PwC Canada experts offer advice on federal and provincial business assistance in a webinar. (Greater Vancouver Board of Trade)

Businesses advised to prepare for federal, B.C. COVID-19 assistance

Canada Revenue Agency portal expected to open this week

Navigating Canadian and B.C. government programs offering business assistance for the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic has been a daunting task, with the programs themselves evolving and taking time to establish as millions of people are forced out of work.

A web program presented April 1 by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade offers a checklist of steps for businesses to take as they prepare for Ottawa’s expanded wage subsidy program and other assistance to businesses.

The 75 per cent wage subsidy requires a vote in the House of Commons to approve the expenditure. Finance Minister Bill Morneau has indicated that delivery of funds will take about six weeks to establish an application and approval process.

An important step that can be taken now, said PwC Canada experts leading the web program, is to make sure a Canada Revenue Agency business account is set up with accurate direct deposit information to allow transfer of funds. The “my CRA business account” page is here.

CRA is establishing a new portal to house various application forms, expected to be up and running the week of April 6. The CRA is allowing deferred GST and federal tax payments owing from March 27 to the end of June, but requires businesses to continue to file tax returns. More information from CRA is here.

The federal finance department has established the Canada Emergency Business Account, with loans of up to $40,000, interest free for one year. They will be delivered through financial institutions with a federal loan guarantee. That program is also expected to be available the week of April 6, and information is available here.

The federal wage subsidy program will extend to businesses, non-profits and charities, aimed at keeping people in their jobs. It requires employers to show a 30 per cent drop in gross revenues of at least 30 per cent in March, April or May, compared with the same month or months in 2019. It would apply at a rate of 75 per cent of the first $58,700 normally earned by an employee, for a benefit of up to $847 per week. Employers should check their eligibility here.

RELATED: Canada’s 75% wage subsidy is coming – in six weeks

RELATED: Trudeau says Parliament needs to pass COVID-19 aid

Businesses should share information with employees on the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, which offers up to $2,000 per month for four months for workers who have lost their income for reasons related to COVID-19 including sickness, quarantine, and needing to stay home with children. Applications for that are expected to be open the week of April 6, with payments expected to begin by April 16. Details are here.

From the B.C. government, provincial sales tax and employer health tax payments may be deferred to Sept. 30. A list of provincial tax deferments is available here.

The B.C. emergency benefit for workers, a tax-free one-time payment of $1,000 for individuals who qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, is expected to be available in May. Details are here.

B.C. Hydro is offering residential and small business customers who lose employment due to COVID-19 a three-month “holiday” equal to their average monthly bill over the past year. Bills will be waived for April, May and June for qualifying businesses, and details are available here.

• ICBC is allowing affected customers to defer payments for 90 days, including for fleet insurance. Details are here.

The PwC Canada presentation is part of a series of web programs hosted by the Greater Vancouver Board of Trade. The series can be found here.


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