COVID-19 - Helping Your Employees

Employee assistance program printed on paper form

COVID-19 – Helping Your Employees

Additional COVID-19 Resources

Managing Your Cash Flow During COVID-19

New Tax Filing and Tax Payment Deadline

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Canada Emergency Business Account

Aid for Students and the Canadian Emergency Student Benefit

GGFL Service Changes

Secure Document Drop-Off

COVID-19, Taxes and Office Operations

Client Safety and Care During COVID-19

Updated June 23, 2020

People are the most important resource of any successful business and keeping employees working during this temporary crisis is critical for many reasons, both practical and emotional.

It’s important then for all business owners to examine the federal government’s subsidy initiatives aimed at keeping as many people as possible in work and as many businesses as possible afloat.

Here are the options to help employers keep their workforce and when that’s impossible the programs available to laid-off employees

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

On Friday March 27, the federal government announced a significant increase in the payroll subsidy.

The new measures, which are designed to keep employees on the payroll during the COVID-19 crisis, include a 75 per cent wage subsidy – an increase from the 10 per cent announced last week. For more details, please see COVID-19 and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The federal government has introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This is a taxable benefit providing $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB replaces the Emergency Care Benefit (ECB) and Emergency Support Benefit (ESB) and is designed to make the benefit process easier.

The CERB covers Canadians who have lost their jobs, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19. It also covers working parents who must stay home, without pay, to care for sick children or children at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

New – On June 16th, the government announced that the Canada Emergency Response Benefit would be extended by an additional 8 weeks. This extension will make the benefit available to eligible workers for up to a total of 24 weeks.

People who have recently lost their job or work part-time: All Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB. In addition, Prime Minister Trudeau announce on April 15th that people earning up to $1000 per month will now be eligible for CERB and benefits will be back-dated to March 15th.

People on EI or who recently ran out of EI: Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits will continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB. Anyone who ran out of Employment Insurance (EI) benefits since January 1st is able to apply for CERB.

Season Workers: Anyone who had been expecting seasonal work over the summer months is also eligible for CERB.

Artists: Copyright revenue for artists will no longer make them ineligible for the CERB program.

Note that if you were earning non-eligible dividends from your business prior to ceasing work, you would still be eligible for the CERB.

For the CERB, it is important to note for self-employed individuals to be eligible there would need to be a cessation of work (not just a cessation of receiving income) due to COVID-19.

More details here: Emergency Response Benefit

On April 6th, the government reported that they are working to provide support to those who don’t yet qualify for the CERB, including contract and gig workers.  Stay tuned for more details.

Guaranteed Loans

The government will guarantee bank loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses. These loans will be interest-free for the first year and for qualifying businesses, up to $10,000 of the loans would not be repayable.

Work Sharing

For employers and employees affected by COVOD-19, special temporary government measures are now in place. Work sharing helps employers and employees avoid layoffs by financially compensating employees whose income will be reduced.

The measures are in place until March 2021 and lowers several barriers previously in place. For example:

  • The maximum possible duration of a work-sharing agreement increases from 38 weeks to 76 weeks
  • The mandatory cooling off period for employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program has been eliminated so eligible employers can immediately enter into a new agreement.
  • Businesses previous had to be at least two years old to qualify. That has been reduced to one year.

While the system has been streamlined, there are also numerous conditions. They can be found here:

Under ‘In Your Workplace’, along with details on how to apply.