COVID-19 New Federal Programs.


Employment Law Considerations in B.C.
Update on COVID-19

Written by Charlene Cleary
Charlene Cleary is the principal and founding lawyer of Westshore Law in Victoria. Serving clients on Vancouver Island and the mainland, she enjoys helping other business owners work through existing issues and also to help prevent future problems. www.westshorelaw.ca


New Federal Programs

1. Wage Subsidy for Employers:

  • To provide eligible small businesses a 10% wage subsidy for 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
  • Employers benefiting from this measure would include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as not-for-profit organizations and charities.
  • Good News: Apparently businesses will be able to access this benefit immediately from this program by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. More information on this program should be coming soon.

2. Emergency CARE Benefit

  • For workers who do not qualify for EI (including self-employed)
  • Who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits
  • Who are taking care of a sick family member who is sick with COVID-19
  • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closure and are unable to earn employment income irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.
  • Up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave
  • Application for this benefit will be available April 2020 and will require that Canadians attest that they meet the requirements. Applicants will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility.
  • Application for will be through various channels: CRA My Account, My Service Canada accounts or by calling a toll-free number equipped with an automated application process.
  • The eligibility indicates that you need to be quarantined with COVID 19 but of course, most people get the virus will not be tested. The point of the mandate from government is that if you are sick, you should quarantine yourself.
  • Sounds like this will be available to workers who do not qualify for EI due to a lack of insurable hours or people who are self-employed. We are waiting on more information.

3. Emergency SUPPORT benefit

  • For workers who do not qualify for EI (including self-employed)
  • For workers who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact
  • Will be delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)
  • Described as a longer-term income support for workers
  • Eligibility criteria not yet clear
  • Amounts to workers not yet explained although the pledged amount is currently $5.0 billion from the federal government
  • Sounds like this will be available to workers who do not qualify for EI due to a lack of insurable hours or people who are self-employed. We are waiting on more information.

4. Credit Access for Business and Payment Deferral:

  • A new Business Credit Availability Program will provide more than $10 billion dollars of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
  • Based on my discussions with various financial institutions it sounds like this benefit will be delivered through individual banks and supported by the BDC but will still be based on credit scoring and rated accordingly.

Useful Links

Here are two main links for federal government sites that we found useful:

Note and Disclaimer

We have compiled a summary the changes in the law, new programs and expansion to existing programs. Please refer to official government websites for precise details and application information (as it becomes available). This information sheet is only a summary of certain programs and does not list all available programs or issues surrounding COVID-19 and the workplace.

Nothing in this newsletter should be construed as legal advice – for specific advice or questions contact your employment lawyer.