We are so proud of how our community is coming together to combat the spread of COVID-19 but recognize the challenges and uncertainty you are facing. We are doing our best to provide timely updates and consolidated links resources for you. We thank you from the bottom of our hearts for your efforts to serve our community safely.
Here is what was announced at the federal level, an update on BC Chamber discussions with the province along with links to other helpful financial resources for business.
Federal Government Initiatives
Today the federal government rolled out a series of unprecedented government support programs for employees and small businesses along with other key information. We are still waiting on concrete information on how to access them. As soon as we have details we will share them.
- Provide eligible businesses a 10 per cent wage subsidy for the next 90 days up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Employers benefiting from this measure would include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as not-for-profit organisations and charities.
- 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. This measure will result in businesses having more money available during this period.
- Increase the credit available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses. As announced on March 13, a new Business Credit Availability Program will provide more than $10 billion of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. The Government is ready to provide more capital through these financial Crown corporations.
- Further expand Export Development Canada’s ability to provide support to domestic businesses.
- Provide flexibility on the Canada Account limit, to allow the Government to provide additional support to Canadian businesses, when deemed to be in the national interest, to deal with exceptional circumstances.
- Augment credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
- Launch an 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. CMHC stands ready to further support liquidity and the stability of the financial markets through its mortgage funding programs as necessary. The Government will enable these measures by raising CMHC’s legislative limits to guarantee securities and insure mortgages by $150 billion each.
- Additional assistance to families with children by temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments. This will deliver almost $2 billion in extra support
- Introduction of an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and don’t have access to paid sick leave
- An Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment
- Waive, for a minimum of six months, the mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits for workers in imposed quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate
- Waive the requirement for medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits
- Extend the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1, and allow taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing
Additionally, on the BC front, our Provincial Chamber President & CEO, Val Litwin, and Dan Baxter, Director of Policy, Government & Stakeholder Relations, met with Premier Horgan and Minister James yesterday morning. During their time with the Premier and Minister they shared the preliminary results of our network's province-wide COVID-19 Business Impacts Survey on BCMindReader.com - and that over 7000 businesses have now chimed in. Thank you for your engagement in this critically important survey. The data our BC Chamber shared painted a dire, real-time picture of SMEs operating in the province today. The full results will be release tomorrow, first thing.
The Premier and Minister confirmed that the insights our network shared will help them craft their stimulus/relief package, which they hope to unveil in the days ahead. As mentioned above, the federal government just announced its updated stimulus package - and we understand the province won't be far behind.
How is BC tackling the situation? The Premier confirmed that the province has a "three stage" focus in these early days:
On the subject of business continuity and recovery, the BC Chamber tabled our network's key considerations around what the province should further consider as it crafts its package for businesses, including but not limited to:
- The health and safety of BC citizens
- Support for people and businesses
- Economic recovery
- Being more flexible around tax remittances (including the EHT)
- Working with municipalities to allow for delayed property tax payment
- Working with credit unions to ensure zero interest loans, lines of credit
- Enhancing EI access and wider wage replacement options for employees
- Providing funding for business to work remotely
Resources for Small Businesses
Small Business BC BC’s resource for small business support. https://smallbusinessbc.ca/article/resources-for-small-businesses-affected-by-coronavirus-covid-19/
SBBC advisors are ready to answer entrepreneurs’ questions about implementing or updating business continuity plans, accessing the Talk to an Expert program, or finding online training to help them take the next step. They can be reached at 1-800-667-2272 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Province of BC Small Business Resources Provides a checklist of considerations that small businesses can use to help minimize the impacts of COVID-19 to their employees and operations. https://www2.gov.bc.ca/gov/content/employment-business/business/small-business/resources
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has resources available including:
BC Hydro: The COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program provides the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Call BC Hydro's customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to discuss options.
Please reach out directly to me at email@example.com or by phone at 604.905.9167 if you have questions or need support. Your chamber is here to help YOU.
Meredith, Graham and the rest of the Board of Directors