Overview of Government Responses to COVID-19

Government Financial Supports for Consumers, Workers and Businesses Across Canada
Updated March 27, 2020

This page provides information on some of the key financial-related measures announced by governments across Canada to support consumers, workers and businesses through the unprecedented disruption caused by COVID-19. Content will be updated as any significant new measures are announced.

 

Federal Government

On March 25, the federal government announced changes to its COVID-19 Economic Response Plan in order to streamline benefits for Canadians.

Specifically, the changes merge two previously announced benefits – the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit – into a single, more widely-accessible benefit, called the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit will provide $2,000 per month (for up to four months) to workers who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The benefit would apply to wage earners, as well as contract-workers and the self-employed who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

Additionally, workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income due to COVID-19-related work disruptions, also qualify for the new benefit. This will help businesses keep their employees through the ongoing disruption, so they can quickly resume operations once things are back to normal.

Other supports previously announced as part of the Economic Response Plan include:

 

  • Easing the process and requirements for accessing Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits;
  • Deferring the filing due date for 2019 tax returns of individuals to June 1, 2020, and certain trusts to May 1, 2020. Payment of certain income tax amounts will also be deferred until after August 31, 2020;
  • Deferring repayment of Canada Student Loans for six months;
  • Increasing maximum annual Canada Child Benefit payment amounts by $300 per child for 2019-2020;
  • Through the Goods and Services Tax Credit, doubling the maximum payment amounts for 2019-2020 to qualifying individuals; and
  • Reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Requirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25% for 2020.

Some of the key supports for businesses include:

  • Extending the eligibility of EI Work-Sharing Program agreements and streamlining application processes;
  • Providing a temporary (three month) wage subsidy to eligible small businesses to help keep workers employed (up to $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer);
  • Creation of a Business Credit Availability Program, which will provide more than $10 billion in direct lending and other financial support, primarily to small and medium-sized businesses; and
  • Deferred payment of certain income tax amounts and temporary suspension of most audits.

Complete information on the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, including additional initiatives, can be found online on the Goverment of Canada website.

 

British Columbia

On March 23 the Government of British Columbia put forward its COVID-19 Action Plan, which includes more than $5 billion in income supports, tax relief and direct funding for people, businesses and services. Some of the Plan’s key supports include:

  • A new BC Emergency Benefit for Workers, which will provide a one-time tax-free $1000 payment to qualifying British Columbians whose ability to work has been impacted by the outbreak;
  • Increasing and expanding the BC Climate Action Tax Credit. Eligible families of four will now receive up to $564 and eligible individuals up to $218;
  • Suspending required payments for provincial student loans for the next 6 months; and
  • Introducing a number of provincial tax changes for businesses, including:
    • Deferring (until September 30, 2020) filing and payment deadlines for the following taxes: the employer health tax, PST (including municipal and regional district tax), carbon tax, motor fuel tax, and tobacco tax;
    • Postponing certain tax changes announced in the 2020 provincial budget;
    • Delaying any increase in the carbon tax rate until further notice; and
    • Reducing school tax rates by 50% for business and light- and major-industry property classes.

The government has also pledged to eventually produce dedicated funding for particularly hard-hit parts of the economy (such as tourism and hospitality) as part of a longer-term recovery plan.

The government has also established an all-in-one resource page for all things COVID-19, with information on programs and supports currently available for consumers, workers and businesses.

For more information on the supports identified above, visit the Government of British Columbia website.

 

Alberta

The Government of Alberta has announced several new funding and support measures for Alberta consumers, workers and businesses. Some of the key measures include:

  • Job-protected leave for those required to self-isolate or those caring for a dependent required to self-isolate;
  • A one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 for eligible working Albertans required to self-isolate
  • Deferral of corporate income tax balances and instalment payments;
  • Deferral of utility payments for 90 days for residential, farm and small commercial customers; and
  • Deferral of Alberta Student Loan repayments for 6 months.

The government plans to provide weekly updates on its COVID-19 response going forward, including any new measures enacted. These updates can be found online at www.alberta.ca.

Additional information on the initiatives listed above can be found online on the Government of Alberta website.

 

Saskatchewan

The Government of Saskatchewan has established a financial support plan for workers and employers impacted by COVID-19. This plan includes:

Complete information on these and other initiatives (including anticipated future initiatives) is available on the Government of Saskatchewan website.

 

Manitoba

As part of its 2020 Budget, the Government of Manitoba introduced a COVID-19 Emergency Supplement, which provides an estimate of the impact COVID-19 will have on the province’s economic growth going forward, and an outline of the government’s response plan.

Beyond this response plan, the government has announced assistance for small and medium-sized businesses in the form of extended tax filing deadlines for those with monthly remittances of less than $10,000. Businesses are also being given up to two additional months to remit retail sales taxes and the Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Levy. More information on this is available online on the Government of Manitoba website.

 

Ontario

On March 25, as part of the 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update, the government released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19. The Action Plan outlines the province’s complete $17 billion dollar response to COVID-19.

Adding to previously passed job protection legislation, the Action Plan includes many new supports for consumers, workers and employers. Notably:

  • Doubling maximum Guaranteed Annual Income System payments for seniors for the next six months ($166 per month for individuals; $332 for couples)
  • Providing families with a one-time payment of $200 per child (up to age 12), and $250 for those with special needs, to help cover extra costs associated with school and daycare closures;
  • Deferring student loan payments for six months;
  • Establishing several energy-related benefits and offsets for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers, including setting rates for time-of-use customers at the lowest off-peak rate full time for the next 45 days, and expanding family eligibility for the Low-Income Energy Assistance Program;
  • Cutting taxes for 57,000 employers by temporarily increasing exemption to the Employer Health Tax (from $490,000 to $1 million for eligible private-sector employers with annual payrolls of less than $5 million);
  • Creating a new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit to support regions lagging in employment growth;
  • Providing a six-month deferral for employer Workplace Safety and Insurance Board payments; and
  • Providing a five-month deferral on the payment period for certain provincially administered taxes

For complete information on these and other supports announced as part of the Action Plan, see online at the Government of Ontario website.

 

Québec

The Government of Québec has announced financial support measures both for workers and businesses in the province, including:

  • Providing temporary financial assistance ($573 per week) to workers who are in isolation due to COVID-19, who are unable to earn all their work income and are not eligible for another financial assistance program;
  • Following the federal government in reducing the amount of mandatory withdrawal from RRIFs by 25% in 2020;
  • Postponing the individual tax filing deadline to June 1, 2020 and the payment date for tax balances owing to September 1, 2020; and
  • Committing at least $2.5 billion to help companies facing liquidity issues in the form of low-interest loans and loan guarantees of at least $50,000

More information on these and other initiatives can be found on the Government of Québec website.

 

Newfoundland and Labrador

The government is expected to bring forward a bill this week to further help the province deal with the financial impacts of COVID-19. Supports announced by the government to date in Newfoundland and Labrador include:

  • Suspending required payments for provincial student loans for the next 6 months; and
  • Subsidizing families’ payments to regulated childcare centres and family childcare homes that have closed due to COVID-19.

Information can be found as it is released on the Government of Newfoundland and Labrador website.

 

Nova Scotia

The Government of Nova Scotia announced $161 million in measures to help individuals, families and businesses facing economic hardship due to COVID-19. Some of the key measures announced so far include:

  • Deferring payments until June 30 for all government loans and small business fees, including renewal fees and workers compensation premiums;
  • Making changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program including deferring principal and interest payments, enhancing access to credit and making loan qualification easier;
  • Suspending required payments for provincial student loans for the next 6 months;
  • Increasing income assistance benefits and funding for programs that help vulnerable older adults.

Complete information on these and other government initiatives can be found online on the Government of Nova Scotia website.

 

New Brunwick

The Government of New Brunswick has announced several measures so far to assist consumers, employees and businesses, while indicating their intention to look closely at additional recovery supports once the situation has stabilized. Specific measures so far include:

  • Suspending required payments for provincial student loans for the next 6 months;
  • Subsidizing childcare fees for certain individuals, including those who have lost income due to COVID-19 and those who have been deemed essential workers (more information is available here); and
  • Deferring WorkSafeNB premiums for businesses for three months.

For the business community, the government has also published extensive guidance on how to navigate the current crisis. This guidance includes a comprehensive FAQ and information on available financial assistance for business owners, and is available online on the Government of New Brunswick website.

 

Prince Edward Island

The Government of Prince Edward Island has announced a number of financial benefits to support workers, small businesses and the self-employed. Key measures include:


  • Providing a temporary allowance of $250 per week to those who have experienced a significant drop in their working hours through an Emergency Relief Worker Assistance Program;
  • Establishing the Emergency Income Relief Fund for self-employed individuals, providing those who have been impacted by COVID-19 with up to $500 per week;
  • Providing $4.5 million to Community Business Development Corporations across the province to deliver financing to small businesses and entrepreneurs;
  • Deferring scheduled loan payments for clients of Finance PEI, Island Investment Development Inc., and the PEI Century Fund for the next 3 months;
  • Providing emergency working capital financing (up to $100,000) to assist qualifying small businesses in maintaining normal operations; and
  • Suspending required payments for provincial student loans for the next 6 months.

Complete information on these and other government supports can be found on the Government of Prince Edward Island website.

 

Yukon

The Yukon government announced a $4 million stimulus package to help workers and businesses manage during the current crisis, with additional help expected for entrepreneurs and small businesses. Some of the key tenets of this stimulus package include:

  • Providing paid sick leave to those workers in 14-day isolation;
  • Deferring Workers Compensation Health and Safety premium payments and reimbursing fees paid up front; and
  • Waiving, reimbursing or delaying certain government fee collection.

More information on these and other initiatives is available online on the Government of Yukon website.

 

Northwest Territories

The Government of Northwest Territories announced an initial relief package of $13.2 million in new and previously earmarked money for businesses, residents and local governments across the province. Key measures included in the package are:

  • $5 million for low-interest business loans through the territory’s Business Development and Investment Corporation (BDIC) and deferral of BDIC loan payments for up to three months;
  • Due date extension for employer Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission payments;
  • Increased funding for the province’s income assistance program;
  • Deferral of student loan payments for six months; and
  • Suspension of certain government-collected fees.

The government has already indicated their willingness to provide additional relief measures to assist residents and businesses if necessary. More information on the announced provisions can be found online here.

 

Nunavut

The Government of Nunavut has not yet announced any specific new economic measures to address the impacts of COVID-19 in the province. However, as part of the federal government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, $305 million has been earmarked for Indigenous communities. While details must yet be confirmed, reports expect that some of this money will be available to Indigenous communities in Nunavut.