COVID Update #3
More updates this morning… Details below for farmers across the country, and any small business clients in Alberta and Ontario:
Yesterday, PM Trudeau announced an additional $5 billion in borrowing capacity for the agriculture sector. Applications are available now through Farm Credit Canada.
The Ontario government released its list of essential businesses. Any businesses on this list are allowed to remain open. You can find this list by clicking this link. Please note that this page is under heavy traffic load, and you may need to be patient for it to load.
This list is surprisingly broad. My sense is that this whole exercise in announcing a shutdown, then releasing a broad list is a “shot across the bow” for all businesses. I believe the province is trying to put everyone on notice that your industry may be ordered to shut down if you cannot conduct business responsibly, with top priority given to the safety of your staff and customers. This is conjecture on my part, but it makes sense.
Again, if your business is required to temporarily close due to these orders or for any other reason, please let us know. Your employees (and possibly you) will qualify for income support programs. Now is not the time to try to avoid applying for EI. If there ever was a time for employers to lean on the Employment Insurance program to help out their employees and their own businesses, this is it. We are here to help with Record of Employment filing, etc. if you need it.
The province recently announced a whole host of measures designed to help small businesses weather the COVID-19 storm. Here are the programs, in brief:
- Corporate income tax payment deadlines are extended: corporate income tax balances and installment payments will be deferred until August 31, 2020.
- Utility payment deferral available: residents, agri-businesses and small businesses can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days. No one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider. You need to call your utility provider directly to arrange for this deferral.
- Education property tax freeze: the Alberta government canceled the decision made in Budget 2020 and will freeze education property taxes at last year’s level (a savings of $32 million for businesses).
- Education property tax deferral: the Alberta government has deferred education property tax for businesses for the next six months.
- WCB premium deferral: WCB premiums have been deferred until early 2021. Employers who have already paid their WCB premium payment for 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit. We are not sure yet whether this rebate or credit will need to be applied for, or whether it will be applied to your account automatically. Hopefully WCB Alberta will communicate directly with account holders. In addition, for small and medium-sized businesses, the government with cover 50% of the premium when it is due.
ATB Financial and Alberta credit unions announced assistance to customers impacted by COVID-19. Details below…
ATB Financial customers impacted by COVID-19
- Customers can apply for a deferral on their ATB loans, lines of credit, and mortgages for up to six months. It would be wise to ensure you understand all details of this deferral before applying for it. Interest likely will not stop accruing, and a deferral MAY affect your credit profile. Ask for details before just accepting any debt repayment deferral!
- Small business customers, in addition to payment deferrals on loans and lines of credit, will be provided access to additional working capital.
- For other business and agriculture customers, ATB will work with customers on a one-on-one basis and further solutions are being considered at this time.
- For more information on ATB’s relief program, please visit their website.
If your province is not listed, it does not mean that we are ignoring you. We are struggling to digest everything, and either nothing significant has been announced, or we will get to you at a later date.
Thanks for reading. I wish all of you health, courage, and optimism for the day! If you are struggling mentally and emotionally with how to handle everything coming your way, please reach out to someone. We all need a little help from our friends from time to time to get through tough circumstances.