COVID-19 Updates

March 24, 2020

* NOTE: As information is rapidly changing, the below details were accurate at time of issue. Information may change quickly. Please refer to the links at the bottom for the most up to date details.

SUPPORT FOR OUR AGRICULTURE SECTOR

What supports are available for the farming community?
  • On Friday March 20th, 2020: the Government announced an exemption for the Temporary Foreign Worker and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Programs following the closure of the border to the majority of non-citizens. This exemption includes seasonal agricultural workers, fish/seafood workers, caregivers and all other temporary foreign workers.
  • A number of changes to the Temporary Foreign Worker and Seasonal Agriculture Worker Programs. These changes include:
    • A temporary modification to the Labour Market Impact Assessment process for agriculture and food processing employers, waving the 2-week recruitment period for the next 6 months.
    • Increasing the maximum allowable employment duration for workers in the low-wage stream of the Temporary Foreign Worker Program from 1 to 2 years.
  • Farm Credit Canada will receive support from the Government of Canada that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors. This will offer increased flexibility to farmers who face cashflow issues and to processors who are impacted by lost sales, helping them remain financially strong during this difficult time.
  • In addition, all eligible farmers who have an outstanding Advance Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30 will receive a Stay of Default, allowing them an additional six months to repay the loan. This important measure, which represents $173 million in deferred loans, will help keep more money in farmers’ pockets during these critical months.
  • The Stay of Default will also provide farmers the flexibility they need to manage their cashflow when facing lower prices or reduced marketing opportunities. Applicable farmers who still have interest-free loans outstanding will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $100,000 interest-free portion for 2020-2021, as long as their total APP advances remain under the $1 million cap.

 


CANADA – US BORDER


The Canada-US Border closed at Midnight on March 20th, 2020.We know the security at our borders is an area where the Liberals have failed in the past, and we even heard in mid March from Minister Blair that the illegal border crossers were still being permitted to cross, and put in to 14 day isolation.To provide you with the most recent update, the Canada-US border has been closed to all non-essential travel. This includes all non-citizens. Therefore it is expected illegal border crosses will no longer be accepted and put in to 14-day isolation.Our understanding it was announced in late March by the Liberal government illegal migrants will no longer be permitted to cross into Canada. They will be turned back to the United States.


Federal Financial Support for Businesses and Individuals

On Wednesday March 18th, 2020 the Government of Canada announced a new set of economic measures to provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.
These will be available in the coming weeks: 

Emergency Care Benefit for Self-employed Canadians

  • Self-employed Canadians, including parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures and are unable to earn employment income, can apply for the Emergency Care Benefit.
  • This benefit is up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. NOTE: Applicants will need to re-attest every two weeks.
  • APPLICATION FOR THIS BENEFIT WILL BE AVAILABLE IN EARLY APRIL 2020

Who can apply?

  • The self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • 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 closures and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI.

Where to apply (opens in early April 2020):
CRA MyAccount secure portal
My Service Canada Account
An automated telephone application process

Emergency Support Benefit

  • This is a $5 billion fund to create a support for workers not eligible for EI.
  • We will update this page as more details on this benefit become available.
  • It will be available in April 2020.

GST Credit

  • Adults currently receiving the GST credit will receive up to $300, and up to $150 per child.
  • We will update this page as more details become available.
  • It will be available in April 2020.

Enhanced Canada Child Benefit

  • The government is increasing the maximum annual CCB payment by $300 per child for the 2019-20 benefit year.
  • We will update this page as more details become available.
  • Parents will likely see this benefit in early May 2020.

Temporary Business Wage Subsidy

  • Eligible small employers will receive a subsidy equal to 10% of wages for a period of three months.
  • The maximum subsidy is $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
  • Eligible employers include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.
  • This benefit is available immediately, with supporting legislation to follow.

Canada Student Loan Payments

  • This is a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans.
  • We will update this page as more details become available.
  • It will be effective in early April 2020, after receiving Royal Assent.

Support for Indigenous Communities

  • A new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit and Métis Nation Communities.
  • We will update this page as more details become available.
  • This will be effective in April 2020.

Support for people experiencing homelessness (through Reaching Home)

  • Additional funding for the Reaching Home Initiative, for supplies like additional beds and physical barriers for social distancing, to continue to support people experiencing homelessness.
  • We will update this page as more details become available.
  • This will be effective in April 2020.

Support for women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, including on reserve

  • Supporting women and children fleeing violence to help shelters with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.
  • We will update this page as more details become available.
  • This will be effective in April 2020.

Lower Registered Retirement Income Fund Minimum Withdrawal Amounts

  • Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020.
  • This benefit is available immediately, with supporting legislation to follow.

Other supports:

  • Flexibility for individual and corporate taxpayers (tax payment deferral until September)
    • New individual tax filing deadline: June 1, 2020
    • Deferral of any income tax owing until August 2020.
  • Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) through BDC and EDC
    • Available immediately
    • Small Business Loan: Up to $100,000 can be obtained online. Link: https://www.bdc.ca/en/financing/business-loans/pages/small-business-loan.aspx 
    • Working capital loan: For loans over $100,000 and can support everyday operations. Link: https://www.bdc.ca/en/financing/business-loans/working-capital-financing/pages/working-capital-loan.aspx 
    • Purchase Order Financing: Loans to fulfill domestic or international orders. Link:  https://www.bdc.ca/en/financing/business-loans/pages/purchase-order-financing.aspx 
  • Credit and liquidity support through financial Crown corporations 
    • Available through the Bank of Canada, OSFI, CMHC and commercial lenders (e.g., Domestic Stability Buffer, Insured Mortgage Purchase Program, Banker’s Acceptance Purchase Facility)

 


TAX DEADLINE EXTENDED

Canada Revenue Agency will defer its filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals and certain trusts:

For individuals, the filing date has been pushed back to June 1, 2020. The original filing date was April 30.

For trusts with a taxation year ending on Dec. 31, 2019, the due date for filing returns has been moved back to May 1.

Individuals may defer their income tax payments until after Aug. 31, 2020 with no interest or penalties.

For business owners, you will also be allowed to defer income tax payments until after Aug. 31 without any interest or penalties.

More information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html#Flexibility_for_Tax-filers


EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE

Information about Employment Insurance related to COVID-19:

The federal government has established a phone line dedicated to inquiries regarding EI claims related to COVID-19.

Questions related to EI and COVID-19 can be directed to this line for assistance and information:

1-833-381-2725

This is a dedicated line for those looking to apply for EI benefits because you have had to self-isolate and cannot work, you are an employee or employer looking to apply for financial support through the EI Work-sharing program, or you have been laid off due to COVID-19.

Information is rapidly changing, I will continue to endeavour to provide the most up to date information to constituents as soon as it is made available.

Link for more details: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/corporate/notices/coronavirus.html


Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

On Wednesday March 18th, 2020 the Government of Canada announced a new set of economic measures to provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.

Details are forthcoming. I will provide updates as they become available. Focus includes:

Support for Canadians
Income Support for Individuals Who Need it Most
Flexibility for Taxpayers
Mortgage Default Management Tools
Role of Financial Institutions

Support for Businesses
Supporting Canadian Businesses Through the Canada Account
Helping Businesses Keep Their Workers
Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes
Ensuring Businesses have Access to Credit
Supporting Financial Market Liquidity

Full news release available here: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html


Canadians Abroad

While abroad, you may have come in contact with the novel coronavirus.

The government’s call for returning travellers to self-isolate was made this weekend.

Expectations for returning travellers and others who are self-isolating include:

  • Staying home from work and school (where schools are still open);
  • Avoiding public transportation;
  • Arranging to have supplies such as groceries dropped off at their doors;
  • Especially avoiding elderly people and anyone with compromised immune systems or chronic conditions;
  • Keeping any unavoidable interactions with other people brief, maintaining at least two metres’ distance from them and wearing a mask.

To further protect those around you, wash your hands often and cover your mouth and nose with your arm when coughing or sneezing.

If you start having symptoms of COVID-19, isolate yourself from others as quickly as possible. Immediately call a health care professional or the public health authority in the province or territory where you are located. Describe your symptoms and travel history. They will provide advice on what you should do.

Government of Canada to provide financial assistance to Canadians abroad 

In light of the multiple measures implemented by governments throughout the world to contain the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), the Government of Canada advises Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice.

Many countries have put in place travel or border restrictions and other measures such as movement restrictions and quarantines. Airlines have cancelled flights. New restrictions may be imposed with little warning. Your travel plans may be severely disrupted.

To help Canadians abroad return home, the Government of Canada is creating a special financial assistance program, the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad. With this program, Canadian abroad directly impacted by COVID-19 will have the option of applying for an emergency loan of up to $5,000 to help secure their timely return to Canada and to temporarily cover their life-sustaining needs while they work toward their return.

In addition, the Government of Canada will provide additional support to Canadians directly affected by COVID-19 and unable to immediately return home. This support will be provided through new partnerships with local and other organizations and will complement existing consular services.

The Government of Canada encourages all Canadians abroad to register with the Registration of Canadians Abroad service to get the latest updates on the situation at their destination.


Eligible Canadians currently outside Canada and needing help to return home can contact the nearest Government of Canada office or Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885 (collect calls are accepted where available) or email sos@international.gc.ca


IMPORTANT CONTACT INFORMATION:

Canadians abroad in need of emergency consular assistance can call Global Affairs Canada’s 24/7 Emergency Watch and Response Centre in Ottawa at +1 613-996-8885, or email sos@international.gc.ca. For a list of toll free numbers: https://travel.gc.ca/assistance/emergency-assistance/toll-free-numbers

If you are looking for information on COVID-19, please try the following resources for information:

Alberta Response to COVID-19:
https://www.alberta.ca/coronavirus-info-for-albertans.aspx

Canada Public Health:
https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/coronavirus-disease-covid-19.html

World Health Organization:
https://www.who.int/news-room/q-a-detail/q-a-coronaviruses

Alberta Health Services:
https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/


INFORMATION FOR BUSINESSES

On March 13, 2020 the federal government announced that the government is establishing a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to support financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).

Here are the current options available:

Small Business Loan: Up to $100,000 can be obtained online.
Working Capital Loan: For loans over $100,000 and can support everyday operations.
Purchase Order Financing: Loans to fulfill domestic or international orders.

If you have specific questions about applying for funding, BDC can be reached at the toll-free number: 1-877-232-2269 Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). They also have an online assessment tool.

CFIB Supporting Businesses:

CFIB is offering advice and assistance to businesses navigating all of this. CFIB has opened their Helpline to all business owners including non-CFIB members for advice on managing COVID-19 situations in the workplace.

To talk to an expert, please call them at 1-888-234-2232.


Canada’s Six Biggest Banks Take Decisive Action to Help Customers Impacted by COVID-19


Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; childcare disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19.


This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.


Individual Canadians or business owners facing hardship are encouraged to contact their bank directly to discuss options that could be available to them.


More information: http://www.rbc.com/newsroom/news/2020/20200317-client-support.html?fbclid=IwAR39PuO9awjS7nbin4Wljq6_cAH3P65IyKI76gpaBCcIYWYPAHJMuJJbZgY


Know The Facts About Coronavirus (COVID-19)


COVID-19 is an illness caused by a coronavirus. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold.

Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to the virus. Coronaviruses are most commonly spread from an infected person through:
· Respiratory droplets when you cough or sneeze
· Close personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
· Touching something with the virus on it, then touching your eyes, nose or mouth before washing your hands

These viruses are not known to spread through ventilation systems or through water.

The best way to prevent the spread of infections is to:
· Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds;
· Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth, especially with unwashed hands; avoid close contact with people who are sick;
· Avoid close contact with people who are sick;
· When coughing or sneezing:
· Cover you mouth and nose with your arm or tissues to reduce the spread of germs
· Immediately dispose of any tissues you have used into the garbage as soon as possible and wash your hands afterwards
· Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces, such as toys, electronic devices and doorknobs
· Stay home if you are sick to avoid spreading illness to others.

If you have symptoms of COVID-19—fever, cough, or difficult breathing:
· Stay home to avoid spreading it to others
· If you live with others, stay in a separate room or keep a two-meter distance
· Call ahead before you visit a health care professional or call you local public health authority
· Tell them your symptoms and follow their instructions
· If you need immediate medical attention, call 911 and tell them your symptoms


Vulnerable Populations and COVID-19

While diseases can make anyone sick, some Canadians are more at risk of getting an infection and developing severe complications due to their health, social and economic circumstances.

Vulnerable populations may include:

Anyone who is:
· An older adult
· At risk due to underlying medical conditions (e.g. heart disease, hypertension, diabetes, chronic respiratory diseases, diabetes, cancer)
· At risk due to a compromised immune system from a medical condition or treatment (e.g. chemotherapy)

Anyone who has:
· Difficulty reading, speaking, understanding or communicating
· Difficulty accessing medical care or health advice
· Difficulty doing preventive activities, like frequent hand washing and covering coughs and sneezes
· Ongoing specialized medical care or needs specific medical supplies
· Ongoing supervision needs or support for maintaining independence
· Unstable employment or inflexible working conditions
· Social or geographic isolation, like in remote and isolated communities
· Insecure, inadequate, or nonexistent housing conditions


How your organization/business can support vulnerable populations

Provide clear instructions about how to wash hands and cover coughs using:

· the most commonly used language in the community
· short messages that explain simple steps they can take
· large font and graphics
· accessible instructions (e.g., braille, pictoral)
· by posting signs in common areas near sinks, entrances, intake areas, restrooms, sleeping areas, recreation areas, waiting rooms

Consider supporting alternatives such as:

· using volunteer drivers and subsidized taxi fares instead of public transportation
· putting in place alternative outreach measures or a “buddy” system
· including policies to allow sick clients to rest in shelters during the day
· providing access to food, drinks and supplies, as possible
· reminding clients to fill or refill prescriptions, and necessary medical supplies

If you suspect a client is sick from COVID-19, please contact your local public health authority.