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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Government Resources
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Exporting/Trade Resources
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Mental Health Resources
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Chamber Resources


Government Resources

General Updates
Ensure your business is prepared to access available government resources to mitigate potential financial impacts to your employees and your business.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

Under this program, the Government of Canada will subsidize the wages of qualifying businesses.

  • Applications are now open.
  • To qualify, a business must have lost at least 15% of its gross revenue in March and 30% of its gross revenue in April and May, as compared to either:
    • the same month in 2019, or
    • January and February 2020.
  • The government will cover up to 75 per cent of a salary to a cap of $58,700, i.e. up to $847 a week.
  • Businesses of any size can qualify, as well as non-profits and charities.
  • Employers are encouraged to pay the remaining 25% of wages if they are able to, and will have to prove they are making every effort to do so.
  • Severe penalties are threatened for any bad actor attempting to abuse the system.
  • Business-owners will have to re-apply each month.
  • The program will be open for March, April, and May.
  • Businesses not qualifying for the 75% subsidy would still be able to receive the existing 10% subsidy program, paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
  • An application guide can be accessed here.
  • A calculator to assess the eligible subsidy is available here.
  • An FAQ page is available here.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

CEBA provides much needed credit for small businesses to pay for immediate operating costs such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax, or debt service.  It is 100 per cent funded by the Government of Canada.

  • It is available to Canadian employers with $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019, and operating as of March 1, 2020. This includes smaller (i.e., micro) businesses and other eligible employers such as not-for-profits.
  • Under CEBA, financial institutions will be able to provide interest-free credit facilities of up to $40,000 to eligible businesses.
  • If the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022, 25 per cent (up to $10,000) will be forgiven.
  • If the loan is not repaid by December 31, 2022, the remaining balance will be converted to a three-year term loan at 5 per cent interest.

This program is now available at various financial institutions and credit unions.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

CECRA provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners so that they can reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants by at least 75% for the months of April, May and June, 2020.

To qualify for CECRA for small businesses, the property owner must meet the following requirements:

  • You own property that generates rental revenue from commercial real property located in Canada.
  • You are the property owner of the commercial real property where the impacted small business tenants are located.
  • You have a mortgage loan secured by the commercial real property, occupied by one or more small business tenants.*
  • You have entered or will enter into a rent reduction agreement for the period of April, May, and June 2020, that will reduce impacted small business tenant’s rent by at least 75%.
  • Your rent reduction agreement with impacted tenants includes a moratorium on eviction for the period of April, May and June 2020.
  • You have declared rental income on your tax return (personal or corporate) for tax years 2018 and/or 2019.

 * For those property owners who do not have a mortgage, an alternative mechanism will be implemented. Further information will be outlined in the near future.

CECRA for small businesses is applicable to commercial property owners with:

  • eligible small business tenants
  • eligible small business subtenants
  • residential components and multi-unit residential properties with commercial tenants (i.e. mixed usage)

Impacted small business tenants are businesses, including non-profit and charitable organizations who:

  • pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location (as defined by a valid and enforceable lease agreement),
  • generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, calculated on a consolidated basis (at the ultimate parent level), and
  • have temporarily ceased operations (i.e. generating no revenues), or has experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues.**

** To measure revenue loss, small businesses can compare revenues in April, May and June of 2020 to that of the same month of 2019. They can also use an average of their revenues earned in January and February of 2020. 

CMHC administers the program on behalf of the Government of Canada and its provincial and territorial partners.

The program offers assistance for the months of April, May and June, 2020.

  • It can be applied retroactively.
  • Property owners may still apply for assistance once the 3-month period has ended if they can prove eligibility during those months.
  • Property owners must refund amounts paid by the small business tenant for the period.*

*If rent has been collected at the time of approval, a credit to the tenant for a future month’s rent (i.e. July for April) is acceptable if agreed upon by both the property owner and the tenant. This can be a flexible 3-month period.

The deadline to apply is August 31, 2020.

CMHC will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners.

  • The loans will cover 50% of the gross rent owed by impacted small business tenants during the 3-month period of April, May and June 2020.
  • The property owner will be responsible for no less than half of the remaining 50% of the gross rent payments (paying no less than 25% of the total).
  • The small business tenant will be responsible for no more than half of the remaining 50% of the gross rent payments (paying no more than 25% of the total).

CECRA for small businesses loans will be forgiven if the property owner complies with all applicable program terms and conditions including to not seek to recover rent abatement amounts after the program is over.

EDC Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

This program provides credit and cash flow term loans to small and medium-sized enterprises. Canadian businesses in all sectors that were otherwise financially viable and revenue generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak are eligible to apply.

It allows financial institutions to issue operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to existing clients, with 80 per cent guaranteed by EDC.

This money is to be used for operational expenses, not for dividend payouts, shareholder loans, bonuses, stock buyback, option issuance, increases to executive compensation or repayment/refinancing of other debt.

This program is now available at various financial institutions and credit unions.

BDC Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises

This program provides term loans for operational and liquidity needs of businesses, which could include interest payments on existing debt. Similar to the EDC program, this program is available to businesses that were financially viable and revenue-generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.

The program is designed in three segments to target support to different business sizes.

  • Loans of up to $312,500 to businesses with revenues of less than $1 million.
  • Up to $3.125 million for businesses with revenues between $1 million and $50 million.
  • Up to $6.25 million for businesses with revenues in excess of $50 million.

Loans would be interest-only for the first 12 months, with a 10-year repayment period.

Work Sharing Program Extension
The Federal Government  announced  the Work-Sharing program is implementing temporary special measures to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19. The new temporary special measures are available to employers impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The measures allows for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19. The temporary special measures will:

  • extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks, for a total of 76 weeks
    • wave the mandatory waiting period between agreements
    • ease the recovery plan requirements
  • Access the Work-Sharing page to learn more about the program and its requirements.
  • Access the Work-Sharing temporary special measures page to find out if you are eligible for temporary special measures.
  • For more information on the Work-Sharing Program, call the toll-free number: 1-800-367-5693

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The Government of Canada has launched the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). The program offers benefits to people ineligible for Employment Insurance who have lost incomes due to COVID-19, including self-employed people and business owners. It offers:

  • $2,000 per month in taxable benefits, paid monthly
  • Up to 16 weeks of payments
  • Availability from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020
  • Funds within 10 days of application.

The application portal can be found here. An FAQ document is available here.

Deferred Tax Filing Deadlines

  • The Canada Revenue Agency 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.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.
  • The Liaison Officer  service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.
  • The Government of Ontario will allow interest and payment relief until August 31st for businesses on the majority of provincially-administered taxes, including the Tobacco Tax; Fuel Tax; Gas Tax; Beer, Wine, and Spirits Tax; Mining Tax; Insurance Premium Tax; International Fuel Tax Agreement; and Race Tracks Tax. 

WSIB Premium and Reporting Deferrals

  • The Government of Ontario is allowing a six-month deferral on all WSIB premium payments and reporting.
  • All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package and can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. They will not be required to opt in to receive this benefit.
  • Additionally, the WSIB will cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments. They will not charge penalties during this six-month deferral period. There will be no negative consequences for businesses who defer premium reporting and payments. The WSIB will continue to fully cover workers at eligible workplaces.

Canada Post

  • Businesses that would like Canada Post to hold their mail can apply here,
  • Businesses that would like Canada Post to forward their mail to another address here.
  • Fees will be refunded, along with any mail holding and forwarding fees charged since March 1st.

COVID-19 Residential Relief Fund (CRRF)

  • The CRRF is available for residential service providers to manage the health and safety of children, youth and adults supported in residential settings, as well as the staff who support them.
  • The following would be eligible for CRRF:
    • Children’s residential services, including residential programs for Complex Special Needs, Child Welfare, Youth Justice, out-of-home respite for children with physical and/or developmental disabilities, and children’s developmental services
    • Gender-based violence residential programming, including Anti-Human Trafficking and Violence Against Women
    • Indigenous Healing and Wellness Strategy residential programming
    • Intervenor services
    • Adult Developmental Services residential supports.
  • Funding should be requested through a Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services regional or corporate office.

Calling all suppliers – Help Canada combat COVID-19
Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19? Canada wants to hear from you. Find out more here.

Small Business Support Resources

Ensure your business is prepared to handle a potential case of business disruption to mitigate potential financial impacts to your employees and your business.

Workplace Health and Safety / Federal Labour Standards:

Digital Tools to Keep Business Communications Open

Alternate Ways to Support Local Businesses During This Time

  • Purchase gift cards now to use later
  • Buy from local shops over their Etsy pages or their website (e-commerce shops)
  • Many local restaurants are offering take-out and delivery options
  • You can also order and have food delivered from local restaurants

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Exporting and Trade Resources

In an interconnected global economy, the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting Canadian businesses and their operations. It has resulted in restrictions on travel and public gatherings, as well as supply chain disruptions and market uncertainty.

The Trade Commissioner Service has an unmatched network of over 1,000 business-savvy experts in 160 cities worldwide who help Canadian businesses trade, grow, and succeed. Trade commissioners can provide you with market-specific insights and guidance to help you mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.

Limited Foreign Entry

  • Canada is  barring entry  to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents, a measure being introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • There will be exceptions for air crew, diplomats, immediate family members of citizens, and cargo workers.
  • No one who is displaying symptoms will be permitted to board a flight to Canada, and that air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every passenger based on guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
  • Note for businesses: The new border controls  will not  apply to trade and commerce in order to keep Canada’s supply chains open.

Resource: Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
CME is in contact with federal officials who are overseeing the response to the coronavirus. They will share additional available information and welcome your concerns and input. Website: Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Help Canadian Manufacturers Meet Critical Shortages in the Fight Against COVID-19
Next Generation Manufacturing Canada is amassing manufacturing capacity across the country to help the fight against COVID-19. Click here for more information.

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COVID-19 and Ontario’s Human Rights Code – Questions and Answers
The OHRC has developed a series of questions and answers for understanding your human rights and obligations during the COVID-19 pandemic. These questions and answers cover the rights and responsibilities of employers and employees, tenants and landlords, as well as residential institutions.

Disclaimer: The answers to the questions posed do not constitute legal advice. The OHRC continues to monitor the evolving situation and will update or add to these questions and answers on an ongoing basis as needed.

Changes to Job-Protected Leave
On March 16th, the Province of Ontario  announced  legislation which, if passed, would immediately provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures. The legislation would ensure that an employee  will not be required to provide a medical note  if they take the leave. The measures would be retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.

What this means for businesses:

  • Employees will have the right to job-protected leave for COVID-19 quarantine or isolation purposes, or to care for children.
  • Employees will not have to provide a medical note for COVID-19 leave.
  • Job protection for COVID-19 leave will be in effect from January 25th, 2020 onwards.

Changes to Employment Insurance
The Federal government announced changes to Employment Insurance, in light of recent events. Service Canada will support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:

  • The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim.
  • Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support inquiries related to waiving the  EI sickness benefits  waiting period.
  • Priority EI application processing for EI sickness claims for clients under quarantine.
  • Contact the new dedicated toll-free phone number if you are in quarantine and seeking to waive the one-week  EI sickness benefits  waiting period so you can be paid for the first week of your claim:
    • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
    • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

Emergency Care Benefit
The Federal government is also introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment Benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:

  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school or daycare closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.

Applications for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:

  • by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
  • by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
  • by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.

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Mental Health Resources

For many, the pressure and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious toll. Please see the materials below that will help business, employers, and employees manage their anxiety during this time:

Canadian Mental Health

6 tips to respond to employee anxiety about COVID-19

Mental health tips during COVID-19

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Toolkits

Ontario Chamber of Commerce – Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit

Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Pandemic Preparedness for Business

Business Support: Government of Canada
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Resources for Canadian Businesses

Business Development Bank of Canada
Support for Entrepreneurs Impacted by Coronavirus

Business Development Bank of Canada
Business Continuity Plan and Templates for Entrepreneurs

Business Development Bank of Canada (Export Development Canada)
Managing the impact on global supply chains

Employment Insurance and Labour and Occupational Health and Safety
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada

Ontario Ministry of Health
Stats and Self Assessment Tool

World Health Organization
COVID-19 Information for Business and Employees

Niagara Construction Association
COVID-19 Information for the Construction Industry

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Chamber Resources

You matter to us and here are just a few of the ways that we can help:

  • Resources: The GNCC is closely monitoring and assessing new developments pertaining to COVID-19, and its impact on Niagara businesses. This rapidly changing situation creates uncertainty and we have gathered and prepared extensive resources to help you through this time (Incl. link to Resources slider with the info as indicated above)
  • Digital marketing is of utmost importance to businesses as Niagara practices social distancing. Let us connect you to customers through our social media reach of 21,770 targeted local businesses, entrepreneurs, and engaged community members. With over 170,000 y-t-d impressions across our channels, your message will be heard. Please contact Corrina Massicotte, Director of Operations and Communication, at corrina@gncc.ca for further information.
  • Certificates of Origin – We have partnered with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to provide a fast, easy and effective way to obtain Certificates of Origin using an online platform called TradeCert that allows you to apply for Certificates of Origin from the comfort of your office Certificates-of-origin
  • Advocacy – We understand the stress and uncertainty of the last few weeks, and continued uncertainty looking towards the next few weeks and months for the physical and economic health of our community. We are confident that together, we can meet this challenge. In order to ensure this, the GNCC is lobbying for additional measures to help you through the COVID-19 crisis
  • Together 
    • The GNCC is reaching out to our members to learn more about their needs, to connect them with the resources they need, and to relay feedback to government.
    • The Chamber has issued a member survey for members to provide feedback during this time.
    • The Chamber is at the table with government officials to share information, provide advice, and problem-solve.

If you are a business owner and you are unsure what steps you should be taking, please contact the Chamber team info@gncc.ca

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