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While cases of the novel coronavirus are continuing to increase in Ontario (4,038 cases as of April 5, 2020), Ontario issued a second emergency order, urging residents to stay home and limiting social gatherings to a maximum of 5 people.
The list of essential business was pared-down, including certain types of construction projects and specific retailers, such as cannabis stores. Stores selling hardware, pet supplies, computer and office supplies, auto parts, and safety gear are now restricted to offering curbside or pickup services only. However, supermarkets, pharmacies, gas stations, LCBO outlets, and the Beer Store remain open. The updated list took effect on April 5, 2020, and is provided here.
Last week, the government also updated the list of available financial relief for individuals and businesses seeking financial relief due to COVID-19. More details are provided below.
About one million Canadians have applied for unemployment benefits and a survey found that 44% of Canadian households have suffered from job losses or reduced hours (more info here).
In addition to a new GST special payment and other benefits (up to $400 per individual and $600 per couple; $300 per child), there are two relief options for individuals:
Employment Insurance: Those who paid into employment insurance and worked more than 600 hours last year may be eligible for EI Sickness Benefits, which provide up to 15 weeks of financial assistance if you are unable to work. You could receive 55% of your earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week. Applications are open online, and more information is available here.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit: If you do not qualify for EI, you may be eligible for CERB, which provides $2,000 per month for up to 4 months for workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick, or employees who have been asked not to come to work. Applications for the CERB will begin the week of Monday, April 6, 2020.
More information on both benefits is available here.
To support small businesses, the Canadian Government plans to do the following:
Subsidize 75% of wages for qualifying businesses (retroactive to March 15).
Allow small businesses and self-employed individuals to defer all GST/HST payments until June.
Make up to $25 billion available for banking institutions to provide interest-free loans to small businesses.
Provide an additional Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program for companies that require more assistance based on their operational cash flow requirements.
Detailed information on these benefits is provided here.
LANDLORDS AND TENANTS
The Ontario Landlord and Tenant Board is closed (with no tentative reopening date), and tenant evictions were accordingly halted. Although Doug Ford noted that tenants facing economic hardships should feed their families before paying rent, the province- and city-level governments were silent as to any sort of rent relief or abatement.
On April 1, many landlords expressed their concerns regarding unpaid rent. Many small landlords rely on their monthly rental income, and like their tenants, are facing similar economic hardships from job loss or lessened income.
Levstein, Azan anticipates that the provincial or the Canadian government will specifically address this issue through either rent refunds due to the landlord or through its stimulus benefits noted above. We will provide more details as they arise.
As noted above, many landlords are not receiving rent and, like others who cannot pay their mortgage, are seeking mortgage deferrals.
The Big Six banks announced that they would allow mortgage deferrals for up to 6 months if the mortgage payments were current. However, it is important to note that this is not mortgage forgiveness. The unpaid interest is added onto the principal balance at either the end of the deferral or when the mortgage renews, meaning that deferring a mortgage could cost homeowners more overall.
We’ve provided a helpful chart below about the assistance available.