Tips for Small Businesses in Nova Scotia to help overcome the effects of COVID-19

MARCH 27th SPECIAL EDITION: COVID-19 | REAL ESTATE OWNERS, SMALL BUSINESSES & CONSTRUCTION

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MARCH 22nd SPECIAL EDITION: COVID-19 |WHAT BUSINESSES NEED TO KNOW

In one week because of COVID-19 our Province and world has experienced unprecedented events. Our community is struggling, especially our small businesses.  With the government making announcements daily to offer support we want to simplify how our community can access this support. 

Revenue VS Expenses
Review your finances, look at your revenue vs expenses, are you able to meet your basic expenses?  Discuss this with your accountant or bookkeeper if you need.

Make a Plan
Are you able to service your clients with so many other businesses closing, are you able to find other suppliers if your regular one is not functioning now?  Explore options that might help you enable to keep your doors open.

Your Commercial Insurance Provider
Depending on your coverage, you may be entitled to business interruption insurance payments.  Call your provider to check your entitlement. 

As part of the Economic Response Plan, Small Businesses can find support through the following ways:

Work Sharing Program
The Work Sharing Program is developed as an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the level of normal business activity that is beyond the control of the employer.  This is a three party agreement in which the employer, employee and government must agree too. 

More information and application are here.

TEMPORARY BUSINESS WAGE SUBSIDY
Temporary Business Wage Subsidy began on March 18th, 2020 and in effect until June.  Employers do not need to apply for this, it is administered as a “discount” on your source deductions from your payroll (taxes, EI and CPP).  The employer will pay the employee as per regular and when they send remittance to CRA they will not pay the “discount”.  There is no application for this, employers can do it automatically and will be reconciled through T4’s/year end.  

Eligibility for this particular TBWS are for those incorporations of small businesses, non profit organizations and registered charity organizations.

For more information on specifics, eligibility and logistics please view here.

SMALL BUSINESS LOAN GUARANTEE PROGRAM  
Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through credit unions, include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30, enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000, and for those who might not qualify for a loan, government will guarantee the first $100,000.  You should check with your business banking institute to see if they will offer the same program as many banks have implemented programs to support small businesses during this difficult time.

EMERGENCY CARE BENEFIT & EMERGENCY SUPPORT BENEFIT
If you did not pay into employment insurance benefits last year, or if you didn’t work more than 600 hours, you can apply for the emergency care benefit (including owners). The government hopes to have applications open by early April and you will be able to apply with your Canada Revenue Agency account online. There will also be a toll-free number when applications open. This will provide you with 15 weeks of payments of up to $450 per week.

These two programs also apply if you are caring for someone who is sick. You can receive employment insurance benefits if you paid into EI last year and worked 600 hours or you can apply for the emergency care benefit if you didn’t. If you are applying for EI you will need a record of employment from your employer. You won’t need a doctor’s note for any of these benefits.

The emergency support benefit will be available to people who lose their job or see a reduction in hours as a result of the downturn but don’t qualify for employment insurance (such as owners).  More details about that should be available soon. To prepare to apply, make sure you have an account with the CRA online.

More information on these can be found here.

RECORD OF EMPLOYMENT GUIDANCE
As many small businesses have had no choice but to temporarily let go their employees, there is now Employment Insurance that the employee may apply for specific to the effects of COVID-19. Direct them to go to this link to apply for their EI, further directions are there for their information.

When employees are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not working, an ROE must be issued.  For Box 16- Reason for Separation, please use the following codes but do not include comments:

  • Employee is sick or quarantined: Code D (illness or injury)
  • Employee stops working due to shortage of work or shutdown due to COVID-19: Code A (shortage of work)
  • Employee is not sick or quarantined but not working due to other reasons related to COVID-19: Code E (quit) or Code N (leave of absence)

Add comments only when required.  Doing so causes the ROE to be pulled from the automatic processing queue for review by an agent, slowing down the process.

MORTGAGE DEFAULT
This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.  Customers are being asked to reach out to their banks to see what assistance is there for them.  Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. says it is permitting lenders to allow deferred mortgage payments on loans the Crown corporation insures against borrowed default.  This is also developed to help those who are unable to make their rent payment on time because of the COVID-19 disruption, it will allow the building owner to receive a payment deferral in direct effect to the renter/lea-see.

For information on the COVID-19 pandemic and how our government is offering support you can find more information in the following links:

Service Canada Benefits and Services
LINK


Canada Revenue Agency
Including Tax Filing new dates and updates daily to any necessary information 
LINK

Economic Support Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses
LINK


Public Health Agency of Canada
LINK


Maintaining your Business
LINK


RESTAURANTS CANADA – Employment Webinar
As the Canadian foodservice and hospitality industry navigates these challenging times in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, many owners, operators and employees alike have questions about employment and human resource concerns.  During this webinar, an expert will speak twosome of the most pressing issues including:

  • An overview of new benefits offered by the Government
  • Employer and employee responsibility during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Ensuring compliance with best HR practices 

Upcoming webinar, Monday, March 23, 2-3 pm.  Register HERE.

If you are a Canadian manufacturer or business that can assist Canada in meeting the need for medical supplies, your help is needed! 
MORE INFO HERE

The effects of practicing social distancing will help flatten the curve! We will see a rise in those affected by COVID-19, but if we actively participate in the Public Health Authorities prevention plan we will overcome this. More information from Public Health can be found here.

Remember to take the self assessment test if you are experiencing symptoms before calling 811 for further direction.

If you travelled outside of our country recently or are just returning, please adhere to the 14 days of self isolation.

Let’s work together, stay healthy and safe!