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Today (April 21), following Saskatchewan’s announcement of a multi-phase plan to reopen, the Prime Minister is discussing the process of restarting parts of the economy with the premiers.
Although some provinces, like Quebec and Ontario, continue to see hundreds of new cases daily, others have gone several days with no new cases.
Additionally, more financial relief is now available for both individuals and small businesses.
Ongoing Individual Relief
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is available for individuals affected by COVID-19 but otherwise ineligible for Employment Insurance.
Individuals must have made at least $5,000 in 2019 and must not make more than $1,000 for the 4-week period for which they are applying.
Applications for April 12–May 9, 2020, opened last week. Individuals may still apply. We will update you when the new applications open for May 10–June 6.
Business Wage Subsidies
Canadian employers affected by COVID-19 may be eligible for a subsidy of their employees' wages for up to 12 weeks (retroactive from March 15–June 6, 2020).
The subsidy covers 75% of an employee's wages (up to $847 per week).
Employers of all sizes and across all sectors are eligible if they suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March, and 30% in April and May.
Applications open April 27.
Commercial Rent Assistance
Today, Ontario announced a partnership with the federal government to deliver urgent relief to small businesses and their landlords through the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA).
OCECRA provides forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls from their small business tenants who were impacted by COVID-19.
Small business tenants and landlords will each be asked to pay 25% of the before-profit costs and the provincial/federal governments would cost-share the remaining 50% of the rent.
To be eligible, property owners must reduce rental costs for April to June 2020 by at least 75% and sign a rent forgiveness agreement with tenants (including a moratorium on evictions for three months).
Eligible small business tenants: (i) Pays monthly rent not exceeding $50,000 in gross rent payments; and (ii) Non-essential business that has temporarily closed or Essential business experiencing a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues (not-for-profits charities will also be considered for the program).
Relief for Seniors and the Disabled
On April 21, Ontario announced much-needed support for seniors and persons with disabilities, including investing $11 million to help deliver meals, medicines, and other essentials.
The province will also be issuing the first doubled-payments of Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS). Individuals will receive up to $166 per month and couples will receive up to $332 per month.
These doubled payments will continue for 6 months and provide an additional $75 million to 194,000 vulnerable seniors who may need more help to cover essential expenses during the COVID-19 outbreak.