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  • Writer's pictureEssentia Law

An Overview of Canada's COVID-19 Economic Relief Measures To Date

The Government of Canada is implementing a number of relief measures to help Canadians in this time of uncertainty. The information below summarizes the latest emergency support available to businesses and individuals.


Wage Subsidy

UPDATE April 1, 2020:

The Government of Canada announced that employers of all sizes and across all sectors of the economy are eligible to apply for the wage subsidy, with the exception of public sector entities.

Businesses that are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may be able to apply for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10% of renumeration paid from March 18 to before June 20, 2020.

Application will be made through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. More details are still to follow.

UPDATE on March 31, 2020:

On Monday, Prime Minister Trudeau provided some more information on who will be eligible to apply for the wage subsidy and what amount it will cover:

Any business, not only small and medium sized businesses as initially indicated, as well as charities and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply. Applicants must have suffered at least a 30 % decrease in revenue due to COVID 19. Once the application has been successful, the Government will then cover up to 75% of employee wages, but only up to maximum of $58,700. That translates to a maximum of $847 per week.

There is still no further information regarding the application process and how the subsidy will be paid out.

Original post:

To support small businesses in keeping their employees on payroll, the Canadian Government implemented a temporary wage subsidy of 75% for up to three months that is retroactive to March 15, 2020. More details, such as if there is a cap and an end date are not yet available, but are expected by the end of the month.

This announcement increases the initially proposed 10% wage subsidy promised last week. Eligibility for the 10% subsidy was limited to employers that:

  • are a non-profit organization, registered charity, or a Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC) with taxable capital employed in Canada of less than $15 million;

  • have an existing business number and payroll program account with the CRA on March 18, 2020; and

  • pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration to an employee.

For simplicity, a CCPC is a corporation that is not traded on a stock exchange and is controlled by a Canadian resident.

Canada Emergency Business Account

The Canadian Government has made a $40,000 loan available under the new Canada Emergency Business Account. This provides eligible small and medium-sized businesses with an interest free option to keep their business afloat while revenues have decreased.

If the balance of the loan is repaid on or before December 31, 2022, 25% (up to $10,000) of the loan will be forgiven. To be eligible for this interest free loan, businesses have to be able to show a 2019 payroll between $50,000 and $1 million. More details, such as the length of the interest free period, are expected to become available soon.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

The BCAP has been created to support Canadian business in all sectors and regions with financing. Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will make more than $10 billion available in direct lending and other types of financial support. Canadian Businesses in need of financing should contact their financial institution to have their request assessed. The financial institution will then contact EDC and the BDC on their behalf.


Business owners will have until September 1, 2020 to pay any income tax amounts that become owing after March 18, 2020 without incurring penalties or interest.

Additionally, businesses and self-employed Canadians may defer GST, HST and customs payments to June 30, 2020.


Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)


Applications for CERB will open on April 6. Applicants are asked to apply on specific days of the week correlating with their birth month:

This benefit provides $2,000 per month for up to four months and will be paid on a bi-weekly basis retroactively to March 15. Payments are expected to start 10 days after an application has been submitted. CERB is available for Canadians who reported at least $5,000 in income in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to their application and who:

  • lost their job due to COVID-19;

  • are still employed, but receive no income due to work disruptions,

  • are sick or quarantined;

  • are taking care of someone affected by COVID-19;

  • are parents staying home from work to care for their children; or

  • are not eligible to apply for EI.

The Canadian Government further announced that the EI system is overwhelmed with the amount of new applications, so even if Canadians are eligible for EI, they may choose to apply for CERB instead to ensure a timely support. Everyone who already receives EI and/or sickness benefits will continue to do so and should not apply for CERB.

CERB will be accessible through a secure web portal on the CRA website. Applicants will also be able to apply via an automated telephone line or via a toll-free number. More details on how to apply for CERB are expected to become available in the next few days.

Rent Support for BC Residents

UPDATE April 9, 2020:

Application for the BC Temporary Rental Supplement Program are now open on the BC Housing website. To eligible households need to meet each of the following:

  1. Have a 2019 household income of less than $74,150 for singles and couples and $113,040 for households with dependents.

  2. Receive EI or CERB (or be eligible for either) and experienced a drop of 25% or more in monthly household employment income as a result of COVID-19.

  3. Pay more than 30% of the current household income towards rental payments.

The BC Government announced up to $500 in rent supplement for four months. This support is available to renters who have been hit with financial hardship due to COVID-19, but do not otherwise qualify for existing rental assistance. The support will be paid directly to landlords on behalf of the tenant. The application process is still under development, but the provincial Government promised availability in early April.

Further housing measures include

  • freezing annual rent increases;

  • halting most evictions;

  • restricting landlord access to rental units without the consent of the tenant;

  • restricting methods that renters and landlords can use to serve notices; and

  • allowing landlords to restrict the use of common areas.


The due date to file 2019 income tax returns has been deferred to June 1, 2020. The new deadline for payments of any balances due for 2019 returns is September 1, 2020. However, individuals that expect to qualify for the Goods and Service Tax credit or the Canada Child Benefit listed below, should file their 2019 tax return sooner than later to ensure early determination on eligibility.

BC Emergency Benefit For Workers

This benefit will provide a one-time payment of $1,000 to BC residents who lost income because of COVID-19. Individuals on EI or receiving support through CERB will also be eligible for the BC Emergency Benefit for Workers. Application are said to open soon.

BC Hydro

The BC Hydro COVID-19 Customer Assistance Program provides customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange for flexible payment plans with no penalty. Customers are encouraged to call BC Hydro's customer team at 1 800 BCHYDRO (1 800 224 9376) to discuss bill payment options.

Customers facing temporary financial hardship and possible disconnection of their service due to job loss, illness, or loss of a family member may also be eligible for BC Hydro's Customer Crisis Fund, which provides access to grants of up to $600 to pay their bills.

BC Climate Action Tax Credit (BCCATC)

The BCCATC alleviates the impact of the carbon tax. To be eligible, individuals must

  • be a resident of BC;

  • be 19 years of age or older; or

  • have a spouse or common-law partner; or

  • be a parent who resides with their child.

Eligible BC residents will receive the credit payment from CRA combined with the GST/HST quarterly payment. Adults will receive up to $218 (up from $43,50) and a child will receive $64 (up from $12.75).

Mortgage Support

Canadian banks announced that they will provide support through mortgage deferrals on a case-by-case basis, while the Canadian Government added that this support may include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages. Individuals hoping to take advantage of mortgage support should contact their financial institution.

Canada Child Benefit

An extra $300 per child will be provided through the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) and delivered through the CCB payment in May 2020. Families receiving CCB do not need to re-apply.

Goods and Service Tax Credit

The Canadian Government is providing a one-time Goods and Service tax credit to low- and modest-income families of roughly $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples. This is applied automatically upon eligibility, so there is no need to apply.


As of March 30, student loan payments will be paused interest free for six months. That means no payment is needed and there will be no interest accruing.


The filing due date for trusts with a taxation year end of December 31, 2019 will be deferred to May 1, 2020.


Generally, Canadians are able to withdraw more than the set minimums from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs), but not less. The Government reduced the minimum withdrawals by 25% for 2020.


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