Expanded Eligibility for CEBA, and Other Updates

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This is a very important update, especially for small business owners.  You should be aware of the details below, even if you do not qualify for aid at this point.

Everything continues to change, which means the government is continuing to listen to concerns they hear, and are willing to make necessary adjustments.  We hope this continues, because many affected individuals and businesses still “slip through the cracks”.

Before we get to the small business updates, there are very important changes to CERB which affect employees who are currently out of work, or who will shortly be in that situation.

CERB Enhancements

The CERB is a program available to workers (both employees and self-employed individuals and partners) who:

  • Reside in Canada and are at least 15 years old
  • Have stopped working because of COVID-19 (unless voluntarily quit)
  • Had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of application
  • Have had, or expect to have, at least 14 consecutive days without employment or self-employment income in the initial four-week period (March 15 to April 15)
  • Expect to have less than $1,000 income for the next 4 weeks

Note the bold text in the last line.  Until yesterday, you were disqualified if you had any income at all.  Now you can have up to $1,000 of income in any qualifying period and still qualify for the benefit.

In addition, workers who have exhausted regular EI benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19 now qualify for CERB.

For details on how to apply, etc., please visit the government’s CERB page.

New Program – CECRA

This morning PM Trudeau committed to developing the Canada Emergency Commercial Rental Assistance (CECRA) program for small businesses.  CECRA will be designed to assist small businesses meet their commercial rental obligations.  The program is still in development, and no further details are available at this point.

CEBA Enhancements

CEBA (Canada Emergency Bank Account) is a $40,000 interest free loan, with 25% of the loan balance forgivable if certain conditions are met.  Previously, this loan was limited to businesses with total 2019 payroll between $50,000 and $1,000,000.  Eligibility has been expanded to included businesses with total 2019 payroll between $20,000 and $1,500,000.  If you qualify, contact your bank or credit union.  All applications are handled through the financial institutions’ online banking platforms.  Funds will be in your bank account 5 business days after successfully applying.

CEWS Enhancements

CEWS (Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) is a 75% subsidy payable to employers who have suffered a significant decline in gross sales, when compared to prior periods.  Changes have been announced that allow for greater flexibility in calculating whether revenues have dropped enough to qualify, and some details on calculating qualifying wages have been clarified.

This is a complex program, with various methods available to calculate whether or not your sales have declined enough to qualify, many conditions on how the qualifying wages are calculated, etc.  If you think you might qualify, you should become at least somewhat familiar with the details on the government’s background page.  If, after suffering through that ordeal, you are just as confused, and/or if you still think you qualify for the program, contact us.  Application will be made through the CRA, and the application process and funding are expected to be available within a few weeks.

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