TAKING CARE OF EMPLOYEES AND ENTREPRENEURS
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the Government of Canada has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would cover Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). The Application Portal will be launched in early April. To learn more about the benefit, please read the News Release.
The Government of Canada is extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers. Learn More
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Government of Canada announced an up to 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll. The subsidy will apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by employees – representing a benefit of up to $847 per week. The program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020.
- Eligible employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, when compared to the same month in 2019, would be able to access the subsidy.
- Eligible employers would include employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy, with the exception of public sector entities.
- For non-profit organizations and registered charities similarly affected by a loss of revenue, the government will continue to work with the sector to ensure the definition of revenue is appropriate to their circumstances. The government is also considering additional support for non-profits and charities, particularly those involved in the front line response to COVID-19. Further details will be announced in the near term.
- An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees. All employers would be expected to at least make best efforts to top up salaries to 100% of the maximum wages covered.
Eligible employers would be able to access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. More details regarding how to apply for the program will follow.
Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10 per cent of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
Nova Scotia Tender Notice
Are you a business that can supply products and service in support of Nova Scotia’s response to COVID-19? If so, we want to hear from you. A procurement portal has been developed and includes a list of products and services we’re looking for. Learn More
Records of Employment
If your employees are directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and they are no longer working, you must issue a Record of Employment (ROE). You can order these forms through ROE Web.
- When the employee is sick or quarantined, use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation (block 16). Do not add comments.
- When the employee is no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), use code A (Shortage of work). Do not add comments.
- When the employee refuses to come to work but is not sick or quarantined, use code E (Quit) or code N (Leave of absence), as appropriate. Avoid adding comments unless absolutely necessary and get advice prior to issuing a code E or N in the current situation, as there could be legal or negative consequences for the employer if used inappropriately.
Tourism Accommodations Registry – The registry is now open for hosts to register their accommodations with the province of Nova Scotia. Click Here to access the Registry. However, in response to COVID-19 hosts will not have to pay a registration fee for 2020-21. In addition, the marketing platform registration page is also live here.
If COVID-19 is identified as a potential workplace hazard, parties have the duty to develop internal process to reduce risk to their staff. Employees should raise their concerns with their immediate supervisor / manager or Joint Occupational Health and Safety Committee. Those who have specific questions about safe working conditions, and whether LAE will continue to inspect worksites and schedule technical safety exams, should consult the department’s Safety Branch.
Labour Standards – Pay and Job Security
The NS Labour Standards Code provides job protection for employees who are unable to perform work due to an emergency as defined under the Code, including the recent Order. For specific questions about pay, job security and layoffs contact LAE’s Labour Standards Division or 1-888-315-0110.
Changes to the Registry of Joint Stocks
All Registry of Joint Stock Company (RJSC) renewals due in March, April and May 2020 have been extended to June 30, 2020. Name reservations, sole proprietorship and partnership registrations and annual renewals can be completed online.
Counter service is not available at this time. The Business Registration Unit, located on 6 North in the Maritime Centre, 1505 Barrington Street, Halifax, will have a dropbox in the building lobby for deliveries of documents for processing. Drop boxes are in place at Access Nova Scotia Centre locations in Yarmouth, Kentville, Bridgewater, Dartmouth, Amherst, Stellarton and Sydney to receive RJSC deliveries and will be delivered to the Maritime Centre for processing.
During this period, scanned copies of originally signed documents or digitally signed documents where the digital signature information is clearly readable when the document is printed, will be accepted. These scanned or digitally signed documents may be submitted via email to RJSC@novascotia.ca.
Emails containing a credit card number is automatically blocked for security reasons. Please provide a phone number of a contact person from whom to obtain the relevant credit card information to complete payment. Contact the RJSC directly at 902-424-7770 or 1-800-225-8227 with any questions.
Managing Financial Health in Challenging Times
We know that financial stressors have a tremendous impact on mental health. Families may be experiencing anxieties around finances, from how to maintain your lifestyle during this pandemic to first-hand hardship through loss of an income. Whatever the source, financial emergencies can be stressful and cause considerable hardship for you and your family. If you or someone in your circle is experiencing hardships, consider consulting this resource from the Financial Consumer Agency of Canada: COVID-19 – Managing financial health in challenging times.
ACCESS TO CREDIT
NSBI Funding Search Tool updated for COVID-19 – Through NSBI’s website, the Funding Search Tool now enables businesses to keyword search any funding tools locally and across the country specific to the current COVID challenges to business – just use the keyword COVID-19.
Business Credit Availability Program
The Government of Canada established a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to provide $65 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). BDC and EDC are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, exportation and tourism. This program includes:
- Canada Emergency Business Account – The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.
- Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – EDC is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.
- Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – BDC is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.
These programs will roll out in the three weeks after March 27, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions.
Nova Scotia Business Inc Small Business Development Program
NSBI has updated the Small Business Development Program to serve Nova Scotia businesses better. The program helps businesses work with a private consultant to overcome a pain point or barrier, or a business expert to help identify and develop the leadership skills needed to scale your company. Learn More
Increasing Credit Available to Farmers
The Government of Canada is supporting Farm Credit Canada by allowing an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. This will offer increased flexibility to farmers who face cashflow issues and to processors who are impacted by lost sales, helping them remain financially strong during this difficult time. Learn More
Canada’s Banks Announce Flexible Solutions
In a press release on March 26, Canada’s six largest banks have announced a coordinated relief program to ease financial pressures due to the spread of COVID-19. Bank customers will be offered “flexible solutions” to get them through economic uncertainties due to COVID-19. COVID-19 relief measures will be offered to personal and small business banking customers and may include longer amortization periods, up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages and credit card payments. Learn more
PAYMENT, RENT, AND TAX RELIEF
Deferring the Payment of Business Income Taxes
The Government of Canada is allowing all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. Learn More
Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments
The Government of Canada will allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), as well as customs duties owing on their imports. The deferral will apply to GST/HST remittances for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods for monthly filers; the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period for quarterly filers; and for annual filers, the amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year.
Rent Deferral Agreement
The Provincial Government is encouraging landlords to defer rent for their tenants. If you’re deferring rent because your tenant’s business is closed due to the Health Protection Act order, you could be eligible for coverage (up to a maximum of $50,000 per landlord and $15,000 per tenant) if you can’t recover the deferred rent. To be eligible for the COVID-19 Small Business Rental Deferral Guarantee Program, landlords must register with the Department of Business by emailing NSRentDeferral@novascotia.ca. The rent deferral agreement must be in place by 1 April and must be registered with the Department of Business by April 3. The Department of Business also provided a template to help set up the agreement. Learn More
Changes to Payments
The Provincial Government will defer payments until June 30 for all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.
- Government will defer payments until June 30 for small business renewal fees, including business registration renewal fees and workers compensation premiums (a list of fees will be posted online early next week).
- Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through credit unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30, enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000, and for those who might not qualify for a loan, government will guarantee the first $100,000.
- Small businesses which do business with the government will be paid within five days instead of the standard 30 days.
Nova Scotia Power Providing Options & Payment Relief
In an email to customers, NS Power President & CEO Wayne O’Connor issued the following statement: “We’ve been listening to you. We understand that many of you are concerned about the future, about employment insecurity and your ability to pay your bills. The last thing we want you to worry about is going without power during this tough time. We are here to help. For at least the next 90 days, we will not be disconnecting customers for nonpayment. We’re also committed to being flexible, relaxing payment timelines, waiving penalties and fees on unpaid bills, and providing options for residential and small business customers. If you’re struggling to pay your bill, our Customer Care team is ready to listen and work with you, so you can stay as current as possible with your payments. We also encourage those that can, to stay up to date with their payments. Not only will this avoid building up a balance, but it will help us support those who are most in need of financial assistance.”
He also announced a further donation of $500,000 to support customers through the HEAT Fund. The Home Energy Assistance Top-up (HEAT Fund) is available annually to individuals and families in Nova Scotia who live on a low income to help pay their energy bill. Customers can learn more about the program at nspower.ca/heatfund.
The Prime Minister warned Canadians about a text scam going around on the new emergency response benefit. Trudeau said Canadians should be looking at reliable sources for information on the pandemic and relief efforts, such as government websites. Learn more
Canadian Chamber and CIRA Cybersecurity Program
Canadians Should Be Vigilant for Scams Amid the Coronavirus Pandemic – As part of the Canadian Chamber’s Essential Business Services, they launched a cybersecurity program with CIRA, the non-profit that runs the .CA web domain. With more people working from home and many businesses switching to online operations, it is more important than ever that we remain vigilant for email phishing scams and other malicious cyber attacks. Learn more