Update: COVID-19 Support Benefits
March 3, 2021
March 3, 2021
Nearly one year after the introduction of the first COVID-19 support programs, Canadians have seen a proliferation of different assistance programs from Provincial and Federal governments supporting individuals and businesses that have been impacted by the pandemic. With so many support programs available, some that have ended, and the numerous acronyms for these programs (all of which sound remarkably similar), it can be difficult to keep track. As a guide, we have prepared a summary of the most common programs currently operating and we also describe some of the programs that have ended.
PROGRAMS FOR INDIVIDUALS
Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
Introduced September 27, 2020, the CRB is available to anyone not eligible for Employment Insurance (“EI”) but who have stopped working or had their income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19. This benefit has been extended as of February 24, 2021, to a total claim maximum of 38 weeks, and provides $500 per week.
Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)
The CRSB, also introduced September 27, 2020, is in place to ensure all workers have paid sick leave during the pandemic. It is available to anyone who is home for at least half a week due to contracting COVID-19 or if they are self-isolating for COVID-19 related reasons. The benefit provides $500 per week for missed work, and has been extended to a total of four (4) weeks.
Canada Recovery Caregiver Benefit (CRCB)
The CRCB is the third benefit introduced on September 27, 2020. CRCB provides $500 per week per household where they are unable to work for at least half of the week because they have to take care of children or a family member, due to school or care facility closures, illness of a child or family member, or if they are quarantining. This benefit has been extended to a total claim maximum of 38 weeks.
Employment Insurance (EI)
The federal government has also significantly increased the number of weeks for which EI can be claimed, bringing it to a total of 50 weeks.
BC Recovery Benefit
As of December 18, 2020, British Columbia families can apply to receive a tax-free payment of up to $1,000, and individuals to receive up to $500, based on 2019 tax return income. Families earning less than a net income of $125,000 qualify for the full amount. A reduced benefit will be provided based on net family income up to $175,000. Individuals with a net income of up to $62,500 qualify for the full amount, and a reduced amount for net incomes of up to $87,500.
PROGRAMS FOR BUSINESSES
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
First announced on March 27, 2020, the CEWS has been the mainstay of the Federal Government’s support program for businesses during the pandemic. CEWS provides a wage subsidy for employers who have experienced a reduction in revenue, in order to encourage them to avoid laying off staff, or to bring back employees laid off due to COVID-19. The benefit provides up to 75% of the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week per employee. Remuneration includes certain benefits in addition to salary or wages. This can also be applied to employees on a paid leave of absence.
The benefit is retroactive to March 15, 2020 and is currently in place until June 30, 2021.
10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers (TWS)
Established March 25, 2020, this benefit allows employers to reduce payroll remittances to CRA by up to 10% for the period of March 18 to June 19, 2020, for up to $1,375 per employee, with a maximum offset of $25,000 for the employer. As there is no application process, employers may apply the benefit to their payroll remittance before submitting it to CRA. Importantly, any TWS claim will cause an equal reduction in any CEWS claim over the same dates. For employers who did not apply the subsidy previously for payroll in the March 18 to June 19, 2020 period, the CRA will pay the amount of the subsidy to you at the end of the year or transfer it to your next year’s remittance.
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
This benefit, introduced on November 2, 2020, provides a rent subsidy directly to businesses, non-profits, and charities who have experienced a reduction in revenue. The subsidy is calculated based on the percentage of the revenue reduction for the applicant. Of note, there is threshold reduction to qualify.
CERS has recently been expanded to include an additional amount for businesses affected by a mandatory lockdown order by a federal, provincial, or municipal government, or a local health authority.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
This benefit provides loans to businesses of up to $60,000, with up to $20,000 forgivable if certain conditions are satisfied including repayment of the balance by the end of 2022. Originally launched April 9, 2020, with a $40,000 maximum, CEBA has since been expanded. These loans are intended to allow businesses to pay non-deferrable operating expenses, including rent, payroll, and debt payments. Businesses have until March 31, 2021, to apply for the loan, or an expansion of an existing CEBA loan.
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)
The little-used LEEFF opened to applications on May 20, 2020. LEEFF acts as an emergency lender for companies with a revenue of “approximately $300 million or more,” needing loans of at least $60 million to get them through the COVID-19 pandemic. LEEFF will remain open to businesses “while the current economic situation persists.”
PROGRAMS WHICH HAVE ENDED
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
This program has ended. This benefit provided forgivable loans for property owners who reduced rent for eligible small business tenants.
Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)
This benefit ended on September 30, 2020. It financially assisted post-secondary students and recent graduates who were unable to find work due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It has not been replaced.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
This wage replacement of $2,000 per month for individuals ended on December 2, 2020. It has been replaced by the individual programs mentioned above.
For questions on any information contained in this article, please feel free to reach out to a member of our firm.
All our previous COVID-19 information bulletins can be found on Roper Greyell’s COVID-19 resource page.