Basics, Wellness

COVID-19: Benefits for small businesses and the self-employed

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COVID-19 is a health crisis, but it will have immediate and lasting impacts on your financial health. This article is meant to help Canadian small businesses pay employees, access loans, understand benefits and survive the coronavirus crisis.

Update (April 8, 2020):

Are you self-employed?

You are most likely eligible for coverage through EI or the CERB. Check out the link below.

READ: COVID-19: Applying for EI and Other Income Benefits

Do you run a business?

Special Emergency Business Account

  • offered by banks

  • $40K government-guaranteed loans

  • interest-free for the first year

  • 25% of loaned amount, or first $10K (if full 40K) will be forgiven if paid back by Dec 31, 2022.

  • Need to demonstrate that you paid between $50K and $1m in total payroll in 2019.

Also, HST and GST payments being deferred to June for businesses and self-employed individuals. Learn more about these specifics of the HST/GST deferral here. Details on support for Canadian businesses here.

Administrative income tax actions that were due after March 18, 2020 can be deferred until June 1, 2020. These include returns, elections, designations and info requests. Payroll deductions payments and all related activities are excluded.

Ontario deferring Workplace Safety and Insurance Board premium payments and cease interest accrual on outstanding payments. until Aug 31. Coverage will remain the same. This does not require an opt-in. Details here.

Business Credit Availability Program

  • Offered through EDC and BDC or your financial institution.

  • Reduced rates on new loans

  • working capital loans up to $2m with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months

Full overview here.

Deals for Businesses on vendors, web design, HR, tools and more

If you have employees

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy for small and mid-size businesses: (UPDATED!)

What we know:

  • qualifying businesses will be subsidized by 75% (of the first $58,700) of wages of employees to keep them on staff

  • eligible companies must demonstrate that their revenues have decreased by at least 15%. in March or 30% in April and May. Assessment is based on your revenue in March compared to previous months.

  • The difference can be measured on revenues as they are earned or as they are received.

  • The reduction in revenues does not currently need to be related to COVID-19

  • open to companies of all sizes, including non-profits, charities, and regardless of employee number

  • backdated to March 15

  • directly paid to the employer even if you are not operating at this time to be able to continue paying employees

  • Available to non-profts too!

  • no ceiling/maximum per employer at this time

  • Great FAQ set here

10 % Wage Subsidy Program

  • If you don’t qualify for the program above, you may still qualify for this one

  • 10% of what you would pay your employee from March 18 – June 19

  • Max of $1,375 per eligible employee and max $25K per employer

  • See updated FAQ here to learn more about how to remit, eligibility and records required.

100% Coverage of Canada Summer Job Grant

The federal government will cover 100% of wages for students hired under the Canada Summer Jobs Program.

The temporary changes to the program for this year include:

  • an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee

  • an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021

  • allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services

  • allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis

  • Details to come on the application process, which is currently closed for employers, but which may re-open.

The Work Sharing Program is an adjustment program to help employers and employees avoid layoffs due to temporary reductions in business activity. Essentially, it allows Service Canada, the employer and the employee to agree to a reduced schedule of work to allow different employees to share the money remaining.

  • Extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.

  • Reduce the requirement and expand eligibility to employers affected by accepting business who have been in business for only one year rather than two.

  • Mandatory cooling off period has been waived for employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program so that eligible employers may immediately enter into a new agreement.

  • Simplified application process changes:

  • No requirement for a recovery plan, rather a single line of text within the application form will be accepted

  • Email approval process

  • Financial documents will no longer need to be filled out

  • Eliminating the requirements for employees to sign off on the Work-Sharing application. The application only requires the name of the employer and one company representative to sign off on the application.

  • No multiple amendments will be required to be submitted – only forms 5100 and 5101.

  • New resources have also been allocated to support the high volumes of applications.

Eligibility for Work Share:

  • Have you been in business in Canada year-round for at least two years?

  • Are you a private business, a publicly held company or non-for-profit organization?

  • Can you show a decrease in business activity of approximately 10%?

  • Are you employees eligible to receive Employment Insurance benefits?

  • Will your employees agree to a reduction of their normal working hours?

  • Do you have a minimum of two employees?

Provincial Benefits


British Columbia

Newfoundland and Labrador

Nova Scotia


Prince Edward Island


Managing Your Money During the Covid-19 Crisis

READ: The UItimate Financial Guide to COVID-19: How to Protect your Finances During the Coronavirus Crisis

We cannot stress enough how critical it is to eliminate any unnecessary expenses at this time. Conserve your cash, do not buy anything you don’t need, recalculate your budget to reflect your new reality. As we don’t know how long or how severe the isolation will be, it is going to be critical to make the money you have now work best for you. Organizations that are employing workers today may not be able to continue doing so. Consider living on less, try a no-spend month, order in food less and, if possible, find ways to reduce your bills.

Utility companies for power, cable, internet, hydro, gas and more are offering different measures to help their clients through the crisis. Take the time to reduce expenses where you can.

Remember, just because there is an announcement of refunds, it doesn’t guarantee that you will get one. There are many cases of fine print or delays in these refunds. Now is the time to be very careful and focused on your financial life.

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