The Federal Government's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan aims to provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses in order to help stabilize Canada's economy during this challenging period.
Economic Support for Canadians
1. Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits
- Effective as of March 15, 2020, individuals in imposed quarantine are no longer subject to the one-week wait period with respect to claiming Employment Insurance ("EI") sickness benefits.
- Canadians without sick paid leave are no longer required to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
2. Emergency Care Benefit
- As of April 2020, the
Canadian Revenue Agency ("CRA") will provide a
flat payment of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks in
order to provide income support to:
- Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits;
- Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits; and
- Parents with children who require supervision due to school closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether or not they qualify for EI sickness benefits.
3. Longer-Term Income Support for Workers
- Emergency Support Benefit: The CRA will provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
- EI Work Sharing Program: EI benefits will be extended for workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers.
4. Income Support for Individuals Who Need It Most
- The government is proposing to provide low and modest-income families a one-time special payment by early May 2020 via the Goods and Services Tax credit ("GSTC"). The payment will double the annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019/2020 benefit year.
5. Other Targeted Measures
- Providing $305 million for a new distinction-based Indigenous Community Support Find to address the needs of First Nations, Inuit, and Metis Nation communities.
- Six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans.
- Reducing the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020.
- Providing $157.5 million to support Reaching Home initiative to support people experiencing homelessness during the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Providing up to $50 million to women's shelters and sexual assault centers to support women fleeing violence and prevent outbreak in facilities.
Economic Support for Businesses
1. Helping Businesses Keep their Workers
- Government is proposing to provide eligible small employers temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee, and $25,000 per employer.
2. Flexibility for Filing Taxes
- The CRA will allow businesses to defer the payment of any income tax amount that becomes owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020 until August 31, 2020. This relief applies, free of interest or penalties, to tax balances and instalments.
- CRA will not initiate any post-assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks with respect to any small or medium businesses.
3. Ensuring Businesses Have Access to Credit
- The Bank of Canada has cut interest rates by 0.75% as a proactive measure in light of the negative shocks to Canada's economy.
- Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada aims to provide $10 billion of additional support to small and medium-sized businesses via the Business Credit Availability Program ("BCAP").
- The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer, effective immediately.
- Government has launched the Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). As announced on March 16, this will provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders and support continued lending to Canadian businesses and consumers.
- Augment credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
Tax Filing Deferral
- For individuals, the 2019 personal income tax return must be filed by June 1, 2020. Note that the June 15, 2020 filing due date for self-employed individuals appears to be unchanged.
- For trusts, the 2019 trust income tax return must be filed by May 1, 2020.
- All tax payers will be permitted to defer the payment of any income tax amount that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020 until August 31, 2020. This relief applies, free of interest or penalties, to tax balances and instalments.
- Note that no tax filing deferral has been announced for corporations, or non-income tax returns such as GST/HST and QST returns, and payroll tax returns.
- More information about tax relief measures can be found here.
As of March 13, 2020, Global Affairs Canada has recommended that travellers avoid all non-essential travel outside of Canada. The Government of Canada is also advising that Canadians avoid all travel on cruise shipsdue to the ongoing COVID-19 outbreak.
- On March 16, 2020, the federal government announced that starting at noon on Wednesday, March 18 2020, anyone who is not a Canadian citizen or permanent resident will be barred from boarding flights to Canada. On March 18, 2020, the federal government extended travel restrictions to the United States. The Canada-U.S. border is set to be closed to non-essential travel.
At Canadian Borders
- All travellers who have COVID-19 symptoms are prevented from boarding international flights to Canada, regardless of citizenship.
- Effective immediately, the Government of Canada will ban foreign nationals from all countries from entering Canada.
- Travellers from the United States will no longer be able to cross the border for recreational and touristic purposes. These measures are expected to be implemented as of March 20th.
- Note that supply chains between Canada-U.S. will not be disrupted by these travel restrictions.
- Exceptions: These travel restrictions do not apply to air crews, travellers arriving in Canada in transit to another country, Canadian permanent residents, diplomats, and/or immediate family members of Canadian Citizens.
- International passenger flights have been
redirected to the following airports:
- Calgary International Airport;
- Vancouver International Airport;
- Toronto-Pearson International Airport; and
- Montréal-Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport.
- Exceptions: Note that domestic flights, flights from the US and sun destinations, continue to operate on their regular routes
- As of March 16, 2020, all travelers entering Canada are being asked to self-isolate for 14 days upon entry.
- Note that workers who are essential to the movement of goods
and people are exempted from self-isolation requirements,
- healthy workers in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people across the border, such as truck drivers and crew on any plane, train or marine vessel crossing the border; and
- healthy people who have to cross the border to go to work, including health care providers and critical infrastructure workers.
- The Canadian Food Inspection Agency
(CFIA) has advised its employees of the following based on the
current advice from the Public Health Agency of
Canada (please note, this advice to employees is subject to
change and to being updated):
- If they have travelled outside of Canada, upon their return CFIA employees should self-isolate or self-quarantine for 14 days;
- Employees who have Covid-19 symptoms must advise their manager immediately, contact their local public health authority or medical practitioner and leave the workplace; and
- Employees who are at home and who may have Covid-19 are to follow the advice of their local public health authority regarding self-isolation or self-quarantine.
- State of Emergency: On March 17, the Government of Ontario announced that it is taking decisive action by making an order declaring an emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act.
- Advisories relating to self-isolation: Ontario is following the Government of Canada's recommendations and strongly suggests a 14-day self-isolation for all travellers returning from abroad, including travellers from the United States. This recommendation does not apply to workers who are deemed "essential to daily living."
- Employment Measures:
Ontario has proposed legislation that, if
passed, would provide job protection for employees unable to work
for the following reason:
- The employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19.
- The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
- The employee is in isolation or quarantine.
- The employee is acting in accordance with public health information or direction.
- The employer directs the employee not to work.
- The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure.
- State of Emergency: On March 17, Alberta's Premier and Chief Medical Officer of Health declared COVID-19 a public health emergency. Since this order, gatherings of more than 50 attendees have been prohibited.
- Advisories relating to
self-isolation: Alberta is following the Government of Canada's
recommendations and strongly suggests a 14-day self-isolation
for all travellers returning from abroad, including travellers from
the United States. The following professions have been exempted
from the 14-day self isolation period:
- Flight attendants;
- Pilots; and
- Commercial carriers.
- Employment Measures:
In Alberta, employees are permitted to take 14 days of paid,
job-protected leave if they are:
- Required to self-isolate;
- Sick or caring for a loved one with COVID-19.
- State of Emergency: On March 17, the Province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency pursuant to the Emergency Program Act. The state of emergency is initially in effect for 14 days, once issued, and may be extended or rescinded as necessary.
- Advisories relating to
self-isolation: British Columbia is following the Government of
Canada's recommendations and strongly suggests a 14-day
self-isolation for all travelers returning from abroad, including
travelers from the United States. The 14-day self-isolation period
does not apply to service workers for whom travel outside the
country is essential; including:
- Cross border trucking;
- Airline crew;
- Clipper or Coho staff;
- Film industry staff; or
- Other people who work in B.C and travel to the United States for work.
- Employment and Return to Work of Essential Service Workers: Generally essential services are those considered critical to preserving life, health and basic societal functioning. For example, this includes first responders to life threatening events, health care workers who are essential to delivering patient care and life-saving services, critical infrastructure workers such as drinking water, hydro, internet and natural gas and workers who are essential to supply society with critical goods such as food and medicines. Essential service workers should not travel outside Canada unless travel is part of the essential service that they provide.
- State of Emergency: On March 13, 2020, the Gouvernement du Québec adopted an Order in Council that declares a health emergency throughout Québec's territory.
- Advisories relating to self-isolation: Voluntary self-isolation for 14 days is recommended for anyone returning from abroad on or after March 12, 2020. Returning travellers must be vigilant and monitor themselves for symptoms. Self-isolation is mandatory for all public service employees and health care, education and daycare workers, both private and public, returning from abroad.
Other Provinces and Territories
- State of Emergency: The following provinces and territories have declared a state of emergency as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic:
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