COVID-19

FAQ for Businesses

Disclaimer: This page is a work in progress and will remain so during the COVID-19 crisis,
Valley REN Staff are committed to keeping each listing as up to date as possible.

How can I be sure if my business should be open or not?

Some businesses must close under the Provincial Health Protection Act order. Others can remain open if they meet certain requirements. Nova Scotia launched a COVID-19 employer assessment tool to help businesses determine what they need to do.

The provincial government has launched an employer assessment tool that allows employers to self-assess whether their business should remain open at this time.

https://covid19-employer-assessment.novascotia.ca/en

Where can I find access to additional credit/ access to capital for my business?

1. You may be eligible for the Small Business Impact Grant offered through the Province of Nova Scotia.

Benefit: Eligible small business can receive a grant of up to 15 per cent of their revenue from sales for either February 2020 or April 2019, at the option of the business owner, to a maximum of $5,000 per enterprise.

Additional Information: https://novascotia.ca/news/release/?id=20200402005

How to apply: The deadline for this benefit has passed.


2. You may be eligible to benefit from the Business Credit Availability Program, which was established to help Canadian Businesses obtain financing during the current period of significant uncertainty.

Benefit: Through this program, Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) will provide more than $10 billion in direct lending and other types of financial support at market rates to businesses with viable business models whose access to financing would otherwise be restricted.

Additional Information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/programs/financial-sector-policy/business-credit-availability-program.html

How to apply: Businesses interested in accessing the BCAP should first contact their financial institution, which will contact BDC and/or EDC where appropriate.


3. Small businesses will have access to government backed loans for under the Canada Emergency Business Account Program, with more details coming soon.

Benefit: The federal government will guarantee bank loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses, which will be interest-free for the first year. Under certain conditions, up to $10,000 of the loans could be non-repayable. To qualify, organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.

Additional Information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/additional-support-for-canadian-businesses-from-the-economic-impact-of-covid-19.html

How to apply: This program is now available at various financial institutions and credit unions. 


4. Export Development Canada (EDC) will offer New Loan Guarantees for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

Benefit: EDC will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans that financial institutions extend to Small and medium-sized enterprises - for loans of up to $6.25 million.

Additional Information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/additional-support-for-canadian-businesses-from-the-economic-impact-of-covid-19.html

How to apply: This program is now available at various financial institutions and credit unions.


5. The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is offering a new Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Sized Enterprises.

Benefit: The Co-Lending Program will bring the BDC together with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts up to $6.25 million.

Additional Information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/additional-support-for-canadian-businesses-from-the-economic-impact-of-covid-19.html

How to apply: Applications details will be made available in the days to come by financial institutions.


6. The Federal Government is increasing support for farmers, agriculture, and food industry by increasing the credit available through Farm Credit Canada.

Benefit: This will offer increased flexibility to farmers who face cash flow issues and to processors who are impacted by lost sales, helping them remain financially strong during this difficult time.

Additional Information: https://www.fcc-fac.ca/en/about-fcc/media-newsroom/news-releases/2020/lending-capacity-increases-to-alleviate-industry-financial-pressure.html

How to apply: https://www.fcc-fac.ca/en/covid-19/program-details.html

Can I defer payments on existing loans?

The Province of Nova Scotia announced a series of changes to payment options for Nova Scotian Businesses.

Benefits:

  • Government will defer payments until June 30 for all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.
  • Government will defer payments until June 30 for small business renewal fees, including business registration renewal fees and workers compensation premiums (a list of fees will be posted online early next week).
  • 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.

Additional Information: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/#support

How to apply: Speak with your payment contact to verify whether this happens automatically, or requires action on your behalf.

Can I defer mortgage or rent payments at this time?

Mortage:

Canadian banks have committed to work with their customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19, including mortgage deferrals.

Benefit: COVID-related mortgage deferral is available for an indefinite period and customers do not face a deadline for having to seek relief. They can approach their bank as the need arises.

Customers should understand that this is not mortgage forgiveness. Mortgage deferral means that payments are skipped for a defined period of time, during which interest which would otherwise be part of the deferred payments is added to the outstanding balance of the mortgage. The added interest is incorporated into the monthly payment, either when payments resume at the end of the deferral period or upon renewal at the end of the mortgage’s term.

Additional Information: https://cba.ca/mortgage-deferral-to-help-canadians-experiencing-financial-hardship-due-to-covid-19

How to apply: Canadians who are impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship as a result should contact their financial institution regarding flexibility for a mortgage deferral.


Rent: 

1. The Province of Nova Scotia has announced supports for businesses through the COVID-19 Small Business Rental Deferral Guarantee Program.

Benefit: Landlords that rent to Small and Medium-sized businesses are encouraged to defer rent payments from their commercial tenants for 3 months, spreading the deferred rent amount over the remainder of the lease term.

If you’re deferring rent because your tenant’s business is closed due to the Health Protection Act order, you could be eligible for coverage (up to a maximum of $50,000 per landlord and $15,000 per tenant) if you can’t recover the deferred rent.

Additional Information: The rent deferral agreement must be in place by April 1st, for the period of April 1st to June 30th, 2020. https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/COVID-19-Rent-Deferral-Support-Program-Guidelines.pdf

How to apply: Landlords must have registered with the Department of Business by April 3rd by emailing

2. **NEW as of May 25

Benefit: Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers forgivable loans to commercial property owners. Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May and June 2020.

All property owners in Atlantic Canada are asked to apply on Thursday, May 28. 

How to apply: Create an account here: https://cecra-apply.ca/account/login?ReturnUrl=%2F

Am I still expected to pay my power bill at this time?

Nova Scotia Power has announced that they are Providing Options and Payment Relief for Small Business Customers.

For at least the next 90 days (stated on March 23), Nova Scotia Power will not be disconnecting customers for nonpayment.

Nova Scotia Power is committed to being flexible, relaxing payment timelines, waiving penalties and fees on unpaid bills, and providing options to small business customers.

Additional Information: https://www.nspower.ca/about-us/safety/covid-19-response

How to apply: Contact Nova Scotia Power’s Customer Care team to discuss further. https://www.nspower.ca/customer-service

Am I still expected to pay taxes at this time?

1. Canada Revenue Agency has announced changes to tax-filing and payment deadlines.

The deadline for businesses to pay any income tax amounts that become owing or due after March 18, 2020 and before September 1, 2020 has been extended to September 1, 2020. This means you will not be assessed any penalties or interest if your balance due is paid by September 1, 2020.

Additional Information: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update.html#business

How to apply: You are automatically eligible to delay repayment until September 1, 2020.

You are encouraged to file your income tax and benefit return electronically and as early as possible before June 1, 2020 to make sure your benefits and credits are not interrupted.


2. On March 27, 2020, the Prime Minister announced that GST and HST payments, as well as duties and taxes owed on imports, will be deferred until June. The federal government is calling this the equivalent of an interest-free loan on tax payments until June 2020.

Additional Information: https://www.cbc.ca/news/politics/trudeau-covid19-mar27-business-1.5512151

How to apply: Details expected soon.

What supports are available to help me pay employees?

1. You may be eligible for the Small Business Temporary Wage Subsidy offered through Canada Revenue Agency

Benefit: The subsidy is equal to 10% of remuneration you pay between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020, up to $1,375 per employee and to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer.

Additional Information: Subsidy immediately obtained through the reduction of remittances of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax that you would normally send to the Canada Revenue Agency.

As of April 2nd, for employers that are eligible for both the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the 10 per cent wage subsidy for a period, any benefit from the 10 per cent wage subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period would generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy in that same period.

https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/frequently-asked-questions-wage-subsidy-small-businesses.html

How to apply: By reducing remittances of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax in the first remittance period that includes remuneration paid between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020.


2. The Work-Sharing Adjustment Program is designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer.

Benefit: The measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers.

Additional Information: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing.html

https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing/temporary-measures-forestry-sector.html

How to apply: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing/guide-applicant.html

Submit completed applications to: ESDC.TP-ATL-WS-TP.EDSC@servicecanada.gc.ca


3. On March 27th, 2020, the federal government announced an upcoming 75% wage subsidy called the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy designed to help employers avoid layoffs, and even hire back those who already have been laid off.

Benefit: The subsidy will cover up to 75% of employees wages, up to a total of $58,700 worth of salary - maximum weekly amount of the subsidy is $847 per week.

Additional Information: The subsidy will be available to any business, as well as charities and not-for-profits who have suffered at least a 30% decline in revenue due to the pandemic to be eligible.

Subsidy is retroactive to March 15, 2020, and planned to end June 6, 2020 (12 weeks).

An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees.

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/wage-subsidy.html

How to apply: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy.html

Employers have to keep records demonstrating their reduction in arm’s-length revenues and remuneration paid to employees.


3. Payroll Canada has put together a document with FAQ surrounding ROE, layoffs and EI benefits. https://payroll.ca/PDF/Resources/Payroll-and-Covid19-Infoline.aspx

My business employs temporary foreign workers, how will they be affected?

The Government of Canada has updated regulations surrounding the employment of temporary foreign workers, which can be seen here: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/foreign-workers/employer-compliance/covid-guidance.html.

What is available to me if I am self-employed and not eligible for EI?

1. You may qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, regardless of whether you qualify for Employment Insurance.

Benefit: A taxable benefit of $2,000/month for up to 4 months.

Additional Information: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/introduces-canada-emergency-response-benefit-to-help-workers-and-businesses.html

How to apply: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/benefits/ei/cerb-application.html. Applicants are also able to apply via telephone at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041.

Please note you will need access to your CRA account if applying online, or your SIN and postal code if applying over the phone.


2. You may be eligible for the Worker Emergency Bridge Fund offered through the Province of Nova Scotia.

Benefit: Nova Scotians laid off or out of work on or after March 16, 2020 due to Covid-19, and ineligible for Employment Insurance, are eligible for a one-time, $1,000 payment to help them meet their basic needs

Additional Information: https://novascotia.ca/coronavirus/worker-emergency-bridge-fund/#how-to-apply

How to apply: Gather the supporting documentation you need for your application. Call 1-800-863-6582 to speak with a Canadian Red Cross agent. Agents are available 7 days a week (including holidays), 8am to 8pm.

How do I prepare contingency plans for my workplace to manage potential risk?

1. The Public Health Agency of Canada has developed a toolkit to provide guidance on cleaning and disinfecting of public settings, including schools, universities, public libraries, museums, public transit, communal residences and workplaces.

https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/publications/diseases-conditions/cleaning-disinfecting-public-spaces.html


2. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has created a guide to help businesses prepare for, and manage through, a potential COVID-19 escalation in Canada.

http://www.chamber.ca/resources/pandemic-preparedness/BusinessPrepGuidePanPrep2020


3. The Business Development Bank of Canada has created a toolkit of templates to help businesses minimize the risk that an emergency poses to operations and bottom line.

https://www.bdc.ca/en/articles-tools/entrepreneur-toolkit/templates-business-guides/pages/business-continuity-guide-templates-entrepreneurs.aspx


4. The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses has compiled a list of frequently asked questions to help small business owners prepare for a potential crisis.

https://www.cfib-fcei.ca/en/tools-resources/covid-19-coronavirus-business


5. The World Health Organization has created a guide to getting your workplace ready for COVID-19 with tips on preventing the spread and managing risks when organizing meetings and events.

https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf?sfvrsn=359a81e7_6


6. The Government of Canada has compiled many helpful resources to help Canadian businesses at this time.

https://www.canada.ca/en/services/business/maintaingrowimprovebusiness/resources-for-canadian-businesses.html


7. The Government of Canada has announced and compiled many supports for Canadian businesses.

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/canadas-covid-19-economic-response-plan-support-for-canadians-and-businesses.html#Support_for_Businesses


8. Nova Scotia Works Centres are very much operational and available to provide services employers through virtual platforms.

https://documentcloud.adobe.com/link/track?uri=urn%3Aaaid%3Ascds%3AUS%3A078bbaf2-afe1-4752-9a20-45485bea6bc0

What other resources are available?

1. Nova Scotia Business Inc has updated the Small Business Development Program to serve Nova Scotia businesses better. 

2. Construction Association of Nova Scotia is sharing updates relevant to the construction industry. 

3. Export Development Canada is helping exporters during COVID-19

4. Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency is available to support small or medium sized businesses impacted by the sudden shifts in the economy who are looking for advice regarding the federal programs and services available. 

5. Over the past year, eBay has worked with a number of businesses in Nova Scotia on a program called Retail Revival. eBay has tools and information to help retailers get their products online to reach new domestic and export clients.

6. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has created the Canadian Business Resilience Network which brings together the latest tools, info and resources to help businesses make it through this time. #BIZRESILIENCE

7. The Ulnooweg Development Group announced two measures to help support Aboriginal businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The measures include payment deferrals and interest relief on loans between April 1 and June 30, 2020, as well as a one-time grant of up to $5,000 for consulting services to help entrepreneurs access and apply for federal and provincial COVID-19 business support programs.

8. Canada's Work-Sharing Program helps employers avoid layoffs by providing EI benefits to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work during this time.

9. Try this interactive tool from The Government of Canada to identify which benefits and programs can help your business: https://innovation.ised-isde.canada.ca/s/group-groupe?language=en_CA&token=a0B5W000000CdU8UAK

10. Nova Scotia Business Inc has created a Consultant Directory to help you find the skills and expertise your company needs during COVID-19.

11. On May 5th, The Government of Canada announced a $252 million aid package to help farmers and food processors safely navigate the pandemic. The money will be used to buy personal protective equipment for workers, adapt to new health protocols and support social distancing measures.

12. The Business Resilience Service (BRS) connects you with experienced business advisors across Canada for guidance on which programs are most appropriate to support your business, nonprofit or charity.

Are there any incentives to hire students?

Considering Hiring a Student in 2020? 

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many post-secondary students in Nova Scotia are struggling to find work term placements for summer 2020. 
 
To create more opportunities for both struggling employers and students, this summer your business could receive up to 100% in funding to cover the costs of a co-op or work integrated learning student.  

significant adaption to funding policy, is the ability to now combine or “stack” federal and provincial funding opportunities (as long as the total des not exceed 100%), and there are numerous funding venues to help cover the costs 
 
The federal Student Work Placement Program and the provincial Co-operative Education Incentive program are working together to allow employers to stack both funding resources: 

 

Student Work Placement Program 

The Student Work Placement Program gives post-secondary students across Canada paid work experience related to their field of study. The program’s student wage subsidies help knock down that cost barrier, by covering the cost of a student’s work term salary by 50% up to a maximum of $5,000 and 70% up to a maximum of $7,000, and due to COVID-19, they have recently modified their criteria to support employers hiring. 

  • Small and medium-sized employers (who have fewer than 500 employees) and non-profit organizations will be able to use wage subsidies up-front when there is an operational cash flow need. 
  • Post-secondary institutions (universities, colleges, and polytechnics) will be able to be the employers of record to offer meaningful placements to students.  
  • Employers will have the flexibility to postpone placement start dates to avoid rescinding placements or, if needed, reduce the duration of the placements due to the current COVID-19 situation. 
  • Employers will be able to apply for funding before they finalize their selection of students to hire. 
  • Students will be able to work from home. 

 

Provincial Co-op Education Incentive 

The Co-op Education Incentive helps employers hire post-secondary co-operative education students for work placements across Nova Scotia. The program allows organizations to hire a student for a work term of 12-16 weeks, and receive a subsidy of $7.50 an hour ($9.00 if the student is a member of designated diversity group). Due to COVID-19, this program has also implemented some positive changes to support employers: 

  • Cash Advance:  If employers are able to provide a great work experience for a co-op student but are experiencing cashflow challenges, they may be eligible for an advance of 60% of the Co-op Education Incentive (CEI) subsidy at the beginning of the term, when the student starts work. 
  • Timing Flexibility: More flexible in terms of work placement duration, start and end dates.  If the timing and work experience changes (for example, the student will work from home or on project-oriented work) and employers have confirmed that this is acceptable with the university or NSCC, then they can receive funding. 

 

Incentive “Stacking”:  The CEI also currently allow the combining of CEI funds with other wage subsidy programs such as the Student Work Placement Project which is normally not an option. These partners allow NSLAE co-op funds to be stacked with their programs.

Here is a full list of those SWPP partners: 

35 Webster Street, Suite 102, Kentville, Nova Scotia B4N 1H4
Phone: 902 678 2200
E-mail: info@valleyren.ca

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