will cost the government $61.1 billion, but pull in $7.7 billion when recipients are taxed on the income next year. The Liberals have promised to extend the benefits so recipients can receive 24 weeks instead of the current 16, and previously revised the budget for the program to $60 billion.
When the Finance Department increased the cost of the CERB, it also lowered the cost for the CEWS program from to $45 billion from $73 billion based on the take-up rate among businesses. Giroux's office estimates the wage subsidy to cost the treasury $55.6 billion.
Voluntary nationwide contact tracing app coming soon
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today he hopes Canadians will download a new app on their cellphones that will alert them if they've come into contact with someone who has tested positive for COVID-19.
The federally-backed project has been spearheaded by the Canadian Digital Service, a federal initiative, and the Ontario Digital Service, with help from volunteers from the tech firm Shopify. It incorporates Bluetooth technology provided by Apple and Google. The app will undergo a security review by BlackBerry. The technology works by having people who test positive upload their results anonymously to the app, called COVID Alert, using a temporary code given to them by a health care provider, said a federal media release.
Other users who have the app and who have been near someone who has tested positive will then be alerted that they've been exposed and a notification will encourage them to reach out to their local public health authorities.
Ontario will roll out the app first. Officials in that province said they hope to have the app available for download on July 2 for iPhones running iOS 5.0 or later versions, and for Android phones running Android 6.0 or later versions.
App use is voluntary, says PM.
The privacy commissioner was helping with the development of the app. Therefore, no personal information will be shared. The app is super secure. The app will be available on July 1st.
Alberta has been using its own app called ABTraceTogether for weeks now. That has some people worrying
about a patchwork of apps across the country that could lead to confusing messaging, low uptake numbers and inconsistent data.
Thousands of tourists, shoppers still trying to enter Canada despite COVID-19 travel ban
Canadian border agents have turned away more than 7,500 foreigners – mostly Americans – trying to visit Canada for non-essential purposes, including sightseeing, shopping and recreation, since pandemic restrictions on travel were imposed.
The latest data available from the Canada Border Services Agency reveals that 7,639 foreign nationals were denied entry to Canada under the discretionary travel ban between March 22 and June 16.
Americans accounted for 87 per cent of those denied entry, with 6,615 U.S. citizens being sent home by Canadian border agents. The remaining 1,024 people denied entry were citizens of other countries not specified by the CBSA.
Federal finance minister will present a fiscal 'snapshot' on July 8
The Trudeau government will provide an update on the state of government finances on July 8. Trudeau said that because of the economic uncertainty created by the global pandemic, the update will not be the same as the ones in previous years.
Trudeau has previously dismissed calls for a fiscal update/budget, arguing there are simply too many variables to make an accurate projection of how the economy will respond. The PM would not offer a timeframe for presenting a full economic update or a budget, saying only it will happen once the economy has stabilized.
The government shelved its plan to present a budget in March, as the novel coronavirus spread around the world and the country went on lockdown. It has been under pressure to give a detailed economic update ever since.
Mandatory mask laws are spreading in Canada
Some communities across Canada have started making non-medical face masks mandatory on public transit — or even in businesses or indoor spaces — to curb the spread of COVID-19. Some doctors and epidemiologists are calling for such laws to be more widespread. But others warn about the potential negative impacts and say the scientific evidence isn't strong enough to warrant such heavy-handed measures. Here's a closer look at the issue.
The Public Health Agency of Canada recommends
wearing a non-medical mask or face covering in public places, especially crowded ones, when physical distancing — keeping a distance of two metres from other people — isn't possible to do consistently. Such places include stores, shopping areas and public transportation.
Where in Canada are masks mandatory so far?
Most mandatory mask regulations in Canada so far concern transportation situations where people may have trouble physically distancing.
- Transport Canada made masks mandatory for air passengers starting in April.
- Some transit agencies in Ontario have announced that masks will be mandatory on buses, streetcars and trains, including Ottawa, Toronto, Hamilton and Guelph.
- In addition, at least two municipalities are implementing mandatory mask laws:
- Côte Saint-Luc, Que., a Montreal suburb that had hundreds of confirmed COVID-19 cases and dozens of deaths by the beginning of June, is making face masks mandatory in indoor public spaces starting July 1.
- The municipality of Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph in Ontario made masks or face coverings mandatory at most businesses earlier in June.
Most regulations include exceptions for children under two years old and people who can't wear a mask because of breathing difficulties or another medical condition or disability.
CAMH survey shows pandemic affecting mental health, but anxiety levels may be easing
Findings from a new survey by Toronto's Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) indicate the pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of Canadians.
"What's unique about this pandemic is it affects everyone," said Samantha Wells, senior director of the Institute for Mental Health Policy Research at CAMH. "It's pervasive and everyone is being affected in some way, shape or form."
The study found that 20 per cent of Canadians surveyed say they have been experiencing loneliness during the pandemic. One in five also reported feeling moderate to severe levels of anxiety because of factors such as job loss and fear of contracting the virus. CAMH staff were particularly surprised, however, by one result in the survey. When the second group was surveyed two weeks after the first sampling, the percentage of people saying they were anxious dropped by four percentage points — from 25.5 per cent in early May to 21.5 per cent towards the end of that month. It was a small change, but one that researchers classify as significant. "The explanation we're coming up with now is it's possible that people are really adjusting to the pandemic," Wells said.
She said that CAMH jumped at the opportunity to gather this data with Delvinia, a global research technology company, in order to ascertain how this unprecedented event is affecting the mental health of Canadians. The goal is to use the knowledge for future programming at the hospital, as well as to brace health-care providers for what may come should a second wave of the virus hit this country. "We may be facing a mental health crisis," Wells said. "We don't know what will come next. But certainly, if there is another wave of this pandemic, there's a lot to be concerned about in terms of the mental health of Canadians." That's why Wells argued it's essential to gather as much information as possible about the ways Canadians are feeling.
Canada- U.S. border to remain closed to non-essential travel until July 21
The Canada-U.S. border will remain closed to non-essential travel for at least another 30 days to slow the spread of the novel coronavirus as confirmed cases in the United States continue to climb past the two million mark.
The deal was set to expire on Sunday but will now extend until July 21, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced during his daily news conference today. Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross the border for work, and has already extended the deal twice so far.
Last week the federal government announced it will now allow some immediate family members separated by the temporary COVID-19 travel restrictions to cross the border into the country.
CERB payments to be extended for 2 more months
Today, PM Trudeau confirmed that the government will be extending eligibility for the CERB by eight more weeks. Those who have been receiving the CERB, but cannot find a job, will continue to receive $2,000 a month. Over the next few weeks, the government will look at international best practices and monitor the economy and progression of the virus to determine what changes – if any – are required to continue supporting Canadians.
A draft bill placed conditions on CERB payments requiring recipients to actively look for work and to not turn down reasonable work opportunities. That legislation did not pass, but Trudeau said today the government will find ways to encourage people to work when they are able.
Employees who make more than $1,000 a month are no longer eligible for CERB. The Conservatives have called for a scaled approach that would allow people to collect a percentage of CERB while working more hours.
Extension of CERB and changes to CEBA are coming
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today that the federal government will extend the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB), with details to follow in the days ahead. The CERB is due to run out soon for people who have been on the benefit since it was first launched in April, at the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic. People can only claim the benefit for 16 weeks — four eligibility periods — and the end of the program's fourth eligibility period is early July. Trudeau announced that "We're working on a solution to extend the benefit for people who can't return to work yet. We'll have more details this week…”
Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos said today the "situation has changed" since the CERB was first introduced — the economy has re-opened in many parts of the country — so there will be "new parameters" to the program when the extension is formally announced.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh has made extending CERB eligibility a condition of his party's support for a key piece of fiscal legislation that is set to be tabled in the House of Commons this week. The government will present the supplementary estimates on Wednesday and Parliament must pass that bill, which gives the government the authority to spend on programs and services. The legislation is considered a confidence vote — meaning the government could fall if it doesn't obtain the support of at least one of the opposition parties for these estimates.
CEWS take up lower than expected
While more than eight million Canadians have applied for the relief benefit during this economic slowdown, the take-up for the wage subsidy program — which floats government funds to employers to keep employees on the payroll — has been considerably lower. The government cut its projected budget for the wage subsidy for the 12-week period between April and June from $73 billion to $45 billion. As of June 8, the program has paid out only $10.5 billion in wage subsidies.
CEBA changes Friday for those paying dividends
Trudeau also announced that the government will start accepting new applications for the Canada emergency business account (CEBA) starting Friday. Treasury Board President Jean-Yves Duclos announced that approximately 670,000 businesses have received a small business loan so far. On Friday, eligibility for the program will expand to those paying dividends, those working with contractors and those that had previously been ineligible for assistance.
Average house price in May was down, even as sales bounced back from record low in April
Home sales bounced back by 57 per cent from their worst April in more than 30 years last month, but the average price of a home sold in May still inched lower compared to last year. The Canadian Real Estate Association says home sales were 56.9 per cent higher in May than they were in April.
April and May are typically a very busy month for home sales, as warmer weather prompts buyers to start shopping after their winter hibernation. But COVID-19 has thrown the usual seasonal patterns of real estate out the window, as widespread lockdowns and physical distancing requirements slowed most showings to a crawl.
This April was the worst such month in almost 40 years
for home sales, CREA reported last month. Activity picked up a little in May, but the sales level is still just two-thirds what it was before the pandemic struck.
Bill C-17 To Allow Deadline Extensions For Federal Corporations
On June 10, 2020, a new bill was tabled in the House of Commons that will allow the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry to issue orders to extend various deadlines for federal businesses, not-for-profits, cooperatives, and boards of trade.
Bill C-17 affects the following acts administered by Corporations Canada:
- Canada Business Corporations Act
- Canada Not for profit Corporations Act
- Canada Cooperatives Act
- Boards of Trade Act
The bill grants authority to extend the period for holding annual meetings and, for boards of trade, the deadline for filing annual summaries. We will provide more information as soon as it is available.
Grocery chains phasing out $2 hourly pay bump for workers implemented at start of COVID-19
Grocery chains Loblaws and Metro, as well as Walmart, have decided to stop giving their workers the $2-an-hour pay bump they put in place in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic. Loblaws, whose brands include Shoppers Drug Mart and No Frills, announced the decision in a letter to members of its loyalty program PC Optimum on Thursday.
Metro, which owns Metro, Food Basics, Jean Coutu and other brands, confirmed that it, too, plans to phase out its $2 hourly pay bump. Walmart Canada gave its workers a similar pay bump for April and May, and confirmed to CBC News in an email that those payments will now be stopped. But the company said it is adding enhanced support for its workers through things like tele-health services, mental health support and counselling, as well as increased discounts on purchases on top of the discounts they regularly receive. Other major Canadian grocery chains, such as Longo's and Sobeys, did not immediately respond to a request for comment as to whether or not they will scrap their pay increases.
While ending the hourly pay bump, Loblaws and Metro plan to disburse one final bonus to workers next month. Metro will pay full-time staff an extra $200 on their July 2 paycheque, while part-timers will get $100. Loblaws workers can expect a $160 bonus next month pro-rated to a 40-hour work week. The two chains and others implemented the pay bump to workers in March as panic buying in the early stages of lockdowns had many stores struggling to keep items on the shelves.
CBRN Small Business Relief Fund: Applications Close June 12
The CBRN Small Business Relief Fund will help 62 small Canadian businesses recover and support their resilience, for a total of $620,000 in funds. Businesses can use the $10,000 grants to support their recovery efforts, including paying salaries, retrofitting their workplaces and acquiring technology to adapt their business models. Applications close at 8:00 p.m. ET on Friday, June 12.
$57 Million Investment in Digital Main Street Will Help Businesses Reopen, Recover and Grow
The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, launched a $57-million program through the Digital Main Street platform to help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.
Businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:
- shopHERE powered by Google will leverage Ontario's strengths by hiring highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves. The core goal will be to help small businesses compete and grow, in a world that is increasingly online, and help them recover as quickly as possible following COVID-19.
- Digital Main Street Grant will help main street small businesses be digitally more effective. Through a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association, small businesses will be able to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support.
- Future-Proofing Main Street will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that helps existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector and thrive in the new economy. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and talented students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms and content.
In addition, the Recovery Activation Program, operated through the Toronto Region Board of Trade, will help businesses grow and digitize their operations with custom consulting sessions, online resource sharing, learning webcasts and business planning. As a result of the investment announced today, the program will be offered province-wide and at no cost to businesses.
Ottawa commits $133M in further aid for Indigenous businesses
PM Trudeau announced an additional $133 million in funding today to help Indigenous businesses suffering the economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. About $117 million of this investment will help small and community owned businesses get through the pandemic, while $16 million is being allocated specifically for Indigenous businesses in the tourism industry.
Federal opposition parties reject CERB/disability support bill
Opposition parties have refused to give unanimous consent to speedily pass the federal government's latest emergency legislation. They have also rejected the government's bid to split the bill to allow benefits for Canadians with disabilities to go ahead while continuing debate on the changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
The bill includes a proposed expansion of the wage subsidy program to include seasonal workers and some additional businesses, as well as proposed penalties for fraudulently claiming the CERB. It also proposes changes to the CERB in response to concerns that the benefit is discouraging people from returning to low-paying jobs.
The NDP is balking at the prospect of Canadians who fraudulently claim the $2,000-a-month CERB being fined or sent to jail — despite Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's assurances that the punishment is aimed at those who deliberately defraud the government, not those who make honest mistakes.
The Conservatives are holding out for a full resumption of House of Commons business.
The Bloc Québécois is demanding three conditions be met before it will support the bill: a fiscal update this month, a first ministers' meeting before September on health-care transfers to the provinces and a ban on political parties accessing the wage subsidy to avoid laying off staff.
Canada-U.S. border closure to be extended into July
The Canada-U.S. border closure to all non-essential traffic will be extended beyond the June 21 date set last month. Media reports suggest that Canada and the United States are holding talks about extending the border restrictions, but the agreement has yet to be signed.
Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross the border for work.
The deal extension was first reported by Reuters on Tuesday.
It is unclear how long the border restrictions will be extended. The initial agreement was extended in April by 30 days until May 21, before being extended for another 30 days last month.
Make the Most of the CBRN Reopening Toolkit for Business
As many provinces and territories continue to make progress on resuming some economic activities, please remember to make use of the comprehensive CBRN reopening toolkit. The toolkit provides information on regulations and reopening, childcare access, communications materials, sourcing PPE, access to guides and materials from other organizations and more.
Access the Toolkit
Government Launches PPE Supply Hub Website
The Supply Hub connects Canadian organizations with federal, provincial, territorial and other resources and information about PPE, including consumer guidance. Buyers will find PPE supplier lists, in addition to guidance to help plan their PPE purchases.
Access The Hub
Federal bill proposes tighter rules for CERB
The Liberal government is proposing legislation that would impose tighter rules for claiming the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) and is threatening to impose fines and jail time on those who deliberately lie on applications.
The bill comes as the government faces pressure from the Conservatives on the one hand to weed out fraudulent claims and urge people to get back to work — and pressure from the NDP on the other hand to extend emergency aid and avoid going after Canadians who file ineligible claims.
In a bill to be tabled in the House of Commons Wednesday, the government says Canadians won't be eligible to claim the benefit if:
- They fail to go back to work when it is reasonable to do so, and their employer asks them to return.
- They fail to resume self-employment when it's reasonable to do so.
- They decline a reasonable job offer when they are able to work.
The bill also lays out penalties for claimants whose applications include information that is "false or misleading," and for those who "knowingly failed" to disclose sources of income or other relevant facts when they applied for the federal aid.
Cyber Threats to Canadian Organizations
The Canadian Centre for Cyber Security has issued an alert regarding cybercrime during the pandemic. The centre has assessed that the COVID-19 pandemic presents an elevated level of risk to the cybersecurity of Canadian health organizations involved in the national response to the pandemic, including but not limited to medical research, manufacturing, distribution and policy-making organizations.
Read The Alert
WHO backtracks on claim that asymptomatic spread of COVID-19 is 'very rare'
A top official with the World Health Organization has walked back statements that the spread of COVID-19 from people who do not show symptoms is "very rare," amid backlash from experts who have questioned the claim because of a lack of data.
Maria van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist and the COVID-19 technical lead for the WHO, said Monday that the available data from published research and member countries had shown asymptomatic cases were not a significant driver for the spread of the virus. Van Kerkhove said she didn't intend to imply that asymptomatic transmission of the virus globally was "very rare," but rather that the available data based on modelling studies and member countries had not been able to provide a clear enough picture on the amount of asymptomatic transmission.
Dr. Isaac Bogoch, an infectious disease physician at Toronto General Hospital, said there has been confusion over the evolving science on the amount of asymptomatic transmission since the start of the pandemic. "At a fundamental level it's extremely important to explain the science well and explain what our current knowledge is and also explain what the unknown questions are," he said. "I don't think the WHO did a very good job of that yesterday and they did a questionable job of that today when they were trying to clarify their comments." Bogoch said there is a key discrepancy between people who do not have symptoms, those who have not yet shown symptoms and those who only have mild symptoms, which can make studying the true number of asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19 extremely challenging.
Hand Sanitizer Recall
Check your hand sanitizer label. On Saturday, Health Canada issued a recall of six hand sanitizers that are made with industrial-grade ethanol. The chemical can lead to dry skin, irritation and cracking. The brands include Eltraderm, Contract Packaging Distributions, Nature's Own, Sanilabs and Walker Emulsions.
Canada added 290,000 jobs in May
After losing more than three million jobs in March and April, Canada's economy added 290,000 jobs in May, Statistics Canada reported Friday.
The data agency reported that 290,000 more people had paid employment in May than in April. The surge means May was the best one-month gain for jobs in Canada in 45 years, although it happened from an admittedly low bar. It also means the economy has now replaced about 10 per cent of the jobs it lost to COVID-19.
Despite the job gains, Canada's official unemployment rate rose to 13.7 per cent, as 491,000 more people were looking for work in the job market, notably students, whose search for summer work isn't normally recorded in the months before May.
In February, Canada's jobless rate was 5.6 per cent. It increased to 7.8 per cent in March and 13 per cent in April. The number of unemployed Canadians has more than doubled since February.
The vast majority of the new jobs came in Quebec, which added 230,900. Every other province added jobs except Ontario, which lost 64,500 positions.
What do we mean by 'job,' anyway?
Scotiabank economist Derek Holt said that while overall the job numbers were certainly positive, he's taking them with several grains of salt because it all depends on what is meant by "employment" in these unprecedented times.
StatsCan's job numbers are based on a survey of Canadians, which means they are based on answers by human beings and subject to interpretation. Nearly three million Canadians reported they worked no hours in May, but still told the data collectors at StatsCan that they consider themselves to be employed.
"Whether or not you believe that Canada created about 290,000 jobs last month depends, critically, upon what fraction of those who worked no hours in May but said they were employed will ultimately return to their jobs," Holt said.
Right now, the millions of people on Canada's federal government wage subsidy program
are not considered to be unemployed, despite not actively working, "and hence not as a lost job," Holt noted. "Some will indeed return to full or part hours, and we all hope this to be the case for all, [but] some won't regain the full hours they had before ... and some will not return at all."
If those people don't return to active work, May's job surge could vanish as swiftly as it appeared.
Federal government to provide $14B to provinces, territories to 'safely' restart economies
The federal government is providing $14 billion to the provinces and territories to help them "safely and carefully" reopen their economies — but the premier of Canada's most populous province says it's not nearly enough.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau made the announcement at his daily news conference outside his residence at Rideau Cottage this morning, saying the money will help pay for more personal protective equipment (PPE) for front-line health care workers and businesses, and for child care so that parents can go back to work.
Some of the money going to provinces and territories is meant to help them improve the state of long-term care, and to help municipalities continue providing core public services such as transit. The government is saying little at this point about how the money will be carved up and when it will flow.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford said it's a "start" but $14 billion falls far short of what's required to address the "massive need" in his province. "The reality is, we have a $23 billion problem in Ontario, and $14 billion for all of Canada ... just won't cut it," he said.
Federal Government Announces One-Time Payment To Individuals Who Are Certificate Holders Of The Disability Tax Credit
The Prime Minister announced that the government is introducing a one-time, non-taxable payment of up to $600 for Canadians with disabilities. The government will also establish a national workplace accessibility stream to help people with disabilities find and keep a good paying job. In addition, five new projects are being funded across the country to support Canadians in obtaining supportive devices that will help them overcome barriers in the workplace.
CMHC removes requirement for Tenant to disclose Gross Annual Revenue from CECRA application
Overnight the CMHC made a change to the CECRA program which removed the requirement for Tenant’s to disclose to their landlords their Gross Annual Revenue. Tenant’s will still have to attest that they meet the requirements of the program.
CECRA Website for more information
Canadian Chamber releases Roadmap to Recovery
Today the Canadian Chamber of Commerce launched Roadmap to Recovery, which takes a comprehensive look at the challenges facing Canada’s economy and identifies 51 specific recommendations governments should adopt to overcome the challenges identified. Canada was prepared to do whatever it took to ensure we made it through this pandemic, and we need to apply the same mindset to repairing our economy.
Read the News Release
Access The Roadmap To Recovery
Personal bankruptcies fell to record low in April
The number of people filing for bankruptcy fell to a record low in April, as government support programs and mortgage deferrals during the coronavirus pandemic are keeping people's heads above water for now.
According to official data released by the Office of the Superintendent of Bankruptcy Canada, a total of 6,700 people across Canada filed for bankruptcy or made a formal proposal to their creditors that month, a figure that is down by 43 per cent compared to the same month a year earlier.
That's the biggest plunge on record dating back to 1988, and the smallest number of people filing for bankruptcy since at least 2007.
But the decline in personal bankruptcies doesn't suggest fewer people are feeling the financial pinch. Rather, it suggests that people are doing whatever it takes to pay the bills for now.
Official numbers from Statistics Canada show that more than one million Canadians lost their job in March
, and another two million lost their job in April
. Numbers for May are due out on Friday, and they are expected to show at least another half-million jobs lost.
Counterintuitively, that record-setting pace of job losses may be keeping insolvencies at bay for now. Bankrupcy consultants conceded that "If not working, a debtor is largely creditor proof," and the courts are closed.
As of the middle of May, more than seven million Canadians had applied for the Canada emergency response benefit
, Ottawa's $35 billion program for laid-off Canadians. The program seems to be having an impact in keeping creditors at bay, as "CERB payments cannot be garnished."
COVID-19 support for seniors will flow starting July 6
Today, the Prime Minister revealed the release date for supplemented seniors payments, announced back in May, will flow during the week of July 6, 2020. The government is investing $2.5 billion to provide a one-time, tax-free payment of $300 to seniors eligible for the Old Age Security pension. To support Canada’s most vulnerable seniors, an additional $200 is also being provided to seniors who are eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement.
To date only 1.3% of landlords have agreed to take part in the commercial rent relief program
A recent report by the Globe and Mail indicates that since the program opened last week, only 16,000 landlords of the country's 1.2 million small businesses have agreed to take part in the program. Applications for CECRA opened May 25.
The CFA has sent a letter to the federal and provincial governments asking for the following changes to the current program and some provincial actions to help incentivize landlords into participating.
1. Reduce the 70% threshold to 30%
2. Inclusion of “Dark Sites” in the program
3. Allow tenants to apply for the CECRA without their landlord
4. Extend the program beyond the current April, May, June window
Provincial governments must use their policy and legislative tools
5. Institute a temporary moratorium on commercial rent default evictions for a six-month period
6. Temporarily suspend property tax rebate for vacant properties
7. Expand access to CEBA so that landlords can use the loan on a site by site basis
Bank of Canada holds rate steady but scales back some COVID-19 stimulus
The Bank of Canada held its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday and said it thinks the economic impact of COVID-19 on the world's economy "appears to have peaked." Canada's central bank has dropped its rate dramatically since the pandemic began, cutting its rate from 1.75 per cent in late February to 0.25 per cent barely a month later.
The bank also announced it will tinker with a number of bond and debt-buying programs in order to make sure there is enough cash in the system.
The Bank's programs to improve market function are having their intended effect. As a result, the Bank is reducing the frequency of its term repo operations to once per week, and its program to purchase bankers' acceptances to bi-weekly operations.
Bank of Montreal economist Benjamin Reitzes noted that "both of these operations have seen much less take-up (or none at all) of late." In barely two months, the feverish pace of bond buying to buttress the economy has ballooned the bank's balance sheet by $125 billion according to Toronto-Dominion Bank economist James Orlando.
GDP decline less than expected
When announcing the decision today, the bank noted that it now expects GDP to decline between 10% and 20% compared to last year—a less severe expectation than was forecast in April. The central bank is now projecting that the Canadian economy will recover in the third quarter of 2020.
Trudeau: Restarting the economy and access to PPE
Noting that every province and territory will have its own plans to restart their economies, the prime minister highlighted the need for a collaborative approach among governments. The prime minister went on to emphasize that as provinces re-open demand for personal protective equipment (PPE) will increase. He then turned to ongoing procurement efforts.
Prime Minister Trudeau noted that the government has procured over 100 million surgical masks and nearly 40 million surgical gloves. The prime minister went on to note that over half of the face shields in the country have been produced domestically. Prime Minister Trudeau went on to announce that the government has delivered funding to four Canadian companies working on rapid testing, including Deep Biologics in Guelph.
The prime minister went on to highlight the work of the Industry Strategy Council and the work it is doing to analyze the impact that the pandemic is having on various sectors in the country.
Conference Board releases Provincial Outlook Summary
This quarterly economic forecast provides highlights of the Provincial Outlook report, which presents the short-term outlook for Canada’s provinces.
- Canada is in the midst of its worst economic downturn in decades, with real GDP expected to decline by 4.3 per cent this year.
- The arrival of the COVID-19 pandemic has devastated the economic outlook for all provinces, with significant declines in economic activity right across the country.
- Alberta will be hardest hit this year as it contends with the combination of restrictions on activity to slow the spread of the virus and an unprecedented drop in the price and demand for oil.
- The economic outlook for next year is much better, with all provinces expected to rebound strongly.
CRA snitch line now open to report fraudulent CERB, CEWS claims
The CRAs Leads Program updated its website this week to include the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) funds to its list of reportable cheating activities.
As of June 1, the government had processed more than 15 million applications for CERB, including more than eight million unique applicants, and paid out more than $42 billion in benefits.
Nine business leaders appointed to the Industry Strategy Council
These leaders come from a diverse array of sectors, including agri-food, digital industries, manufacturing, transportation and clean tech. This panel will provide a forum for business leaders to share their direct perspectives on the scope of challenges that Canadian industries face. The Council will hold virtual meetings every two weeks over the next three months.
- Murad Al-Katib, President and Chief Executive Officer, AGT Food and Ingredients – Agri-food sector
- John Baker, M.S.C., President and Chief Executive Officer, D2L Corporation – Digital Industries sector
- Rhonda Barnet, President and Chief Operating Officer, AVIT Manufacturing – Advanced Manufacturing sector
- Paviter Binning, President, Wittington Investments, Limited – Retail sector
- Ben Cowan-Dewar, Co-founder and Chief Executive Officer, Cabot Links – Tourism & Hospitality sector
- Karimah Es Sabar, Chief Executive Officer and Partner, Quark Venture – Health & Biosciences sector
- Karen Hamberg, Vice President of External Affairs and Sustainability, Westport Fuel Systems Inc. – Clean Technology sector
- Mark Little, President and Chief Executive Officer, Suncor Energy Inc. – Resources of the Future sector
- Sylvie Vachon, President and Chief Executive Officer, Montreal Port Authority – Transportation sector
Facebook Extends Small Business Grants Application Deadline
We know your business may be experiencing disruptions resulting from the global outbreak of COVID-19. We’ve heard that a little financial support can go a long way, so Facebook is offering cash grants and ad credits to help during this challenging time. The application deadline for the Facebook grants program has been extended to June 7 at 11:59 p.m. ET.
The Facebook grants program is a separate initiative from the CBRN Small Business Relief Fund, which is accepting applications until Friday, June 12 at 8:00 p.m. ET. Businesses may apply for both programs; however, if your business receives in excess of $1,000 from the Facebook program, you will not be eligible to receive a CBRN grant.
Apply For A Facebook Grant
Apply For A CBRN Grant
Upcoming Tax Filing Deadlines
- Filing date for 2019 tax year: June 1, 2020
- Payment date for 2019 tax year: September 1, 2020
Self-employed and their spouse or common law partner
- Filing date for current tax year: June 15, 2020
- Payment date for current tax year: September 1, 2020
- Filing date for 2019 tax year:
- June 1, 2020 for corporations that would otherwise have a filing due date after March 18 and before June 1, 2020.)
September 1, 2020 for corporations that would otherwise have a filing deadline in June, July, or August 2020.
- Payment date for 2019 tax year
- September 1, 2020 for balances and instalments under Part I of the Income Tax Act due on or after March 18 and before September 1, 2020.
Canada's economy shrank at an 8% in the first 3 months of 2020
Canada's economy shrank at an 8 per cent annual pace in the first three months of 2020, worst since 2009. Statistics Canada reported Friday that the slowdown was the sharpest quarterly drop since the financial crisis of 2009, as measures to contain the pandemic such as school and business closures, border shutdowns and travel restrictions brought economic activity grinding to a halt.
The eight per cent decline was better than the ten per cent contraction that economists had been expecting for the period.
While the vast majority of the contraction came in March when the pandemic hit, January and February's numbers weren't overly strong to begin with due to pre-existing drags such as rail blockades across the country, and a teacher strike in Ontario in February.
Canada's gross domestic product was 2.1 per cent smaller over the three months than it was at the end of 2019. But much of that came in March alone, as GDP declined by 7.2 per cent during the month. That makes March 2020 the worst month for Canada's economy since record-keeping began in 1961.
By sector, the slowdown in March was striking, including:
- Accommodation and food services, down 39.5 per cent.
- Transportation and warehousing, down 12.2 per cent.
- Air transportation, down 40.9 per cent.
- Manufacturing, down 6.5 per cent.
- Retail trade, down 9.6 per cent.
- Educational services, down 13.5 per cent.
- Arts, entertainment and recreation, down 41.3 per cent.
- Construction, down 4.4 per cent.
- Mining, quarrying, and oil and gas extraction, down five per cent.
Canadian Economy Shrank More Than U.S. but Less than Other G7 Countries: StatCan
Today’s StatCan report noted that while Canada’s performance may be worse than that of the U.S., it’s in the “middle of the pack” compared to other developed countries, Bank of Montreal chief economist Doug Porter wrote in a client note. He outlined the change in GDP “from least bad to worst”:
- Japan (-3.4 per cent)
- U.S. (-5.0 per cent)
- U.K. (-7.7 per cent)
- Canada (-8.2 per cent)
- Germany (-8.6 per cent)
- Italy (-17.7 per cent)
- France (-21.4 per cent)
Ottawa extends large cruise ship ban until October
Transport Minister Marc Garneau said Thursday passenger ships with overnight accommodations for more than 100 people — including both passengers and crew — can't operate in Canadian waters until at least Oct. 31. The move extends and expands an order issued in mid-March that barred ships with more than 500 passengers from Canadian waters until July.
Ships with more than 12 passengers can't go to the Arctic until at least Oct. 31, for fear that one might carry COVID-19 to a remote northern community.
4 in 10 Canadians can feasibly perform their job from home – StatCan
New data released by Statistics Canada reveals that only four in 10 Canadians hold jobs that can be reasonably performed remotely. StatCan data released on Thursday broke down how many Canadians are physically able to work from home, based on their employment, and found that only 39 per cent of Canadians are able to work remotely. The data looked at the “telework capacity” of different industries to measure how likely they were to be able to work from home.
Finance, insurance and educational service workers had the highest ability to work from home, at 85 per cent. Other jobs that had a high capacity for being performed remotely were professional, scientific and technical services, at 84 per cent. At the other end of the scale, food services, agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting have “almost no telework capacity,
The 39 per cent statistic is striking when compared to the percentage of Canadians who worked from home before the pandemic. In 2018, around 13 per cent of Canadians were doing some scheduled work from home hours -- only a tiny raise from the 10 per cent of Canadians who worked from home in 2000, according to the StatCan report.
CBRN Small Business Relief Fund Now Accepting Applications
Applications are now open for the Canadian Business Resilience Network Small Business Relief Fund! We are offering grants to Canadian small businesses that have been adversely affected by the COVID-19 pandemic to help them recover and support their resilience. These grants are made possible through the generosity of Salesforce and will be offered as a one-time payment of $10,000 to 62 businesses across the country. Applications are being accepted until Friday, June 12, 2020 at 8:00 p.m. ET.
Learn More And Apply Here
Federal government to provide rent relief to eligible business tenants at all National Parks, National Historic Sites And National Marine Conservation Areas
The Government of Canada is taking further action to support businesses operating in Canada’s national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas dealing with the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The government will waive up to 75% of eligible commercial rents for the months of April, May and June 2020 or equivalent amounts of annual rents. This relief is additional to measures announced March 27 allowing commercial operators to defer payments normally due on or after April 2, 2020 to as late as September 1, 2020.
Parks Canada will be contacting all holders of commercial leases and licences of occupation in national parks, national historic sites and national marine conservation areas to provide details on this additional relief. Information will also be made available soon on the Parks Canada website.
CBRN Business Reopening Toolkit and Provincial/Territorial Regulation Tracker
In order to operate, businesses must abide by all national, provincial/territorial and local codes issued by our governments. This includes when and which businesses can open, an array of health and safety measures, social distancing standards, occupancy limits and more. Through the CBRN Business Reopening Toolkit, you can access the rules and regulations that are in place according to federal and provincial/territorial jurisdictions.
CBRN Small Business Relief Fund launched
CBRN Small Business Relief Fund launched to give grants of 10,000 to help support business recovery efforts. The Fund will help 62 small Canadian businesses recover and support their resilience, for a total of $620,000 in funds.
Businesses can use the $10,000 grants to support their recovery efforts, including paying salaries, acquiring safety and personal protective equipment for staff, replenishing materials or paying for the measures required to adapt business models to the economic impacts of COVID-19.
During the COVID-19 crisis, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s mission is to help as many businesses as possible stay afloat and remain open. Small business owners put everything they have into their businesses, and these grants will help give a little bit back. Good people coming together is how Canadians have managed this crisis, and the Canadian Chamber and Salesforce are following their lead, one business at a time.
Contribute to the CFA’s submission on the future of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
The Government of Canada is reviewing the CEWS program, and input from businesses is required to inform potential changes to the program to best meet the needs of businesses and their staff. You can participate via a short online survey or by email. Deadline to participate is June 5, 2020.
Feel free to share your views on the future of the CEWS by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Your comments will help CFA staff craft our response to the public consultation.
Facebook Canada Launches Grant Program And New Supports, Totalling Nearly $3.5 Million For Small Businesses
Small businesses are the pillars of our communities and, right now, they need everyone’s support. Today, Facebook Canada launched a program with nearly $3.5 million in support for small- and medium-sized businesses in the Ottawa-Gatineau, Toronto, Vancouver and Montreal regions. From grants and virtual training to enhanced resources and new product features, this is Facebook Canada's way of giving a hand to those who give our communities so much. The deadline to apply for the grants is Tuesday, June 2.
For more information.
CRA Extends Filing Deadlines For Corporations And Trusts
The CRA has extended deadlines for T2 Corporate Income Tax Returns and T3 Trust Income Tax Returns that had been due in June, July or August. Those returns are now due September 1, 2020. As previously announced by CRA, any income tax balance due on or after March 18 and before September 1 is also now due by September 1, 2020.
INFO ON T2s & T3s
INFO ON TAX FILING AND PAYMENT
Did you and your landlord apply for commercial rent relief today?
Federal-Provincial Commercial Rent Assistance Program officially opened this morning. Application documents and updated criteria are now available here.
Is you landlord working with you to apply? If not, the CFA wants to know. Send us an email at email@example.com with
These stories will help the CFA advocate for changes in the program criteria to help make more CFA members eligible for support.
- Your business legal name
- Your landlords name
- Your location
- A summary of your situation
- Your contact information
Business Resilience Service launched to help businesses navigate government programs
Canadian Chamber and the Government of Canada team up with accounting profession to provide free advice to small to medium-sized business, not-for-profits and charities.
The program, called the Business Resilience Service (BRS), is run through the Canadian Chamber’s Canadian Business Resilience Network in collaboration with EY and with support from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada) and Imagine Canada. The BRS will provide options for any vulnerable small to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will:
The BRS program, coordinated by EY, will be provided for four weeks from Monday, May 25, and will involve support from approximately 125 business advisors from across the accounting profession. Organizations can access the BRS seven days a week by calling 1-866-989-1080.
- Provide guidance on program options and eligibility
- Rapidly direct businesses – including enterprises involving Indigenous peoples, women and diverse groups – to the most appropriate support organizations
- Help organizations make decisions to support recovery plans
- Provide real time insights and feedback to policymakers
Federal government to work with province to provide workers with 10 days of paid sick leave per year
Following recent conversations with NDP leader Jagmeet Singh, Prime Minister Trudeau committed to working closely with the provinces to provide workers with 10 days of paid sick leave per year. Trudeau stressed that no one should have to choose between paying bills and taking time off to care for themselves. He also confirmed that the government is considering other mechanisms to support workers “for the longer term”. Specific details about the delivery of paid sick leave is expected to come in the weeks ahead.
Commercial Rent Assistance Portal Opens Monday, May 25, 2020
The CECRA for small businesses application portal opens at 8:00 am on Monday, May 25.
Application documents and updated criteria are now available here.
Government launches benefit-finder tool for emergency aid
The government launched an online tool today to help Canadians navigate the various financial benefits available during the pandemic, as the political parties continue to spar over the resumption of Parliament.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the benefit-finder tool during a daily briefing. The government site is now live to help students, seniors and out-of-work Canadians find out which benefits they can access.
Update on the PM’s call with the Premiers
Last night the Prime Minister spoke with the provincial and territorial Premiers for the tenth time since the start of the pandemic. The call has been happening every week since the crisis began. On the call they spoke at length about the safe re-opening of the economy and mutually outlined a set of principles for moving forward. These principles include:
While each of the Premiers plans will be different, Trudeau confirmed that they are all working towards one common goal: protecting Canadians. He emphasized the next phase of collaborative efforts will focus on testing, contact tracing and data collection and Trudeau has told the Premiers the feds are here to “support, facilitate and fund” this work.
- Canada needs to continue scaling up its testing capacity to quickly identify new cases and isolate them. The federal government is working with the provinces and territories to expand testing by procuring more reagents and swabs. Some provinces have the capacity to meet current needs, but both levels of government are collaborating to ramp up these efforts.
- Canada needs to accelerate its ability to conduct contact tracing. The feds have trained federal employees to make 3,600 contact tracing calls every day of the week. Statistics Canada also has an additional 1,700 interviewers available to make 20,000 calls a day. Ontario is already utilizing these federal services and Trudeau noted these resources are available to assist other provinces and territories with their tracing backlogs.
- Canada needs to ensure that data that is collected across jurisdictions is shared between the provinces and territories to help manage spread.
COVID-19 pushed Canadian retail sales to their biggest ever plunge in March
Widespread lockdowns due to COVID-19 across the country pushed Canadian retail sales down by 10 per cent in March, the biggest plunge on record. Statistics Canada reported Friday that about 40 per cent of Canadian retailers closed their doors in March, as government lockdowns and physical distancing requirements set in. March's plunge was more than twice as bad as the previous record of 4.5 per cent, set in February 1998.
The data agency says April's preliminary numbers suggest that month's data are likely to be even worse, down 15 per cent from March's already low level, but the numbers released Friday show just how bad things got in just the first two weeks of lockdown.
Overall, Canadians spent just $47 billion at retailers in March. That's the worst month since 2016.
Just about every type of retailer saw sales plummet during the month, but those deemed non-essential bore the brunt, including:
There were a few bright spots, namely grocery stores that saw booming business as Canadians stocked up to shelter in place. Food and beverage sales were up 22 per cent, while general merchandise stores had their best month ever, with sales up 6.4 per cent.
Sales at health and personal care stores rose 4.6 per cent, also to their highest level on record. Cannabis sales rose 19 per cent.
Another bright spot was the growth in online retailers, as Canadians spent $2.2 billion online in March. That's 40 per cent higher than it was in the same month last year.
- Clothing stores, down 51 per cent.
- Motor vehicle and parts dealers, down 35 per cent.
- Furniture and home furnishings, down 24 per cent.
- Hobby, book and music stores, down 23 per cent.
- Gas stations, down 19 per cent.
Have you been denied for the $40K CEBA loan? We want to hear from you!
If you have applied for the Canada Emergency Business Account ($40k loan) and been denied--let us know. Tell us if you have not received a reason for the rejection or what the reason was and why you disagree. We may be able to help get you some answers. Make sure your email includes:
These stories will help the CFA advocate for changes in the program criteria to help make more CFA members eligible for support. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Your business legal name (according to your financial institution)
- Your financial institution
- A summary of your situation
- Your contact information
CBRN Launches Reopening Canada’s Economy, A National Guide for Business
The Canadian Business Resilience Network, which the CFA is a member, launched a guide for businesses moving to reopen, “Reopening Canada’s Economy, A National Guide for Business.”
The guide is accessible electronically here
Uptake on government programs
During Saturday’s media briefing Prime Minister Trudeau noted that
• over 500,000 businesses have been able to receive a loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
• Subsidies through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) have impacted almost 2,000,000 workers.
• the CEWS will be extended past June 2020
Business Credit Availability Program will be expanded for small and medium-sized businesses
Prime Minister Trudeau revealed that the Business Credit Availability Program will be expanded for small and medium-sized businesses. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company and guarantees of up to $80 million. Through the BCAP, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will work with private sector lenders to support access to capital for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions.
Federal government announces large employer emergency financing facility (LEEFF)
On May 11, Finance Minister Bill Moreau announced that the federal government is offering bridge financing for big Canadian businesses across all sectors to help them keep employees on the payroll through the pandemic, but there are conditions attached – including the required disclosure of the company's environmental plan.
Large employer emergency financing facility (LEEFF) will provide support to employers with annual revenues of more than $300 million whose credit needs are not being met through conventional financing. The program is open to large commercial businesses in all sectors except those in the financial sector, as well as certain not-for-profit businesses like airports.
To qualify, businesses must be looking for financing of $60 million or more, have significant operations or workforce in Canada and not be involved in ongoing insolvency proceedings. It is not intended to be a low-cost loan program for companies that don't need it or to bail out companies that were already in financial trouble before the pandemic.
Companies must disclose their climate action plans and sustainability goals to qualify and must meet other conditions, including not having "excessive" executive pay. Companies that have been found guilty of tax evasion are disqualified. Details are still being worked out and information on the application process is expected shortly.
For more information please see the Prime Minister’s News Release.
Federal government extending CEWS beyond June
At his press conference on May 8, the Prime Minister said that the federal government’s emergency wage-subsidy program will be extended beyond its early-June endpoint. The program covers 75 per cent of worker pay up to $847 a week to try to help employers keep employees on the job in the face of steep declines in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic. More details on the extension will come next week.
New Industry Strategy Council announced by the federal government
Today, PM Trudeau announced that Innovation, Science and Industry Minister Navdeep Bains will be leading a new Industry Strategy Council chaired by Monique Leroux. The Council will be tasked with taking a deeper dive into how the pandemic is affecting specific sectors and finding ways for the government to best support them. Previous economic strategy tables set up in the government’s first mandate will also be leveraged throughout this process.
The Tables are chaired by industry leaders in the following key sectors: advanced manufacturing, agri-food, clean technology, digital industries, health and bio-sciences, resources of the future, and tourism and hospitality. In response to some particular pressures related to the pandemic, the Government is adding two new Tables, representing the retail and transportation sectors.
Canada's jobless rate soars to 13 per cent in April
The Canadian economy lost almost two million jobs in April, a record high, as the closure of non-essential services to slow the spread of COVID-19 forced businesses to shutter temporarily. The loss of 1,993,800 comes on top of more than one million jobs lost in March, and millions more having their hours and incomes slashed.
The unemployment rate soared to 13.0 per cent, Statistics Canada reported, as the full force of the pandemic hit compared with 7.8 per cent in March. It was the second highest unemployment rate on record as job losses spread beyond the service sector to include construction and manufacturing.
Economists on average had expected the loss of four million jobs and an unemployment rate of 18 per cent, according to financial markets data firm Refinitiv. The unemployment rate would have been 17.8 per cent had the agency's labour force survey counted among the unemployed the 1.1 million who stopped looking for work -- likely because the COVID-19 economic shutdown has limited job opportunities.
In all, more than one-third of the labour force didn't work or had reduced hours in April, an "underutilization rate" that was more than three times higher than in February before the pandemic struck. Here's a quick look at April employment (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
Here are the jobless rates last month by province (numbers from the previous month in brackets):
- Unemployment rate: 13.0 per cent (7.8)
- Employment rate: 52.1 per cent (58.5)
- Participation rate: 59.8 per cent (63.5)
- Number unemployed: 2,418,300 (1,547,000)
- Number working: 16,184,900 (18,178,700)
- Youth (15-24 years) unemployment rate: 27.2 per cent (16.8)
- Men (25 plus) unemployment rate: 10.8 per cent (5.9)
- Women (25 plus) unemployment rate: 11.3 per cent (7.1)
- Newfoundland and Labrador 16.0 per cent (11.7)
- Prince Edward Island 10.8 (8.6)
- Nova Scotia 12.0 (9.0)
- New Brunswick 13.2 (8.8)
- Quebec 17.0 (8.1)
- Ontario 11.3 (7.6)
- Manitoba 11.4 (6.4)
- Saskatchewan 11.3 (7.3)
- Alberta 13.4 (8.7)
- British Columbia 11.5 (7.2)
Agreement reached on $4B deal to boost essential workers' pay
Today, Ottawa announced it has reached a $4 billion agreement with all the provinces and territories to boost the salaries of essential workers who make less than $2,500 a month. The federal government will kick in $3 billion while the provinces will contribute the rest.
Some provinces already have moved ahead.
Saskatchewan recently announced that employees making less than $2,500 a month while working with vulnerable people are eligible for a wage top-up of $400 per month for 16 weeks. That includes people working at long-term care homes, daycares and shelters.
Ontario announced a $4-per-hour increase for front-line workers at long-term care homes, retirement homes, emergency shelters, supportive housing, group homes, correctional institutions and youth justice facilities, as well as for those providing home and community care and some hospital staff.
Quebec announce a $4-per-hour pay hike for workers in private long-term care homes, as well as a $24.28-per-hour salary to attract new workers to fill in as attendants at the facilities.
Federal Update on how many Canadians applied for support
At today, press conference, President of the Treasury Board Jean-Yves Duclos announced how many Canadians and Canadian businesses have accessed the federal support programs since March 15, 2020. The numbers are staggering considering that there were 19 million Canadians in the workforce in February 2020.
- 500, 000 businesses have received an emergency loan
- 10.9 million applications have now been received under the CERB and 7.5 million Canadians have received funding under the program.
- 100 000 businesses have applied for the CEWS
Canadian Chamber – Impact of COVID-19 on Diverse Business Owners
New data from the recent Canadian Survey on Business Conditions was released which shows that COVID-19 had a more severe impact on diversity-owned businesses:
However, if they can weather the crisis, the data indicate that each group expects to rebound in a similar time and fashion as other businesses across the country.
Further, there are several notable data points demonstrating innovation and ingenuity:
- 71.14% of diversity-owned businesses experienced a high drop in demand, compared with the national average (64.8%)
- 34.74% of diversity-owned businesses experienced a 50% or more decrease in revenue, compared with the national average (26.2%)
- 51.06% of diversity-owned businesses said they could remain open for no longer than 60 days without a source of revenue, compared with the national average (42.2%)
- 48.92% of diversity-owned businesses said they could remain open for no longer than 3 months amid social distancing, compared with the national average (39.7%).
- Indigenous-owned and visible minority-owned businesses have tested or used R&D at a higher rate (11.1% and 8.6%) than national average (5.7%)
- 17% of businesses owned by those with disabilities tested or used e-commerce during the crisis compared to the national average (11.6%)
- Women-owned business have increased investment in training and education at a higher rate (16.2%) than the national average (11.3%)
Federal support for farmers, food businesses, and food processors
The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau announced an investment of more than $252 million to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors.
For more information please see the news release
- $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund to help food producers access more PP), adapt to health protocols, automate or modernize their facilities, processes, and operations, and respond to emerging pressures.
- $125 million in funding to help producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19. This includes set-asides for cattle and hog management programs to manage livestock backed-up on farms, due to the temporary closure of food processing plants.
- Increase the Canadian Dairy Commission’s borrowing limit by $200 million to support costs associated with the temporary storage of cheese and butter to avoid food waste.
- Creation of a Surplus Food Purchase Program (initial $50 million) designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories such as potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.
Most Canadians comfortable with pace of easing restrictions: poll
77% of Canadians happy with COVID-19 measures, but only 43% of Americans feel same about their government. The poll, conducted by Leger and the Association for Canadian Studies between May 1 and 3, surveyed 1,526 adult Canadians and 1,002 adult Americans randomly recruited from its online panel. The internet-based survey cannot be assigned a margin of error because online polls are not considered random samples.
People in most provinces taking steps to reopen were between 60 and 70 per cent supportive of those moves, while 16 to 30 per cent would like to see their government slow down a little. Some provinces have already begun loosening physical distancing measures put in place as the growth in the number of COVID-19 cases started picking up steam in March.
In Quebec, which has the highest number of COVID-19 cases in Canada, the province is allowing some retail stores to reopen outside of Montreal with an eye to reopen the manufacturing and construction sectors next week. On Monday it pushed back the reopening of non-essential stores in the Montreal area at least another week.
Ontario, with the second-highest number of confirmed cases in the country, is allowing the partial reopening of some seasonal businesses.
Manitoba has gone even further, allowing slightly restricted access to libraries, museums, and restaurant patios.
But in Alberta, which plans to allow certain retail stores, restaurants and daycare centres to reopen as early as May 14, people seem less comfortable with how quickly things are moving. There, 50 per cent of respondents would like the province to slow down.
Visits to Canadian Retailers are down 76% during COVID-19 Pandemic
In Canada, PiinPoint’s Mobile Location Data shows that visits to retailers are down 76% from this time last year. Not surprisingly, the data shows that restaurants have been hit the hardest, experiencing a 95% drop in visits when compared to the same period last year, given the strict business closures that have been enforced by provincial and federal governments. Those eateries with an option for drive-thru service, such as fast-food restaurants, are seeing a 70% decrease in visits.
Banks, clothing, and home decor stores reflect a similar impact as restaurants, with an 89% drop in visits, while electronic and office supply stores have seen an 82% decrease in visits. With stay-at-home measures in place and few people driving to work, gas stations have seen a 90% decrease in visitors, despite record low gas prices.
Home Improvement stores have taken a hit with a 35% decrease in visits, and that number is expected to increase as many stores have been forced to move to curbside pickup only.
Grocery stores initially saw a massive increase in visits leading up to the COVID-19 pandemic announcement, as people stocked up on supplies. Amidst the battles for toilet paper and panic-buying, there was a surge of visits to Grocery stores, peaking at a 196% increase on March 23 when compared to the previous year. However, following the stock-up period and this large increase, visits are still down 27% year over year.
For the full report
Reminder: CERB recipients must reapply for further benefits
Canadians who are receiving income from the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) must reapply for another four weeks of benefits. The CERB offers $500 per week for Canadians who’ve lost work due to the COVID-19 pandemic up to a maximum of 16 weeks, but recipients must confirm their eligibility for the program every four weeks.
The renewal payments are not automatic, meaning anyone who applied for CERB between April 6 and April 10 will need to reapply for the benefit. For the upcoming wave of payments, CERB recipients born in January, February or March can begin applying on May 11, those born in April, May or June can begin to apply on May 12, those born in July, August or September can begin on May 13 and those born in October, November or December can begin their application on May 14, according to the Canada Revenue Agency website .
To qualify for the benefit, Canadians must be at least 15 years of age and have been forced out of work due to the pandemic. They must also have earned at least $5,000 in the previous calendar year and now expect to make less than $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB payments.
Recipients can reapply for the benefit either online or by calling 1 (800) 959-2019.
Canada has entered a recession due to pandemic: C.D. Howe
Canada has officially entered a recession due to the economic devastation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, the C.D. Howe Institute's Business Cycle Council declared Friday .
The council said the economy peaked in February before the steps taken to slow the spread of the coronavirus brought the economy to a standstill. The C.D. Howe council defines a recession as a pronounced, persistent, and pervasive decline in aggregate economic activity and it looks at both GDP and employment as its main measures.
The March jobs report showed more than a million jobs were lost in the month, while a preliminary estimate by Statistics Canada suggested the economy contracted by nine per cent in the same month.
Statistics Canada reported Thursday that economic growth had stalled going into the crisis, with real gross domestic product essentially unchanged in February due to teacher strikes in Ontario and rail blockades across many parts of the country.
Tiff Macklem appointed the next Governor of the Bank of Canada
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has appointed Tiff Macklem , the former senior deputy governor of the Bank of Canada, to take over the top job at the central bank. Macklem is currently the dean of the Rotman School of Management in Toronto but had spent decades with the Bank of Canada before starting that appointment. Macklem began his career at the bank in 1984. He was widely expected to win the contest for bank governor in 2013, but was beaten out by Stephen Poloz, who was then CEO of Export Development Canada.
Poloz's term as Governor of the Bank of Canada ends June 2.
Federal deficit could top $252 billion, says Parliamentary budget officer
Parliament's budget watchdog says it's likely the federal deficit for the year will hit $252.1 billion as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic — and could go even higher if emergency measures remain in place longer than planned.
The figure is an estimate based on the almost $146 billion in spending measures the government has announced to help cushion the economic blow from the pandemic, estimated declines in the country's gross domestic product and the price of oil remaining well below previous expectations.
Parliamentary budget officer Yves Giroux's report assumes real GDP will contract by 12 per cent this year and help push the federal debt-to-GDP ratio to 48.4 per cent. The report says the estimates are one possible scenario if current public health measures remain in place or are slowly — but not entirely — lifted over the rest of the calendar year.
Federal government clarifies Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program is based on Gross Rent
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses provides much needed relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75% for the months of April, May and June, 2020.
Today the federal government confirmed that the rent rebate program will apply to the monthly gross rent. When the program was originally releases on Friday April 24 the focus was on base rent and it was unclear if Common Area Maintenance (CAM) plus Taxes or Taxes, Maintenance, Insurance (TMI).
To qualify, “impacted small business tenants are businesses, including non-profit and charitable organizations who:
** To measure revenue loss, small businesses can compare revenues in April, May and June of 2020 to that of the same month of 2019. They can also use an average of their revenues earned in January and February of 2020.”
The CFA is working with the federal government to get a better understanding of what the “ultimate parent level” means for franchisors and franchisees under the program.
Click here for the CMHC program criteria
- pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location (as defined by a valid and enforceable lease agreement),
- generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, calculated on a consolidated basis (at the ultimate parent level), and
- have temporarily ceased operations (i.e. generating no revenues), or has experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues.**
Canadian Chamber/StatsCan Survey – Half of all Businesses See a Decline of 20% or More in Revenue due to Covid-19
The Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC), a joint effort between Statistics Canada and the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, provides the most detailed insight yet into the impact of COVID-19 on Canadian businesses. Many CFA members contributed to the report by providing information to the survey.
Nearly one-third (32.3%) of businesses who responded to the survey reported that their revenues from the first quarter of 2020 were down by 40% or more from the same quarter a year earlier. Another 21.2% of businesses reported their revenues had decreased by 20% to 40% over the same period.
Businesses in the accommodation and food services (72.6%), arts, entertainment and recreation (66.7%) and retail trade (60.3%) sectors were most likely to report a decline in revenue greater than 20%. In contrast, just over two-fifths of businesses in each of the agriculture, forestry, fishing and hunting (42.0%) and the utilities (40.4%) sectors reported either no change or an increase in revenue.
Across the country, over half of businesses in Alberta (57.7%), Ontario (56.3%), British Columbia (54.8%), Newfoundland and Labrador (53.5%) and Saskatchewan (52.8%) saw declines of 20% or more in revenue. In contrast, close to one-third of businesses in Prince Edward Island (33.1%), the territories (32.4%) and New Brunswick (30.3%) reported either no change or an increase in revenue.
Change in business revenue in Q1 2020 compared to Q1 2019
- 10.5% experienced an increase in revenue
- 14.3% saw no change in revenue
- 17.9% experienced a decrease in revenue of up to 20%
- 53.5% experienced a decrease in revenue of over 20%
Staffing decisions taken as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
- 38.1% have reduced staff hours or shifts
40.5% have laid off staff
For more information
MPs convene first special virtual sitting
Members of Parliamentmet for the first time virtually April 28 during the all-party special committee on COVID-19. These virtual sittings will take place on Tuesdays and Thursdays, until at least May 25, as parliamentarians find new ways to maintain accountability while physical distancing.
Federal health officials update projections
Trudeau spoke ahead of a Tuesday afternoon briefing from federal health officials, who delivered revised modelling and forecasts for COVID-19 in Canada.
Get the details of the federal COVID-19 modelling update.
The new modelling shows that while the number of new cases was doubling every three days previously, it is now doubling every 16 days. Short-term projections predict between 53,191 and 66,835 cases by May 5, and between 3,277 and 3,883 deaths by that date.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – Keep in mind CRA will be enforcing strict compliance criteria
As of April 27, 2020, online applications have opened for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). The CEWS provides a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks and is retroactive to March 15, 2020. The subsidy will be available at a rate of 75% of weekly remuneration paid to a maximum of $847 per employee. Your business must have experienced a drop of at least 15% of revenue in March 2020 and 30% for April 2020 and/or May 2020 to qualify for this subsidy.
The Federal Government has implemented severe penalties if a business is found not to have met to the CEWS eligibility requirements after receiving the subsidy. Audits will be conducted by the Canada Revenue Agency to verify the amounts related to the subsidy including revenue and salary calculations. If a business is not compliant with the rules, the consequences can include:
Furthermore, the individuals who have the principal responsibility for the financial activities must attest that the application is complete and accurate. As such, the individual(s) that make the attestation can be held personally responsible for the application that is filed and will also be subject to penalties for incorrect and/or fraudulent claims.
The CRA intends to publish the name of any eligible employer that makes an application for the wage subsidy and share information with government officials for the purposes of administration and enforcement of the Canada Emergency Benefit Act.
- repayment of amounts received
- significant fines of up to 25% of the CEWS received (and up to an additional 200% in the case of fraudulent claims)
- penalties for up to five years in prison for individuals who submitted fraudulent claims
Federal projected spending on direct supports due to COVID-19 hits $145B
The federal government's latest projection of how much it will spend on direct support for Canadians to get through the COVID-19 crisis has now reached more than $145.6 billion. Those direct support programs account for approximately one fifth of the overall tally of the measures the government has announced related to the pandemic.
Ottawa estimates that overall total — including measures to protect Canadians health and safety and to provide business and tax liquidity support as well as the direct support for individuals, businesses and sectors — amounts to more than $817 billion.
But much of that is not spending that will end up on the books. For example, a large portion, $300 billion, is a measure by the Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OFSI) to free up capital for the banks.
Another big part of that overall total are tax deferrals and credit and loan guarantee programs:
But while there is a cost associated with those programs, deferrals, credit support and monetary measures essentially just put off when the government gets paid.
- Credit and liquidity supports through the Bank of Canada and CMHC are projected at $200 billion.
- Income and sales tax deferrals are estimated at $85 billion.
- Liquidity support for businesses, homeowners and the agricultural sector is estimated at more than $286 billion.
The additional emergency funding and the direct support measures that will have the biggest impact on the deficit and debt in the government's financial books.
- $73 billion: Canada emergency wage subsidy
- $35 billion: Canada emergency relief benefit
- $15.3 billion: Canada emergency business account
- $5.5 billion: GST credits
- $9 billion: Financial aid to students
- $1.7 billion: Orphan well clean up
Commercial Rent Assistance Program Badly Misses the Mark!
Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced the new rent subsidy program, jointly funded by the provinces, that is supposed to help businesses (franchised businesses are included in the program).
- The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
- The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent.
- Businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations
- Businesses who have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
- Support for larger businesses will be announced in the coming days.
- The CECRA is expected to be operational by mid-May, with commercial property owners lowering the rents of their small business tenant’s payable for the months of April and May, retroactively, and for June.
CFA does not think this will help many
Based on our read of the program details the assistance only affects a tenant’s base rent with no support or rebate of the Taxes, Maintenance, Insurance (TMI) that all commercial tenants pay. As CFA members know the TMI is often 50% of a business’s accommodation costs.
Here is a link to the program details which are contained in the News Release from the PM.
The CFA will be looking at our options but we will continue to push for governments across Canada (federal and provincial) to provide real commercial rent relief.
Other Stakeholder Reaction
Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB): Welcomed the rent relief program but warned that it may be too complicated and too reliant on landlords to administer.
Restaurants Canada: Very encouraged by PM, JustinTrudeau, April 24th announcement on rent support for small businesses. No eviction provision is there as is direct help to operators. Restaurants are included. Good thing.
Ontario Chamber of Commerce: “We applaud both the Canadian and Ontario governments for their leadership to provide rent relief to avoid the mass closure of small and medium-sized enterprises across the province. Speed will be of the essence to get this delivered to those in need quickly. This program will help tenants by lowering the rent burden and protecting against evictions, while supporting landlords who also have bills to pay.”
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Portal Opens April 27
The Canada Revenue Agency will open the application process on April 27. CEWS claims will be subject to verification by the CRA, therefore the CRA will begin to release funds for approved applications on May 5. To get ready, the CRA has released instructions on what you need to do, a wage subsidy calculator and enhanced eligibility information.
The Subsidy is NOT first come, first serve. It is available to all business who apply so business do not need to apply on Monday out of fear of missing out.
The CRA expects the first cheques to be issued during the week of May 4. They have added 2000 people to their call centre to answer questions and process applications.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Information Page
$1.1B for medical research and vaccine development
Prime Minister Trudeau announced the government will be investing an additional $1.1 billion for a national medical research strategy. The new funding will invest in three primary areas, including research on vaccines, supports for clinical trials, and an expansion of testing and modelling.
More specifically, approximately $115 million of the $1.1 billion is being invested in research to develop vaccines and treatments in universities and hospitals across the country. An estimated $662 million will also be provided to support clinical trials in Canada. While the vaccine is a long-term solution to the virus, $350 million dollars is being invested to expand national testing and modelling in the immediate term.
For more information please see the News Release.
Update on Federal Program Uptake
Finally, Treasury Board President Jean Yves Duclos also provided a brief update on government support programs,
- 8.9 million applications have now been received for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.
- 351 small businesses have received approvals for loans under the Small Business Emergency Relief Fund
Friendly reminder – CERB is a taxable benefit
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides Canadians whose jobs have been affected by the COVID-19 with $2000 per month for up to 4 months.
The CERB is a taxable benefit so anyone receiving that funding will be expected to report it as income when you file your income tax for the 2020 tax year.
Unlike most standard paycheques, CERB payments do not have income tax deducted before they are sent out. The federal government has set the lowest tax rate for 2020 at 15 per cent. That means anyone who earns $48,535 or less in total income for the year will owe tax on their CERB monies. A recipient who earns the maximum benefit of $8,000 will have to repay $1,200 at tax time. Provincial and territorial income tax rates will also apply.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) portal will open April 27, 2020
The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) announced that applications under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy will open on April 27. The Subsidy is NOT first come, first serve. It is available to all business who apply so business do not need to apply on Monday out of fear of missing out.
The CRA expects the first cheques to be issued during the week of May 4. They have added 2000 people to their call centre to answer questions and process applications.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Information Page
$9B in funding for students under the new Canada Emergency Student Benefit
On April 22, the Prime Minister announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit, a $9 billion package of new measures aimed at helping young people. The benefit will give eligible postsecondary students $1,250 a month from May to August. For students taking care of someone else or have a disability, that amount increases to $1,750 monthly.
College and university students currently in school, planning to start in September, or who graduated in December 2019 are eligible.
Working students earning less than $1,000 per month can also apply for the CESB.
The benefit will require additional legislation and talks are now underway about how quickly a bill to implement this new program can be brought forward.
Specifically, the federal government is also:
- Creating an additional 76,000 jobs for young people in sectors that need an extra hand right now, or that are on the frontlines of this pandemic;
- Investing more than $291 million to extend scholarships, fellowships, and grants for three or four months;
- Launching a new Canada Student Service Grant of between $1,000 and $5,000 for students volunteering in the COVID-19 fight;
- Providing more than $75 million to specifically increase support for First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation students; and
- Doubling the student grants that the government gives out for the 2020-21 school year.
New Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator released
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator
Details leaking out about Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
According to the Prime Minister’s announcement last week Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. We are working with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic and we will have more details to share soon.
In his media conference today, Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister said Tuesday that the province will participate in a forthcoming federal program to help commercial tenants cover rent during the pandemic. Manitoba will contribute $16 million to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program, Pallister said, although details are scarce about how the program will work once implemented.
MPs pass motion to hold in-person, virtual sittings
Yesterday MPs have passed a motion to hold both in-person and virtual meetings to question and debate the government's response to the COVID-19 crisis. The motion formally adjourns the House of Commons until May 25. A special committee — with every MP a member — will meet once weekly in person. Virtual meetings will occur online twice a week once technological and procedural issues have been worked out.
MPs defeated a proposed amendment from the Conservatives which called for two in-person sitting days, on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.
Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said that doing away with 80 per cent of sitting days does not serve the best interests of Canadians and that more in-person sessions would yield better results in terms of accountability, oversight and proposals from opposition parties. Scheer suggested Trudeau is dodging accountability, preferring the "controlled" environment of daily news conferences outside his residence at Rideau Cottage to opposition questions in the House of Commons.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet accused the Conservatives of holding Parliament "hostage."
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said regular in-person sessions are important to the work of addressing gaps in programs meant to support Canadians and businesses struggling financially through the health crisis, including students.
$350M support fund for community groups helping vulnerable people
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau today announced $350 million in emergency funds for community groups and national charities that help seniors, the homeless and others made more vulnerable by the pandemic. The funds will support community groups through national organizations such as the United Way Canada, the Canadian Red Cross and the Community Foundations of Canada.
The funds will support such activities as:
- Volunteer-based home delivery of groceries and medications.
- Transportation services, such as those driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments.
- Scaling up help lines that provide information and support.
- Helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits.
- Delivering training and supplies to volunteers.
- Replacing in-person, one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through telephone, texts, teleconferences or the Internet.
Parliament returned on April 20, 2020
Between 36 and 40 MPs, including the House Speaker, have been in the House of Commons for today's sitting, which included a question period.
Over the weekend the Liberal government reached a tentative deal with the NDP and Bloc Québécois to have one in-person sitting per week. The Conservatives rejected the idea, insisting on more regular meetings each week. Conservatives proposed having two sitting days per week (Tuesdays and Thursdays).
Scheer suggested Trudeau prefers the "controlled" environment of daily news conferences outside his residence at Rideau Cottage to opposition questions in the House of Commons.
Bloc Québécois Leader Yves-François Blanchet accused the Conservatives of holding Parliament "hostage."
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh said regular in-person sessions are important to the work of addressing gaps in programs meant to support Canadians and businesses struggling financially through the health crisis, including students.
Canada-U.S. agree to extend border restrictions by 30 days
Canada and the United States have agreed to extend the current closure of the border to all non-essential travel for at least another month. It's been nearly a month since the two countries negotiated their 30-day agreement that exempted the flow of trade and commerce, as well as vital health-care workers such as nurses who live and work on opposite sides of the border. That agreement was due to expire in a few days.
$1.4 billion for regional economic development and cultural/sport organizations
Earlier today the Prime Minister announced $1.4 billion in supports for regional economic development agencies and for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.
- $675 million to support their work of the six RDAs (the Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency, Western Economic Diversification Canada, FedNor, FedDev Ontario, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions and the Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency) to provide equivalent bridge financing support to businesses unable to access the government’s broader support measures.
- $287 million for the Community Futures Network, funded through the RDAs, to support rural businesses and communities, including through access to capital.
- $500 million in Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations to help them address their financial needs. This funding will be administered by Canadian Heritage via contribution agreements.
All air passengers need to wear non-medical masks starting Monday
Starting on Monday, all air passengers in Canada have to wear non-medical masks or a face covering that goes over their mouth and nose, or risk being denied boarding Transport Canada has announced.
Effective at noon on April 20, it’ll be required that anyone travelling through an airport or on an airplane wear a mask, including when going through screening checkpoints where the screeners are unable to keep two metres distance between themselves and the traveller.
For travellers looking to depart from, or arrive in Canada, it will be mandatory that they have a non-medical mask or adequate face covering during the boarding process or they will not be allowed to travel.
Virtual Canada Day party this year
With gatherings banned due to the coronavirus pandemic, this year's Canada Day celebrations will take place online, the federal government announced Friday. Canadian Heritage Minister Stephen Guilbeault said his department is working with artists to create a virtual show on July 1. The lineup for the Canada Day show is normally released about a month before July 1.
ICBC is temporarily waiving a number of fees
Drivers who choose to suspend their insurance won't have to pay the usual $30 cancellation and $18 re-plating fees. In a statement, ICBC says drivers who cancel must remove their licence plates from their vehicle but can reuse the same plates as long as they reinsure after May 30. Those who do so earlier will be issued new plates for free.
Companies that own fleets of cars are also eligible to suspend their insurance.
With many businesses now switching to delivery models, ICBC says drivers don't need to change their insurance or pay higher premiums. Previously, additional insurance was required.
Big changes to the CEBA program
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has announced the federal government is also opening up the eligibility criteria the Canada Emergency Business Account. The program, targeted at small- and medium-sized businesses, offers government-guaranteed loans of up to $40,000 to cover the costs of keeping their enterprise afloat during the COVID-19 crisis.
Today the PM lowered the threshold. Now, companies who paid between $20,000 and $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019 will be eligible to receive a loan (still based on T4 income). Under the first iteration of the program business were required to have a payroll of $50,000 to $1 million based on their 2019 T4 Summary.
This should help many more CFA members qualify for the CEBA loans.
Since the banks began accepting applications, they have approved more than 195,000 loans worth about than $7.5 billion.
To apply for a CEBA loan you must work through your financial institution where you do your day to day business banking.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program being developed
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau also announced a new assistance program meant to help businesses offset monthly rent. The Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program will help small businesses offset rent in April, May and June, Trudeau said during his daily COVID-19 address. Ottawa will work with provinces to roll out the program, as it falls under provincial jurisdiction.
The announcement was made in conjunction with plans to loosen eligibility requirements to the Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA), in order to aid more small- and medium-sized businesses struggling with the fallout of the pandemic.
CFA is working to try and find out some details. Please stay tuned.
DEADLINE APPROACHING: Canadian Survey of Business Conditions
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce and Statistics Canada have released the Canadian Survey of Business Conditions (CSBC). The CSBC will examine the impact of COVID-19 on businesses, changes that businesses have made to adapt, challenges they continue to face and anticipated challenges as recovery begins. Click here to complete the survey.
If you have not already done so, we encourage you to complete the survey and share with businesses in your network. The survey deadline has been extended to Wednesday, April 22.
Complete the survey
Conference Board of Canada - Provincial Outlook Spring 2020 – Preliminary Forecast
The Conference Board released its preliminary Spring 2020 forecast which estimates that real GDP declined at an annualized pace of nearly 5 per cent in the first quarter. In the second quarter, the decline in GDP is forecast to hit 25 per cent. This will be the steepest quarterly decline in economic output on record, based on modern statistics that date back to 1961.
Real-time economic data shows Canada frozen in time
Real Time Economic Data
Changes to CERB – you can still work and collect
Today Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced it was changing the CERB eligibility rules to:
• Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
• Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
• Extend the CERB to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
The government will be working with provinces to increase pay of essential retail workers who make less than $2,500 a month.
These changes will be retroactive to March 15, 2020. More details will be posted on the portal shortly.
Quebec and British Columbia have already implemented direct wage support for low-income workers in the essential service sectors. The federal government will now be sharing the cost of this wage support through the new transfer to these provinces.
Rent Support – expecting an announcement from the federal government soonAn announcement on rent support will be coming soon. CFA has been trying to learn more about the types of support but officials and political staff have been tight-lipped about the program.
Bank of Canada holds rate steady at 0.25% - no plans to go lower
The Bank of Canada kept its benchmark interest rate steady at 0.25 per cent on Wednesday,
The bank says it thinks economic activity in the period between April and June will be between 15 and 30 per cent lower than it was at the end of 2019 due to widespread lockdowns, layoffs and other drastic measures will have a dramatic impact on Canada's economy in the months ahead.
The central bank said its release that it considers the current level of its rate to be its "effective lower bound." That means the bank doesn't have any plans to cut the rate to zero or into negative territory, despite the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic that has devastated Canada's economy.
While the bank is signalling it doesn't see a scenario where it would put its rate into negative territory, the bank says it is doing a lot of other things beyond interest-rate reductions to help support the economy such as buying up more bonds and other debts to help keep the economy running.
Last month, the Bank of Canada announced it would buy $5 billion worth of federal government debt every week in order to support the economy. On Wednesday, it said it would keep doing that but also buy up to $50 billion worth of provincial debt and up to $10 billion worth of corporate debt in order to ensure there is enough of what central bankers refer to as "liquidity".
Home sales fell 14% in March
Home sales fell by 14 per cent in March as COVID-19 lockdowns slowed the market according to the Canadian Real Estate Association. Sales were down just about everywhere from February's level, including in the following cities:
The average sale price largely unchanged from February. March started strong and then froze in the second half. Preliminary data from the first week of April suggest both sales and new listings were only about half of what would be normal for that time of year.
Year over year the average price in March 2020 was up by 12.5 per cent compared to the average seen in March 2019.
- Greater Toronto Area, down 20.8 per cent.
- Montreal, down 13.3 per cent.
- Greater Vancouver Area, down 2.9 per cent.
- Fraser Valley, down 13.6 per cent.
- Calgary, down 26.3 per cent.
- Edmonton, down 13.2 per cent.
- Winnipeg, down 7.3 per cent.
- Hamilton-Burlington, down 24.9 per cent.
- Ottawa, down 7.9 per cent.
IMF sees worst global recession since 1930s, Canada’s economy to shrink 6.2%
The global economy has entered a recession as a result of the novel coronavirus and that the situation is “way worse than the global financial crisis according to International Monetary Fund (IMF) managing director Kristalina Georgieva.
The world economy in 2020 will suffer its worst year since the Great Depression of the 1930s, the International Monetary Fund says in its latest forecast. Data from the fund’s forecast show Canada’s economy being hit harder than countries like the U.S. and Japan but surviving the blow better than others like Italy, Spain, Germany, France and the U.K.
The IMF said it expects the global economy to shrink 3 per cent this year — far worse than its 0.1 per cent dip in the Great Recession year of 2009 — before rebounding in 2021 with 5.8 per cent growth. It acknowledges, though, that prospects for a rebound next year are clouded by uncertainty.
Top Line Report
IMF Full Report
Parliament returns to pass wage subsidy
Parliament passed the federal government's wage subsidy legislation Saturday night, on April 11, after an emergency sitting that saw MPs applauding collaboration between parliamentarians of all political stripes.
The legislation cleared both chambers of Parliament after days of protracted negotiations between the government and opposition parties produced an agreement to pass a bill that will flow billions of dollars to companies during the COVID-19 crisis.
While the Conservatives said they still have some issues with the implementation of the $73-billion wage subsidy, they agreed to waive normal parliamentary procedure to get the legislation through the Commons in a single day to allow bureaucrats to start sending money to businesses in need. Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer said his party's support for the legislation was conditional on the government agreeing to more accountability measures — namely allowing more parliamentary committees to meet throughout this pandemic. One of those committees will be tasked with studying whether Parliament can meet virtually in the weeks ahead.
Emergency benefits start rolling out
As the government worked on changes to the wage subsidy, applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) launched this week with millions of people applying for the benefit.
Trudeau said the government will expand the CERB to cover some of those who don’t yet qualify. He said the government is looking to provide additional support to those who’ve had their hours cut back due to COVID-19 and for those who are currently working but are making less money than they would under the CERB.
He also promised more help to post-secondary students and announced changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program, including increasing the program’s wage subsidy to 100 per cent.
Federal government releases public health modelling data
Earlier today the national COVID-19 modelling projections were officially released by Health Canada. Health Canada used two different modelling scenarios: forecasting – which uses actual data on cases seen in Canada to estimate future cases for the week ahead – and dynamic modelling – which is a longer-term prediction of cases using existing knowledge of how the virus behaves.
The forecasting model predicts there will be between 22,580 and 31,850 cases of COVID-19 in Canada by April 16. Based on the case fatality rate to date, we can anticipate there will be between 500 and 700 total deaths by next week.
The dynamic model assumes that everyone is susceptible and includes various stages of the disease. Health Canada uses as much available scientific information as possible to predict the potential range of people that may be affected. At a high-level, the modelling found that:
At this time, it is still too early to know if we are at the peak of this crisis but maintaining current measures – including strong social distancing – will help continue planking the curve. If you’re interested in reviewing the modelling, you can access Health Canada’s slide deck here.
- With no public health measures: A majority of the population (70-80%) would be infected with over 300,000 deaths anticipated.
- With some public health measures: Between 25-50% of the population infected and over 100,000 likely deaths.
- With strong public health measures: Approximately 1 to 10% of the population infected and between 11,000 and 22,000 deaths if infection remains between 2.5% and 5%.
More businesses now eligible for the 75% wage subsidy Today, Finance Minister Bill Morneau announced a number of changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). That will have a significantly impact on CFA members
To qualify business only must be down 15% in March – The benchmark has been changed for March so businesses who saw a drop in gross revenues of at least 15 per cent in March, and 30 per cent in April and May will qualify for the 75% wage subsidy.
100% refund on EI, CPP, QPP, QPIP contributions for employees who are on leave with pay – The government is also going to give eligible employers a 100-per-cent refund for certain employer contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan paid in respect of employees who are on leave with pay.
Start Ups and New Businesses Are Now Eligible – Not-for-profits, high growth companies and new businesses may now be eligible if they have seen a drop in gross revenues of at least 15 per cent in March, and 30 per cent in April and May compared to an average of their revenue from January and February 2020.
Businesses who have been in business since March 2019 will still have to use those revenues to determine if they are eligible.
For more information please click here
Intake for the Canada Emergency Business Account starts on April 9
The intake for the CEBA loans begins on April 9. CEBA loans will provide interest free loans of up to $40,000 to help pay for operating costs that can’t be deferred as a result of COVID 19. $10,000 (25%) of the $40,000 loan is eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022. If the loan cannot be repaid by December 31, 2022, it can be converted into a 3 year term loan at an interest rate of 5%.
To qualify business will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019 – based on their 2019 T4SUM Summary of Remuneration Paid. Businesses must agree to use funds from this line of credit to pay for operating costs that cannot be deferred, such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, and property tax.
How to apply – Businesses should apply through the financial institution that holds their primary business operating account.
CFA is lobbying for the program to be expanded so businesses can get one loan per active business location not per corporate entity.