April 17, 2020

Governments offer businesses additional relief

The federal and provincial governments are providing new and expanded programs to help Canadian businesses during COVID-19.


New rent assistance program for businesses   

The federal government is working with the provinces to create the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program  to provide small businesses loans to help pay their rent.   

This program will support businesses in paying rent for April, May, and June. These loans may be forgivable in some instances.   

More details will come soon.     

Expanded Canada Emergency Business Accounts interest-free loans

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) allows financial institutions to offer up to $40,000 loans to businesses with a 2019 payroll between $20,000 and $1.5 million. This is an expansion from the original program that was only offered to businesses with payrolls between $50,000 and $1 million.   

These loans will be interest free until December 31, 2022, with no repayments required before this date. 

However, if you repay the balance of the loan early, the federal government will forgive 25 per cent of it, up to $10,000.   

If you carry the loan past December 31, 2020, it’ll convert into a traditional loan with your financial institution. These loans are already available. Contact your financial institution for more details.


Tax relief

The province is reducing the school property tax rate to achieve an average 25 per cent reduction in the total property tax bill for most businesses, providing up to $700 million in relief. This is in addition to the previous tax relief measures in the BC COVID-19 Action Plan.

As well, the province is postponing the date that late payment penalties apply to October 1, 2020.

COVID-19 BC Business Support Service

The new COVID-19 BC Business Support Service launched April 16 as a central service for BC businesses looking for information and help accessing government relief programs.

You can connect with this service at covid.smallbusinessbc.ca.

Provincial cash flow

The BC government is also assisting municipalities by: 

  • authorizing local governments to borrow, interest-free, from their existing capital reserves to help pay for operating expenses, such as employee salaries.
  • delaying provincial school tax remittances until the end of the year. This will provide significant relief to local governments facing cash flow issues.
  • providing local governments greater flexibility to carry debt for an additional year.

Their intent is to ensure that other minor taxing authorities can count on receiving the full amount they bill to municipalities and the province’s surveyor of taxes before August 1, 2020.

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