COVID-19 Updates

COVID-19 Updates

Important Messages for our Members



Information is current as of date posted in announcement. Although we strive to provide accurate, relevant and timely information, there is no guarantee that the information will continue to be accurate in the future. Government programs, and other programs available to small businesses, can change daily. The information we provide you through this website is for educational and informational purposes only. For advice that pertains to your unique business situation, please get in touch with us at 1.800.265.1002 or email at [email protected]



FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESS

March 27, 2020


SUPPORT FOR CANADIAN BUSINESSES:  


The government’s measures for business are clearly still taking shape and more detail is expected in the days to come. Nonetheless, the government has outlined in broad strokes how it intends to approach the task of helping large enterprises as well as SMEs. 


We’ve reviewed the federal support programs on behalf of our Members and have provided a summary below. 


SUPPORT FOR SMALL BUSINESSES


The government has established the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), which will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Corporation (EDC) to provide $10 billion of additional support. Both organizations are working with private sector lenders to improve access to financing for SMEs. This includes finding solutions for dependable business clients who would otherwise have insufficient access to credit. And ensuring the extension of credit is an increase for Canadian businesses and doesn’t displace or substitute private credit.


The near-term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada. [ Details on the Farm Credit Program can be found here]


In addition, to help small businesses avoid layoffs the government will provide eligible employers with a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 75% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. This appears to be targeted to organizations of a smaller scale (i.e., those eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities). The process is being expedited by allowing these enterprises to reduce their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. [ Details on the Temporary Wage Subsidy can be found here ]


Prime Minister Trudeau announced the government will also be offering a new Canada Emergency Business Account to provide loans of up to $40,000 to SMEs that will be interest-free for one year.


SUPPORTING CANADIAN BUSINESS THROUGH THE CANADA ACCOUNT:


Minister Morneau signalled the government’s intention to draw down on the “Canada Account” that has been historically used to extend financial support to large enterprises on non-commercial terms through EDC (when these kinds of supports align with the national interest). The Minister of Finance is being given the authority to increase the limit of the Canada Account in order to allow the government to provide additional support to Canadian companies through loans, guarantees or insurance policies. We should anticipate the Canada Account to become an integral vehicle for extending this kind of direct government support to large enterprises.


The Minister also mentioned sectors such as oil and gas, air transport and tourism during his press conference. The government’s backgrounder indicates that BDC and EDC will be working with private sector lenders to coordinate credit for individual businesses in some of the most distressed sectors. These measures may include also using the BCAP to supplement private sector lending. 


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CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB) ELIGIBILITY AND APPLICATION PROCEDURES

March 26, 2020


Yesterday we alerted all FBC Members that the federal government had introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) to support workers and help businesses keep their employees. We now have more detail about eligibility criteria and application procedures. 


WHAT IS THE CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB)?


CERB is a taxable benefit that provides $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.


Note: The CERB would replace the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.


WHO QUALIFIES?


The CERB would cover Canadians who, as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak have:

  • lost their job,
  • are sick,
  • are quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
  • or are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. 

Applicants must have had $5,000 in employment income, self-employment income, or maternity or parental leave benefits for 2019 or in the 12-month period preceding the day they make the application.


The benefit is also available to workers who are still employed but not receiving income because of COVID-19 related disruptions. That means, as a small business owner you may be able to hold on to your employees during the outbreak, while ensuring you are able to resume normal operations as soon as it is possible.


The CERB would apply to:


  • wage earners;
  • contract workers and
  • self-employed individuals

who, under normal circumstances, would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).


HOW TO APPLY?


The CRA is administering this program.  Applications will be completed and submitted through an on-line portal which will be available in early April. Specific application details and links to the portal have not been released.


WHEN IS THE CERB PAID?


Canadians will begin receiving their CERB payments within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.


WHAT ABOUT REGULAR EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE (EI)?


EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.


EI COORDINATION WITH CERB


The EI system was not designed to process the unprecedented high volume of applications received in these past weeks.


As a result, all Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are EI-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support they need.


Note: Canadians who are already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB.


If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020, they could apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease, if they are unable to return to work due to COVID-19.


Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply.

Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.


AUDIT


If the federal government determines that someone received an income support payment for which they did not qualify, they will be required to repay that amount as soon as they can.


The repayment amount will be determined by the government. No interest payments would be charged on the amount owed.


IF YOU HAVE QUESTIONS


We expect additional details about CERB will be announced in the coming days. We will provide updates as more information is available. In the meantime, if you have questions about CERB or other federal, provincial or municipal assistance programs implemented in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, please call us. We’ll do everything we can to help you and your business navigate through these turbulent times.


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CANADA REVENUE AGENCY - COLLECTIONS, AUDITS, AND APPEALS


On March 18th, the Federal Government announced a temporary suspension to audit interaction and debt collection in certain cases to help Canadians coping with the COVID-19 outbreak.


This announcement may impact you if you have:


1. RECEIVED AN AUDIT NOTICE


  • No new audits for the next four weeks. Auditors will not contact small or medium businesses (or their representatives) to initiate new post assessment audits in the next 4 weeks.

2. AN AUDIT ALREADY IN PROGRESS


  • Audits in progress will be suspended for most taxpayers.

3. AN OUTSTANDING BALANCE


  • If you have an outstanding debt you don’t need to worry about collection activities until further notice. Going forward flexible payment options will available to help manage payments.

4. PENALTIES AND INTEREST ON BALANCES OWED


  • Penalties and interest on balances owing may be waived. If you have balance with the CRA, you may be able to minimize interest and penalties by can submitting a request to have them waived if you can’t make a payment because of circumstances beyond your control.

5. FILED OBJECTION OR APPEAL


  • If you have filed an objection or appeal regarding a benefit or credit (or if we have filed it on your behalf), it will be processed as usual. There should be no delay in processing these objections. However, processing of objections or appeals related to other tax matters will be suspended until further notice.

Call us at 1.800.265.1002 if you have questions about these changes or any interaction with the CRA. Audit Representation Insurance is a major benefit of FBC Membership.


As your designated representative, we’re working on your behalf so that you don’t need to worry about the CRA or keeping up with all the changes.



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TEMPORARY WAGE SUBSIDY

March 26, 2020


PLEASE REFER TO MARCH 27th UPDATE FOR DETAILS ON EXPANDED PROGRAM

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Small businesses across the country are being hit hard by the COVID-19 outbreak. Every day, federal, provincial and municipal governments are announcing new programs and benefits designed to assist Canadian employers and workers as we navigate through troubled and uncharted waters.


FBC Corporate Members should be accessing the Wage Subsidy program that reduces the amount of payroll deductions some employers are required to remit to the CRA for the next three months.


WHAT IS THE TEMPORARY WAGE SUBSIDY?


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


DOES MY BUSINESS QUALIFY?


You may qualify based on the following criteria:


  • Are non-profit organizations, registered charities or Canadian-controlled private corporations
  • Have a business number and payroll program account with the CRA as of March 18, 2020
  • Pay salary, wages, bonuses or other remuneration to employees
  • Private companies are eligible if their taxable capital is less than $15 million for the preceding tax year.
  • If the business is closed or will not pay salary, wages, bonuses or other remuneration to employees between March 18 and June 20, 2020, your business cannot receive the benefit.

HOW MUCH IS THE SUBSIDY?


The wage subsidy is equal to 10% of the remuneration you pay between March 18, 2020 and June 20, 2020 up to $1,375 per employee to a maximum of $25,000 per employer. To calculate the maximum subsidy, multiply the number of employees by $1,375. If you have 5 employees, 5 x $1,375 = $6,875.


HOW DOES THE TEMPORARY WAGE SUBSIDY WORK?


You won’t receive a cheque from the government. The subsidy reduces the amount of tax you remit to the government in payroll deductions.


HOW DO I CALCULATE THE SUBSIDY?


The calculation is relatively simple. Multiply the total number of employees by their monthly salaries and deduct 10%. For example, if you have 3 employees each earning $4,000 per month for a total monthly payroll of $12,000, your deduction would be (3 x $4,000) × .10 = $1,200.


You would deduct $1,200 from your regular payroll remittance to the CRA.


HOW TO APPLY


No application is required. Include the reduce amount in your regular remittance.


Note: You can't reduce remittance of Canada Pension Plan contributions or Employment Insurance premiums.


KEEP YOUR RECORDS


Employers are responsible for calculating the subsidy and must keep relevant information to support your calculation. This includes:


  • Total remuneration paid between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020
  • Federal, provincial, or territorial income tax deducted from the remuneration
  • Number of employees paid in that period.

If you have questions about the Temporary Wage Subsidy program and its implications for you and your business, please call us at 1.800.265.1002.


Unlimited consultation related to tax matters is a key benefit of your FBC Membership. We’ll do everything we can to help answer your questions about this and other assistance programs.


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FEDERAL GOVERNMENT UPDATES EI SUPPORT BENEFIT

March 25, 2020


COVID-19: Federal government updates EI support benefit



Impacted Canadians will receive $2,000 a month in federal support


Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on Wednesday that the House of Commons has passed an emergency bill, which is now before the Senate, for the government’s COVID-19 emergency response.


The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit will replace the Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit announced last week. Trudeau said the benefits were combined to streamline the process.


“We will adapt our approach wherever needed,” Trudeau said.


The government will provide $2,000 a month for the next four months to people who are not working due to COVID-19, regardless of whether they are unwell. The benefit will also support Canadians who are sick, in quarantine, or are looking after a family member or child.


An online portal will be available to submit applications. People will start to receive money within 10 days of applying. The hope is that this system will be running by April 6th, the prime minister said.


About one million people have applied for EI, with 143,000 claims processed to date. The federal government has boosted the team that processes claims by 13,000 people.


“We recognize that this is an unprecedented situation with an overwhelming amount of demand,” Trudeau said.


The government’s response needs to be reliable and quick, he added.


FBC will provide an update regarding eligibility and application procedures as details come available.


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FBC'S CONTINUED RESPONSE TO THE COVID-19 CRISIS


March 24, 2020


As the coronavirus (COVID-19) situation continues to evolve, so does our response. Since this unprecedented event began, we’ve had many conversations with FBC Members and staff. We know how deeply some of you are affected. Many of you are having to temporarily close your business, lay off staff, or take other extraordinary measures. Others are postponing travels, watching their savings take a significant hit, or tending to a family member who has fallen ill. There’s a whole lot of uncertainty in the world right now.

I wanted to provide another update on what we are doing, under these strange and extraordinary circumstances, to ensure that we continue to meet your tax and accounting needs while prioritizing the safety and security of all our Members and employees.

We recognize that stopping the spread of the COVID-19 virus is up to all of us. We are committed to doing our part. We are also committed to you. While our top priority is the health and well-being of our Members and our staff, rest assured that our team will continue to work on your behalf so that you don’t have to worry about your accounting and tax preparation. That’s why we’re here.


Virtual Tax Calls


To continue serving our Members and minimize the risk of infection to your household or our staff, we are pleased to announce that effective immediately, FBC appointments can be completed via a virtual meeting platform. We’ll still be face to face, as you’ve come to expect from FBC, but now there will be a little more distance between us. We recommend you try the virtual appointment option. I am sure you will find it works great. If you would like to complete your tax call virtually, please contact your local branch for details.


Field Appointments


If a virtual tax call is not possible, we will do our best to conduct on-site appointments where permitted. It is imperative that no one in your household is experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 infection, self-isolating or had contact with someone who is ill. We ask that if you or a family member is ill, or self-isolating, please call us. We’d be happy to reschedule your appointment or meet with you virtually.

You can be assured our staff will follow rigorous standards of personal hygiene and social distancing as directed by Health Canada. If they are ill (or need to self-isolate) they will stay home and follow the direction of the health authorities. We appreciate your understanding if we have to reschedule the appointment.


Office Closures


To protect our amazing staff most have moved to working from home so for the short term we have closed our offices to visitors. Thankfully, we come to you so this will not impact our ability to serve you. If you do need to drop something off to us, we ask that you use the FBC Tax Advantage mobile App to upload and deliver documents directly to us.


We're here for you 24/7 through FBC Tax Advantage Mobile App


One more way to get great service and connect with us from the comfort of your home is through our mobile app, FBC Tax Advantage. With it, you can send us documents and slips, receive notifications, view your products, sign documents and return them to us simply, efficiently, and securely – any time from anywhere. Tax Advantage is part of our commitment to you, ensuring we can meet your needs as effectively and securely online as we can in the office. Call your branch for instructions on how to download and register Tax Advantage to your phone or mobile device.


Standing by to help


We have moved the majority of the Member Support Team out of the office. Even though we may not be in the office, through the magic of technology, we are still available by phone. We can help you navigate the new regulations and programs that are being announced almost daily, if you have questions we are here, please call.


What you need to know


As new Government programs are being announced you can count on us to sift through the details to get the facts on each program. Now more than ever, it’s important to have all the facts. When news breaks, we’ll send you an email with the details.  All updates are also available at fbc.ca. If you’re looking for answers, don’t hesitate to call. Just know that the FBC team is here for you.


We stand strong and ready—together


FBC will continue to be here for our employees and customers, throughout this turbulent time and the inevitable recovery. FBC is a key part of your team and we stand by your side to get through this. The actions we take today will make us stronger tomorrow, I'm sure of it. Be safe. Stay well.


Sincerely,


Steven J. Ibbotson, President
FBC Farm Business Consultants


P.S.

If I may offer a few words of advice in this chaotic time: check in with friends near and far who may be in need. Be kind to strangers and offer a listening ear or a helping hand when appropriate. Find new and creative ways to support your local businesses. This pandemic will finish. Our great nation will adapt and overcome.


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EMPLOYMENT INSURANCE AND BENEFITS UPDATES


March 20, 2020


On March 18th, the federal government announced a new program extending Employment Insurance sickness benefits to Canadian workers coping with the severe economic impact of the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition, the standard one-week waiting period for EI eligibility has been waived.

As employers and small business owners, FBC Members may be asked by their employees for details about the benefits available and the application process. To help you help your employees, we’ve put together a brief description of the program, eligibility requirements, and application process. For additional details please review the official Government of Canada website.

Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits

Canadians quarantined due to COVID-19 are eligible to apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits, which provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement. Benefits are available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine.

Employees could receive 55% of their earnings up to a maximum of $573 a week.

Because of the situation with COVID-19, the government is offering the following support:

  • Waiving the 1-week waiting period to claim Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020.
  • Priority processing EI sickness claims for people under quarantine.
  • Waiving the medical certificate requirement to access EI sickness benefits.
  • Canadians who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay.
  • Opening a dedicated toll-free phone number to respond to enquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period.

Accessing the EI Sickness Benefits

Employers should advise their employees of the following:

1. Complete the online application form: online application form (note the medical certificate requirement has been waived).

2. To complete the form, employees will need the following information:

  • The names, addresses and telephone numbers of all employers you worked for in the last 52 weeks, as well as the dates of employment and the reasons for separation from these employers
  • A detailed explanation of the facts if they quit or were dismissed from any job in the last 52 weeks
  • Full mailing address and home address, if they are different
  • Social insurance number (SIN)
  • Mother's maiden name
  • Banking information, including financial institution, branch (transit) number and your account number, to sign up for direct deposit

The online application takes about an hour to complete.

Documentation

The requirement for a medical certificate has been waived, however, employees will need a copy of their Record of Employment.

Canadians who have already completed the application for EI sickness benefits, whether they are sick or quarantined, and want the one-week waiting period waived, should call the new toll-free phone number listed below. Note: no other request will be actioned on this phone line. Action will be taken only for sick or quarantined clients affected by the COVID-19 for which the application for sickness benefits has been filed:

  • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
  • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

Employees should also be aware that due to the COVID-19 outbreak Service Canada is currently receiving a high number of EI applications. If you are unable to access the system, or if you receive an error message, try again later. Service Canada is aware of the issue and working to resolve it.

Emergency Care Benefit - Applications Opening in April

Note: this is a separate benefit from EI sickness benefits for people who wouldn’t ordinarily qualify for employment insurance benefits.

For workers who must stay home and don't have access to paid sick leave, the government has introduced an Emergency Care Benefit.

Applications for the benefit will be open in April 2020. Canadians must attest they meet the eligibility requirements and re-attest every 2 weeks.

Workers could receive up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks.

The CRA will administer the flat-payment benefit and provide support to:

  • Self-employed individuals who are sick, quarantined or have been directed to self-isolate but don't qualify for EI sickness benefits
  • Self-employed individuals who are taking care of a family member sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent or dependents, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits
  • Working parents who must stay home without pay because of sick children or who need care because of school closures, whether they qualify for EI or not

Canadians will be able to apply for the benefit through:

  • CRA MyAccount
  • My Service Canada account
  • By calling a toll-free number

There will also be an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. Applications will also open in April. No further details were released.

FBC will provide more details when applications are open.


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KEEPING OUR MEMBERS AND EMPLOYEES SAFE


March 19, 2020


The COVID-19 outbreak has required many changes to our daily lives. At FBC, our first priority is the health and safety of our employees and the Members we serve. Despite the challenge facing all of us, our teams remain committed to ensuring that all Members can file their tax returns on time.

Staying Healthy, Keeping our Members and Staff Safe

If you have already scheduled an appointment with your local tax consultant and you and your family are healthy, with no symptoms of or exposure to illness, we ask that you keep the appointment at the scheduled time. If, however, that is not the case and you suspect you have been exposed or are self-isolating, please call us to reschedule. 

Prior to meeting with you, please understand we call to confirm that you and your family are in good health. We hope you won’t consider us rude if we don’t shake your hand. Please know that we are glad to see you and very much appreciate the opportunity to work with you. Also know that while we meet with you, we will do our best to maintain a safe distance - we want to protect your health and well-being as well as that of all our staff.

Working from Home So Please Call Ahead

To support the global efforts to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus, FBC, like many Canadian businesses, has staff members set up to work from their homes. We are confident that the systems and practices we have in place will ensure that employees remain safe, while continuing their work on behalf of our Members. 

With the majority of our people working from home, we will have skeleton staff at our offices during regular business hours. If you need to visit an office for whatever reason, please call ahead, so that we can be ready for your arrival.

Need to Drop Something Off? There’s an App for That.

If you have something you need to get to us for your tax file, please use FBC Tax Advantage instead. Our mobile app allows you to track the progress of your tax return, upload slips directly to your FBC file, and send, receive, sign and share tax-related documents. Download it from your app store, then call your local office and we’ll help you get set up. Once you’ve registered Tax Advantage on your phone, scanning, uploading, and sharing documents is a snap. Not only is it fast and secure, Tax Advantage let you send and receive documents anytime from anywhere.

Government of Canada Extends the Tax Deadline

The federal government has extended the deadline for filing tax returns. This extension may be a real benefit to Canada’s small business owners who are hit hardest by the economic impact of the coronavirus. However, given the uncertainty of what may happen between now and the new deadline, we are strongly advising our Members to get their taxes filed as soon as possible. Filing before the deadlines gets your refund or GST/HST credit into your bank account faster. If you and your family are healthy, showing none of the coronavirus symptoms, and are not in self-isolation because of exposure to the virus, please call to make your appointment as soon as possible.


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A MESSAGE FROM STEVEN J. IBBOTSON, PRESIDENT OF FBC


March 16, 2020

With growing global concerns around COVID-19 (“coronavirus”), I wanted to let you know how FBC is responding and to reaffirm our commitment to you and the entire FBC family. The health, safety and well-being of all FBC Members and employees is our top priority. We are following the lead of Canadian public health authorities at this important time.


For Members who have a tax appointment or visit scheduled with one of our staff over the next few weeks and months: know that we remain committed to completing these visits. That means, our teams across the country will continue working exceptionally hard through the coming weeks to ensure that you are able to meet the filing deadline.


Know that we are doing our part by implementing employment policies and processes that align with the recommendations of the health authorities. To prevent infection, we are encouraging all staff to follow the guidelines provided by the Public Health Agency of Canada: washing their hands frequently, coughing or sneezing into a tissue or the bend of their arm, avoid touching their eyes, nose, or mouth, and regularly sanitizing their personal work spaces including computers, phones and desks.


Employees who have travelled out of country in the last 14 days, who have been in contact with someone who has travelled out of country, or exhibit symptoms related to coronavirus will stay home and immediately self-isolate as recommended by the medical community. Under these circumstances, it may be necessary to reschedule tax appointments with our Members. If that happens, we appreciate your understanding, patience, and flexibility.


We also ask that if you, or anyone you have been in contact with has travelled out of country in the past 14 days or has symptoms related to coronavirus, please let us know so that we can reschedule an upcoming visit. We will do everything we can to accommodate a change. Our intent is to protect you, your family, and ours.


Again, we continue to monitor this situation closely and will provide ongoing updates as needed. We also encourage our Members to stay up-to-date through Canada's Public Health Website


For nearly 70 years, FBC has been providing tax preparation and other support services to Canadian farmers and small business owners. We take great pride in the relationships we have built with our Members and the trust they place in us to help them effectively manage their businesses. Earning and keeping that trust is our first priority.



Steven J. Ibbotson,
President,
FBC Farm Business Consultants


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