Updated daily with tools, information and resources the can help small and medium sized businesses get through the pandemic.
We Hope These Help
We Hope These Help
In this ever changing situation we know it can be hard to navigate new business realities. Below are the key tools, information and advice our team has been circulating and updating daily. We hope some of it can help your business through this period.
The Canadian government has released an economic support plan with sections for both businesses and individuals.
The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has great resources on pandemic and business continuity planning as well as a news alert system.
Interest free loans of up to $40,000 will be available for small business, up to $10,000 of these loans may be forgivable (more details to come)
Read the list of essential workplaces allowed to remain open in Ontario.
If work can be done online, by telephone or mail/delivery the workplace is permitted to remain open. If a workplace cannot operate virtually, by phone or through telework, then the Essential Workplace order needs to be considered and the list reviewed.
There have been a lot of questions on this, so we created a dedicated dropdown below this one.
Emergency Response Benefit
Here is the current government advice on applying for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. They will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:
- workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
- workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
- working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
- workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
- wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is now accessible through a secure web portal. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number. More information is available at Government of Canada or Dutton Employment Law.
This benefit is not available to people who quit their jobs or who opt for EI over paid work.
The $2000 payment will be taxed at the employee’s annual federal tax rate.
Highlights from the Ontario Coronavirus Benefit Package
- $6 billion in provincial business tax interest and penalty relief for five months
- $355 million for a temporary increase in Employer Health Tax exemption (companies with less than $1 million will be exempt from paying, estimated to help 57,000 businesses)
- 10 per cent corporate tax credit for regions with “lagging employment growth
- $1.9 billion for the deferral of WSIB premiums for up to six months
- $100 million for skills training for workers impacted by COVID-19
- Previously announced job-protected leave for employees in isolation, quarantine and those caring for children
- $1.5 billion increase in electricity relief
- Previously announced changing time-of-use rate prices to the lowest rate for 45 days
- Expansion of the low-income energy assistance program’s eligibility and ensuring no disconnections for nonpayment
Other Useful Resources for Employers
- A pandemic checklist for small business (from British Columbia).
- Details on New Leaves of Absence Available to Ontario Employees – Consider these instead of temporary layoffs
- Federal Government Announcement on Retooling in Support of the Production Medical Supplies
- OSH Canada’s Advice on How to Prepare Your Workplace for a Pandemic
- Information for COVID-19 and Work Refusals
- ESDC Corporate Notices on EI and Work Sharing Programs and Other COVID-19 Updates Can be Found Here
Support for Employees
- CRA will defer the filing due date for 2019 tax returns of individuals until June 1st,
- Trusts who have a taxation year ending on December 31st, 2019, will have their return filing due date deferred to May 1st, 2020.
- CRA will allow taxpayers to defer until after August 31st, 2020 the payment of any income tax amounts that became owing after March 18th and before September 2020.
- CRA will recognize electronic signatures for forms T183 or T183CORP as at temporary administrative measure
- The Canadian government has released an economic support plan with sections for both businesses and individuals.
How to Find Out if Your Business Qualifies for the COVID-19 Wage Subsidy – a CBC article that nicely summarizes it.
FAQ’s about the 10% Wage Subsidy via the CRA’s website.
Details about the 75% Wage Subsidy via the CRA Department of Finance’s website.
The Federal Government’s Wage Subsidy Incentive is one of several that the Government announced on March 18, 2020. All of the initiatives will provide a measure of relief but there are items of practical consideration that need to be determined. *As of March 27 the amounts were increased, see updated information below.
Payroll remittances are generally made one of two ways:
- an employer calculates all statutory remittances and makes those payments to CRA directly, or;
- an employer submits payroll info to a service provider like Ceridian, Wagepoint or ADP, and that provider calculates and submits all amounts directly to CRA.
Payroll service providers like Ceridian, Wagepoint or ADP are working to implement these changes into their systems and communicating that with their clients. As soon as we know more, we will be communicating the next steps to our payroll and benefits clients.
In the meantime, If you calculate your remittances and make your payments directly to CRA, our Bookkeeping leads created two simple payroll registers to help calculate and track what amount of the subsidy is applicable and how much to hold back from the CRA when you go to pay for your periodic remittances. This will provide sufficient backup that the CRA requires as it captures the total remuneration paid, the total income tax deducted as well as the total number of employees.
Updated March 27, 2020: There are now two federal wage subsidy options: a 10% option and a 75% option. The 75% is retroactive to March 15th and runs until June 6. The 10% is from March 18 until June 19. We will share more information as it comes.
In either case, the registers will help organizations track the remunerations claimed to date to ensure that they do not exceed limits:
- 10% wage subsidy limits: the $1,375 per employee or the $25,000 per employer
- 75% wage subsidy limits: up to $847 per employee per week with a cap of $58,700 per employer
The registers will also provide sufficient backup required by the CRA. It is also important to note that the amount of the subsidy claimed for each pay period is to be classified as Income in the year in which the subsidy is received.
To help navigate IE, here is a review of the the Employment Insurance benefits currently available and who is eligible. Our clients have also been asking about the Work Sharing option so we elaborated on this program in the summary. If you’re more visual, our HR Team Lead also create a short video reviewing Work Sharing.
CBC prepared a ‘how to guide’ for applying for EI that businesses may want to share with any employees who are off.
And here is the link to the federal government’s EI website.
Introduced for the current pandemic is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit program (more details in tab below).
How to Calculate Benefits Under EI
Quickly summarized: take the lesser of the employee’s annual income or $54,200. Multiply by 0.55. Divide this number by 26 to determine the gross biweekly amount. This amount is then taxed as follows:
- 15% on the first $48,535 of taxable income, plus
- 20.5% on the next $48,534 of taxable income on the portion of taxable income up to the $54,200 set by EI.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
If you stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.
The government has introduced a system using your month of birth for applying to the CERB program. Certain months are to apply on certain days of the week. The system applies whether you are applying online or through the phone.
|If you were born in the month of||Apply for CERB on||Your best day to apply|
|January, February or March||Mondays||April 6|
|April, May, or June||Tuesdays||April 7|
|July, August, or September||Wednesdays||April 8|
|October, November, or December||Thursdays||April 9|
|Any month||Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays|
Who is eligible for this program?
- Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
- Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job;
- Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.
The Benefit is only available to individuals who stopped work as a result of reasons related to COVID-19. If you are looking for a job but haven’t stopped working because of COVID-19, you are not eligible for the Benefit.
To be as accurate as possible, the majority of the above information has been copied from the Government of Canada’s CERB webpage. We will continue to add details as they are known.
Trying to create new manuals, policies and processes for your team can be time consuming. We drafted some sample documents to help get the ball rolling and will continue to add more as they are ready.
Be prepared for more delays in accessing online connectivity software as the universities and college all return next week and more and more people are working from home; Zoom and other providers are working to address this, but patience will be needed.
Things are changing quickly, and a fact-based perspective on COVID-19 is essential. As part of the Conference Board’s ongoing coverage, they have developed a landing page on their website – available here.
Some good articles:
- HBR’s Advice on increasing engagement in virtual meetings
- Advice for Workplaces Shifting to Remote Work for the First Time
- MIT Management School’s How to Manage the Hidden Risks in Remote Work and How to Spot business Disruption Before it Strikes
- How to Onboard Employees While Working From home (Fast Company)
- SHRM has written a piece on Technology Eases Transition for New Remote Workers
- Forbes’ article covering 4 Remote Work Tips to Adapt Your Business to Changing Circumstances
- Tips for Working From Home from CBC
- Practical and Psychological Tips for Virtual Conferencing from Life Science Leader
- Coronavirus: How to Work from Home the Right Way – a BBC article
- Managing Zoom Party Crashers
Losing our routines and being isolated can be hard. There are tons of great resources out there to help with mental health during this period – these are just a few that our team has been circulating:
Blog on Managing the Pandemic Panic
CBC news article on how to talk to children about COVID-19
Article on Ways to Cope During the COVID-19 Outbreak
Article that lists other online workout resources
Yoga At Home for online Yoga and meditation ($7.99/month)
Free resources from Calm (a meditation app, but for those of you who prefer sports over meditation, this is the site LeBron James partners with and his materials on the site are very cool!)
Healthy Comfort Food recipes – yum! Thanks to Eat Well.
Fostering Wellness During The COVID-19 Outbreak via Henry Ford Health Systems
Mental Health Commission of Canada article on choosing the right sources of information
Mental Health Resources
- Distress Centre of Ottawa: 613-238-3311
- ROSSS (seniors support): 613-692-4697 or 613-821-1101
- The Mental Health Crisis Line (24 hours a day/7 days a week) 613-722-6914
- Distress Centre of Ottawa (24 hours a day/7 days a week) 613-238-3311
- Kids Help Phone (bilingual) 1-800-668-6868
- Good 2 Talk (bilingual) 1-866-925-5454
- First Nations and Inuit Hope for Wellness Help Line 24/7 (Bilingual, Other) 1-855-242-3310
- Ottawa Rape Crisis Centre Crisis Line 24/7 (English) 613-562-2333 or 24hr Line: 613-562-2333
Here are some fun things our team has been sharing. Hopefully they bring even a little joy to your day!
The top 50 movies to watch on Netflix Canada in March 2020
The top 48 Documentaries on Netflix in 2020
The Met is streaming its operas for free all week! They are streamed for 24 hours only so some planning is good.
Want to learn while you are ‘staying at home’? Check out Edx for free courses from MIT, Harvard, and more!
Travel Virtually with these Travel Series at Home
Online Learning – Check Out Cool Resources from dominKnow
Cute Animal Videos to Make You Smile:
We also have a few videos and blogs that you may find useful as well:
- Pass the Remote: The Pros and Cons of Being a Full-Time Remote EmployeeWorking remotely can be a joy that increases flexibility but it can also be tough. Richard Jaggon discusses his personal experiences with working remotely beginning with occasionally working at [...]Read more
Balancing the Now with the Future
Balancing the New with the Future
Adapting is likely a priority for businesses right now. This might include installing HR policies that won’t bind you later, helping your team through temporary layoffs or shifting to being a virtual workplace – the things that need to happen now.
It’s important to do these “now” things as efficiently and correct as possible to help your business now, but also in the future. Because eventually, things will settle down. Once we arrive at more normal future state, there will be rehiring to do, process updates once again, etc.
It’s a tricky balance navigating the “now” with the “future”, but we know you can do it and want to share whatever resources we can that will help you get through.
Supporting one another through this period is key. If we can help in anyway, we will.