COVID-19 Update for March 23, 2020 – All Province Update

Across the Provinces: Economic Support

British Columbia today became the latest province to announce a package supporting businesses and employees impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Here’s what every province and territory has announced so far.

British Columbia – British Columbia is bringing in a limited Legislative session to pass two bills: employment standards legislation to ensure that workers have job-protected leave (similar to Alberta, Saskatchewan, and Ontario), and a supplementary spending bill. The government is allocating $2.8 billion for this. A new Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free $1,000 payment for those whose work is impacted by the outbreak. Businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until September 30. The tax filing and payment deadline for BC’s PST, municipal/regional district taxes, tobacco taxes, motor fuel taxes are all delayed until September 30. As part of this, the province is delaying their planned carbon tax hike that was supposed to kick in on April 1.

Alberta – Today, Alberta announced an education property tax deferral for businesses for six months. WCB premiums can also be deferred for one year, and the government will now cover 50% of WCB premiums for small and medium sized businesses in the province. Previously Alberta has announced $60 million to support social service organizations, the Emergency Isolation Support program ($573 weekly for two weeks for those unemployed and ineligible for EI support), support for the energy industry by funding the AER industry levy for six months and extending oil and gas tenures, a six month moratorium on student loan repayment, and a 90-day utility bill deferral for residential, small business, and farm customers. The province made amendments to the Employment Standards Code to allow job-protected leave for those needing to self-isolate. Restaurants and bars can sell liquor without food as part of their takeout and delivery options since restaurant seating is now closed.

Saskatchewan – Saskatchewan is establishing a business response team led by the Minister of Finance and Minister of Trade and Export Development. The province has announced a three-month PST deferral for businesses. Similar to Alberta and Québec, Saskatchewan is also announcing Self-Isolation Support Program to provide $450 per week (for a maximum of two weeks) for those ineligible for federal supports.

Manitoba – Manitoba has allocated $27.6 million to help provide childcare to essential front-line workers. As was noted in the Budget introduced last week, Manitoba has $1 billion in financial flexibility should the situation require further emergency spending.

Ontario – Ontario has made key legislative changes: the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), which allows job-protected leave for employees in isolation or quarantine as a result of COVID-19. This is retroactive to late January (by comparison, Alberta and Saskatchewan are only retroactive to early March). The Municipal Emergency Act allows the delivery of goods to Ontario businesses to be unimpacted by municipal noise by-laws that would otherwise hinder delivery. The province has already announced $300 million in funding for health services as part of their COVID-19 response. The government is expected to announce further investments on March 25th with the Minister of Finance’s economic address.

Québec – The province is pushing the deadline for producing and filing income tax returns to June 1, 2020. Quebec will inject $2.5 billion into companies suffering liquidity problems due to the COVID-19 crisis through loans and loan guarantees. The province has established a Temporary Aid for Workers program that grants an eligible person $573 per week for a period of 14 days of isolation, if they are not covered by federal supports.

New Brunswick – To date, the province has focused on curbing further spread of COVID-19.

Prince Edward Island – Recent announcements by the province include a $2 million fund to support early learning centres and their staff, ensuring parents do not pay fees during the period of closures. They are suspending repayments for student loans for the next six months. PEI is deferring all scheduled loan payments for clients of Finance PEI, Island Investment Development Inc., and the PEI Century Fund for 3 months. The province is providing a temporary allowance of $200 per week for anyone who has experienced a significant drop in their working hours.

Nova Scotia – Nova Scotia is investing $161 million to address cash flow and access to credit for small and mid-size businesses. The government is deferring small business fees, including business renewal fees and workers compensation premiums until June 30.

Newfoundland and Labrador – To date, the province has focused on curbing further spread of COVID-19.

Yukon – Last week Yukon announced a stimulus package focused on supporting workers through a paid sick leave for COVID-19 related 14 day isolation, establishing a grant program to address expenses related to cancelled events, stimulating business and the tourism industry by waiving, reimbursing or delaying government fee collection, deferring Worker’s Compensation Health and Safety premium payments and support for the tourism industry through advertising.

Northwest Territories – The territorial government announced a $13.2 million economic package, including waiving supply chain costs. The NWT Business Development and Investment corporation will start offering low-interest loans to offset the economic hit. Payroll taxes and other collections are being paused.

Nunavut – To date, the territory has focused on curbing further spread of COVID-19.

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