Canadian federal and provincial governments offer relief to Business in response to COVID-19

Last updated on April 6, 2020

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to disrupt the economy and the day-to-day lives of Canadians, governments of all levels and their agencies, announce programs and take other actions in response. In addition to measures such as emergency measures, tax relief and financial support for individuals unable to work as a result of the pandemic, governments at the federal and provincial levels have announced various types of support for businesses.

Below we summarize some relevant support to businesses that the federal and provincial governments have announced as of April 5, 2020. This list is not exhaustive, and you should directly consult the government or agency sponsoring the initiative for specific information, or contact us for assistance.

Additional Resources:

For information regarding additional measures taken by government, please see the following additional resources:

For further information, please see our page regarding navigating the legal and business impacts of coronavirus.

 

Highlighted Government Support Initiatives

Federal and provincial governments have pledged various financial supports to businesses to ease the burden of the COVID-19 pandemic. Highlighted forms of relief announced to date include the following:

Federal

On March 25, 2020, Parliament passed into law a $107 billion emergency stimulus package originally announced March 18, 2020, including $52 billion in direct support for individuals and companies, and $55 billion in temporary tax deferrals for households and businesses. Measures announced to date to be provided to businesses include the following:

  • The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) will provide additional support to small and medium-sized businesses through the Business Credit Availability Program.

How to access: Companies should contact their financial institution, which will contact BDC/EDC where appropriate.

  • Employers who suffer a drop in gross revenues of at least 30% in March, April or May, may qualify for a 75% wage subsidy for employees. Parties who do not qualify for the 75% subsidy may still qualify for the previously announced 10% subsidy.

How to access: Information on the 75% subsidy, including how to apply, can be found here. Information on how to receive the 10% subsidy is available here.

How to access: Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institutions to apply for these loans.

How to access: Eligible financial institutions will conduct the underwriting and manage the interface with their customers.

  • The government has instituted industry-specific measures relating to agribusiness and the airline sector.

How to access: Agribusinesses are encouraged to contact their Farm Credit Corporation (“FCC”) relationship manager or FCC customer service at 1-888-332-3301. Information on the agribusiness relief program can be found here. Information on relief for the airline industry can be found here.

Tax measures taken by the federal government are described in our post on Important Canadian tax updates – Filings and disputes.

Ontario

On March 25, 2020, in place of a full budget, the Ontario government announced a one-year economic and fiscal updated entitled “Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID‑19”, including $7 billion in funding for the healthcare system and to directly support people and business, as well as $10 billion in tax and other deferrals. Funding will include, among other things, $3.7 billion is support of people and jobs. Further information is available at the link above.

In addition, on March 26, 2020, the government announced $1.9 billion in relief for employers through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). For information regarding issues facing employers as a result of COVID-19, please see our COVID-19 Quick-Reference Considerations for Employers.

How to access: For information on accessing the relief above, please see here.

Tax measures taken by the Ontario government are described in our post on Important provincial tax updates – Filing and Disputes.

Québec

Financial support announced for businesses in Québec includes the following:

  • On March 20, 2020 the government announced Concerted temporary action program for business (PACTE) offering financial support to businesses experiencing difficulties obtaining supplies of raw materials or products (goods or services) or whose ability to deliver products is halted or reduced.

How to access: Businesses that are already Investissement Québec clients should contact their account manager or project manager. Non-clients should contact their financial institution or Investissement Québec customer service at +1 844-474-6367, or via their online directory

  • On March 19, 2020, the government announced flexibility measures regarding the terms and conditions of loans already granted by Investissement Québec or through local investment funds. An additional three-month moratorium has been put in place for the repayment (capital and interest) of loans already granted through Fonds local d'investissement (FLI).

Tax measures taken by the Quebec government are described in our post on Important Québec tax updates – Filings and disputes.

Alberta

Financial support announced for businesses in Alberta includes the following:

  • Pursuant to its 2020 Budget passed March 17, 2020, the Alberta government has committed $500 million to respond to the public health crisis and to support front-line health professionals, in addition to the $20.6 billion allocated for health care in 2020. A list of relevant relief can be found here.
  • On March 20, 2020, Alberta announced that it would be providing immediate relief for the energy sector. Measures include funding the Alberta Energy Regulatory Levy, extensions for oil and gas tenures and a $100 million loan to the Orphan Well Association.

How to access: For information released to date on the above relief, please see here.

  • On April 4, 2020, Alberta announced that timber dues will be deferred for six months to support the province’s forest sector, which has been experiencing low markets for lumber, oriented strand board and pulp due to the pandemic.

How to access: For information released to date on the above relief, please see here.

Tax measures taken by the Alberta government are described in our Tax compliance and relief update for Alberta and B.C. businesses.

British Columbia

British Columbia has taken a number of legislative steps to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably the COVID-19 Action Plan has been announced to help businesses get through the pandemic and lay the groundwork needed to assist  businesses once the pandemic is over.

How to access: For information released to date on the above relief, please see here.

Tax measures taken by the British Columbia government are described in our Tax compliance and relief update for Alberta and B.C. businesses.

Saskatchewan

The Saskatchewan government has taken a number of steps to assist businesses, including providing information to assist in managing layoffs and staffing, and deferring payments of specific taxes and utilities. A full list of government programs can be found here.

How to access: The government’s “Business Response Team” is available from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday to Friday, and can be contacted at +1-844-800-8688, or at supportforbusiness@gov.sk.ca.

Manitoba

Manitoba has moved to provide certain kinds of tax relief for businesses, including extending filing deadlines, extending deadlines for Retail Sales Tax (“RST”) and Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Levy remittances for certain businesses, and providing a temporary exception to the Employment Standards layoff rules.

How to access: For information released to date on the above relief please see the Manitoba COVID-19 Novel Coronavirus Information Page.

Newfoundland & Labrador

The government of Newfoundland & Labrador has announced measures including deferral of loan payments and business loans administered by the Innovation and Business Investment Corporation, and extension of workers safety training certificates.

How to access: All measures offered by the government of Newfoundland & Labrador can be found here.   

Nova Scotia

The government of Nova Scotia has enacted a number of measures to support businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. These include commercial rent deferral, deferrals for payments of government loans and small business renewal fees and changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program and Small Business Development Program.

How to access: Information about these programs and additional resources can be found here.

New Brunswick

New Brunswick has instituted a number of measures to respond to the pandemic. These include providing operating loans to small businesses, waiving late penalties on property taxes, deferring interest and principal payments on existing loans, injecting working capital to mid-to-large sized employers, and preventing evictions under commercial leases for a defined period of time.

How to access: Information on all existing government measures can be found here.

Prince Edward Island

Prince Edward Island has implemented measures for businesses and the self-employed. The government has announced emergency working capital financing to help eligible small businesses stay afloat. The PEI government has also announced the Worker Assistance Program to provide funding for employers who have employees working reduced hours.

How to access: Information on relevant government measures can be found here. A toll free support line is available from 8:00 AM to 8:00 PM Monday to Friday, and can be contacted at +1 -866-222-1751. Parties can also email PEIbusinesshelpline@gov.pe.ca.

Yukon

The Yukon territorial government has announced a paid sick leave rebate for employers.

How to access: Parties can apply via the Yukon Government web page

Northwest Territories

The Northwest Territories territorial government has announced a number of measures to provide businesses relief as the pandemic progresses. These include: low interest loans through the Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC), and deferral of loan payments without penalty or interest.

How to access: Parties can determine if they are eligible for loans and for deferral of loan payments on the BDIC website.  

Nunavut

The Nunavut territorial government has established a number of programs for financial relief of businesses. These programs are specifically designed for small and medium sized businesses.

How to access: A full list of programs and how to apply can be found here.

Other Assistance

Assistance with Production of Essential Items: In addition to financial support, a number of governments have announced support for businesses assisting with production of essential items for the COVID-19 pandemic.

How to access: Parties can apply for funding through this webpage

  • On March 21, 2020, the Ontario government announced the creation of Ontario Together, a portal seeking help from businesses that can supply emergency products and innovative solutions in connection relating to the COVID-19 crisis. On April 1, 2020, the government established the Ontario Together Fund to assist Ontario businesses in providing innovative solutions to respond to the pandemic.

How to access: The Fund is intended to support successful proposals submitted through the Ontario Together Web Portal

  • On April 1, 2020, the government of British Columbia launched the COVID Supply Hub to fast-track sourcing and delivery of supplies to front-line healthcare workers.

How to Access: Businesses can submit offers through the links provided on this webpage.

  • The Manitoba government has created an online submission form for manufacturers, suppliers and distributors with inventory of, or established channels to obtain, products to help the fight against COVID-19.

How to access: Manufacturers, suppliers, and distributors can submit proposals here.

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Editors

Lawrence E. Ritchie

Partner, Litigation

Alexander Cobb

Partner, Litigation

Shawn Irving

Partner, Litigation

Kevin O’Brien

Partner, Litigation

Lauren Tomasich

Partner, Litigation

Malcolm Aboud

Associate, Litigation