Stay up-to-date on the evolving situation and on the nature of the virus itself, by frequently checking provincial, national and international websites. You can find updated COVID-19 information on the following websites:
The COVID-19 Action Plan is government’s first step to provide relief to people and businesses in British Columbia. It includes: $2.8 billion to help people and fund the services they need to weather the crisis; $2.2 billion will provide relief to businesses and help them recover after the outbreak.
A new B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment to British Columbians whose ability to work has been affected by the outbreak. The benefit will be a one-time payment for British Columbians who receive federal Employment Insurance (EI), or the new federal Emergency Care Benefit or Emergency Support Benefit as a result of COVID-19 impacts.
Effective immediately, businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until Sept. 30, 2020. Businesses with a payroll under this threshold are already exempt from the tax.
In addition to the employer health tax, the Province is extending tax filing and payment deadlines for the provincial sales tax (PST), municipal and regional district tax on short-term accommodation, tobacco tax, motor fuel tax and carbon tax until Sept. 30, 2020.
Business and light- and major-industry property classes will see their school tax cut in half.
March 25: Trudeau's $82B Coronavirus support package officially passes [PRESS RELEASE]
Support for Businesses
Canada Emergency Bank Account
March 27: The Federal Government announced a new Canada Emergency Bank Account (CEBA). Through the federal government, CEBA will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so they can provide interest-free loans up to $40,000 for 1 year to small businesses and not-for-profits.
To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.
Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).
Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan Guarantee Program
March 27: The new Small and Medium-sized Loan and Guarantee program will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada, for guaranteed loans.
This is intended for small and medium-sized companies that require greater help to meet their operational cash flow requirements and will be accessed through eligible financial organizations.
The new operating credit and cash flow term loans will be extended by financial institutions and can provide an SME up to $6.25 million
March 27: the federal government announced that all businesses, including self-employed individuals, will be able to defer all GST/HST payments until June 2020, as well as customs duties owed for imports.
Monthly filers have to remit amounts collected for the February, March and April 2020 reporting periods;
Quarterly filers have to remit amounts collected for the January 1, 2020 through March 31, 2020 reporting period; and
Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalment are due in March, April or May 2020, have to remit amounts collected and owing for their previous fiscal year and instalments of GST/HST in respect of the filer’s current fiscal year.
The payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today (March 18, 2020) 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. This measure will result in businesses having more money available during this period.
Tax Remittance Deferrals (Provincial)
The provincial government is extending tax filing and payment deadlines to September 30th, 2020 to help businesses through this crisis. The deferred taxes will include:
Employee Health Tax (EHT)
Motor Fuel Taxes
The scheduled increase of carbon tax has been canceled
Provincial Sales Tax (PST)
Municipal & Regional District Tax
Property Tax Relief (Provincial)
Business and light and major industrial property classes will see a 50% cut to provincial school tax, which should result in $500 million in immediate relief for business.
The expectation is business will benefit directly (if they own their own property) or this relief will flow through commercial landlords immediately passing savings on to tenants in triple-net leases
Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)
March 13: Federal government announced the BCAP to help Canadian businesses obtain financing during the current period of significant uncertainty. The BCAP will support access to financing for Canadian businesses in all sectors and regions. [BCAP DETAILS]
Learn how to access the BCAP using this guide from Deloitte [GET THE GUIDE]
UPDATED - Temporary Wage Subsidy Program
March 27: To support businesses and help prevent layoffs, the government is providing eligible business and non-profits a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy has been increased to 75% (from the initial 10%) retroactive to March 15, 2020.
Details on eligibility criteria are being updated and will be shared as soon as they become available (expected before the end of March).
Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises
To provide additional liquidity support for Canadian businesses, the Co-Lending Program will bring the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.
Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts up to $6.25 million BDC’s portion of this program is up to $5 million maximum per loan. Eligible financial institutions will conduct the underwriting and manage the interface with their customers. The potential for lending for this program will be $20 billion.
This is accessed through eligible financial institutions. Check with your financial institution to find out if they are eligible.
Farm Credit Canada
FCC lending capacity has been increased by $5B to alleviate industry financial pressure. FCC provides loans and services for primary producers, food operations and agribusinesses.
FCCis prepared to assist - speak to your local FCC contact through their Customer Service Centre at 1-888-332-3301 or visit their online service portal to work with FCC.
Other Business Support
WorkSafeBC will be allowing employers to defer payment of their Q1 2020 payments by three months. This means employers who report payroll and make payments on a quarterly basis, as well as Personal Optional Protection (POP) coverage holders can defer payments until June 30, 2020.
Pacific Northern Gas is maintaining service for all customers during this time and is available to work with customers on flexible payment options. To find out more or contact PNG Ltd click here.
CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today 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.
ICBC is now offering customers the option to defer their monthly insurance payments for up to 90 days with no penalty. This deferral will be available to customers already on monthly Autoplan payments. ICBC previously only allowed for a single deferral of 30 days. Customers can use ICBC’s online resource tool to apply for deferrals or call the customer support team at 1-800-665-6442.
Hootsuite is offering free access (until July 1st, 2020) to their Professional Plan to help small businesses and non-profits stay connected to their customers and audiences. To learn more or signup visit their website here.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (Expected April 6)
March 25: The federal government announced that emergency benefits would be easier to access. The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) offers income support for up to 16 weeks to those who lose pay because of the pandemic. A government news release says the "simpler and more accessible" program will cover Canadians who lost their jobs, got sick, are under quarantine or have to stay home because of school closures. [LEARN MORE] + [PRESS RELEASE]
Employment Insurance Benefits
Apply as soon as possible after you stop working. If you wait more than 4 weeks after your last day of work to apply, you may lose benefits. [APPLY ONLINE]
March 20: Information on applying for EI Benefits during COVID-19 [DETAILS]
The Government of Canada’s $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund goes towards support for employers and workers through the Work-Sharing program, by waiving the one-week waiting period for Employment Insurance sickness benefits for those who are required to do a 2 week quarantine.
Service Canada has set up a SEPARATE phone line to contact them to set up EI claims for quarantine, illness, work closure, etc due to COVID-19. They will not help you with anything else at this number. Likewise, the main EI number cannot help you with COVID-19 claims. The number is 1-833-381-2725.
There is over an hour average wait time to speak to someone at the main number, so please take some of the load off them and use the COVID-19 # if that is what you need to talk to them about.
Supporting Renters and Landlords During COVID-19
The BC government is introducing a new temporary rental supplement (up to $500/month), halting evictions and freezing rents, among other actions. [FULL DETAILS HERE]
March 24: What employers need to know about temporary layoffs [ARTICLE HERE]
March 23: FAQs - Layoffs, Salary, EI & More... - Employment lawyer Daniel Lublin answers frequently asked questions from workers [READ HERE]
March 18: Taylor McCaffrey Lawyers answer employer questions when it comes to preparing your employees [READ HERE]
Work-Sharing (WS) Program
Work-Sharing is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. Temporary special measures have extended the maximum duration of work-Sharing agreements from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for businesses affected by COVID-19 .
WorkBC Courtenay is continuing our services during the COVID-19 crisis. They are assisting our job seekers and employers by phone and through internet technology, though their physical doors are closed to in-person service. [CONTACT INFO]
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).
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.
Webinars & Online Training
March 20: Pivoting Your Business to Adapt (Small Business BC) [WATCH REPLAY]
March 23: Small Business Community Chat (Small Business BC) [WATCH REPLAY]
March 24: How to Cope with the Impacts of COVID-10 On Your Business (BDC Canada) [WATCH ON YOUTUBE]
March 24: Hear from a Small Business Owner: The Federal Store (Small Business BC) [WATCH REPLAY]
March 25: Your HR Questions Answered with an Employment Lawyer (Small Business BC) [WATCH REPLAY]
Consider whether your organization can provide goods or services to assist those in self-isolation (ie: grocery delivery, online or telephone counseling, internet services).
Can your business supply products and services to help Canada fight COVID-19? Find out more here.
Comox Valley Child Development Association has suspended all programs until is it safe to open again and is reaching out to the community for additional support at this time to help reduce the strain on families affected. If you can help, with a dicount or coupon for your products or services, please get in touch by email.
Local Government & Community News
A list of Comox Valley Businesses Services available during COVID-19 [OVER HERE] - find out who is open, has delivery, take out, and pick up options. You can also add your business to the list using their registration form.
COMPLETE THE SURVEY: The Provincial Government has asked us to provide immediate needs assessments on what operators need to survive this crisis. Information collected will be aggregated and shared with government, industry partners, and other organizations. The results will be used to shape impacting programs to give us the best chance of emerging through this crisis stronger. [SURVEY HERE]
NEW POLICY: Liquor primary and food primary licensees that are permitted to remain open during the current health crisis are authorized to sell and deliver packaged liquor of all types from the service area for off-site consumption to patrons with the purchase of a meal, subject to new terms and conditions for these purposes. [DETAILS HERE]
Ensure your business is prepared to handle a potential case of business disruption, including accessing available government resources to mitigate potential financial impacts to your employees and your business. Review or create a Business Continuity Plan for your organization, ensuring it contains:
Process to follow if an employee becomes ill;
Policies around travel;
Policies around sick leave;
How to mitigate risk so essential business functions can continue; and
www.povnet.org is listing service changes/closures to anti-poverty advocacy and legal services provincially, as well as special resources being made available provincially in response to COVID. Click the links in the red banner at the top of their homepage.
The BC government does daily media updates everyday at 3 pm (T-F), which are streamed live by major media.