IDEAS & WORK

COVID-19 Policy Updates

We are committed to providing Albertans and Canadians with accurate, up-to-date information on actions the federal and provincial governments are taking to protect people, business and the economy in this health and economic crisis.

Both the provincial and federal governments have taken important and positive action to respond to COVID-19 and the resulting health and economic crisis. We have gathered all the assistance measures announced by both the provincial and federal governments in one place to help you navigate the various supports available to Canadians and businesses.

You will find the specifics of each announcement below as it relates to Canadians/Albertans, businesses and the economy overall. 

As new measures to keep our communities safe and healthy and our economy afloat are announced, we will update and share this page. 

FEDERAL POLICIES

May 11, 2020 – Liquidity Support for Large Businesses

  • The federal government announced a new program called the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) which will provide bridge loans to large companies across all sectors who need liquidity to maintain business operations. There will be restrictions on how the money can be used and criteria for eligibility. Businesses must:
    • seek to protect employment, investment, collective bargaining agreements, and pensions;
    • limit dividends, share buy-backs, and executive pay; and
    • publish annual climate reports to show how future operations will support sustainability and national climate goals
    • not have a history of tax avoidance or evasion
  • The federal government also announced an expansion of the Business Credit Availability Program to help larger businesses.
    • Previously, the largest available loan was up to a $6.25M loan for SMEs
    • Now, businesses can receive up to a $60M loan per company and guarantees of up to $80, to provide support for larger businesses

May 5, 2020 – Support for farmers and producers

  • The federal government will provide $252M in support for farmers and businesses related to Canada’s food supply chain as well as $200M more for borrowing, including:
    • $77.5M for worker PPE and safety via the Emergency Processing Fund
    • $125M for a “set aside” program to help with the added cost of supporting livestock for longer periods due to backlogs of processing plants
    • $50M for purchasing of surplus food to redistribute to organizations and individuals in need
    • $200M increase in the Canadian Dairy Commission’s borrowing limit to help with costs of temporary storage of cheese and butter
    • Increased benefits and protection through the AgriStability and AgriInsurance programs
  • The wage subsidy program CEWS will be extended
    • The initial end date of early June will be extended for eligible employers.
    • More details will be provided soon.

April 24, 2020 – Support For Commercial Rent Payments

  • The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) is meant to lower rent by 75% for eligible small businesses whose revenue has been severely impacted.
    • Commercial property owners can receive a forgivable loan to cover 50% of three rent payments for eligible small businesses for April, May, & June.
    • The loan will be forgiven if the owner agrees to reduce the eligible business’s rent by at least 75% for these months and agrees to not evict the tenant.
    • Eligible businesses (including nonprofits and charities): those that pay <$50,000 per month in rent and have temporarily closed; or had a 70% drop in revenue due to COVID-19

April 22, 2020 – Liquidity Support For Small to Medium Oil Services Companies

  • The federal government will backstop loans to the oil & gas sector to assist with liquidity needs.
    • Export Development Canada (EDC) will backstop up to 75% of a bank loan up to $100M.
  • The program is eligible to:
    • Companies that pump <100,000 barrels of oil a day
    • Small and mid-sized oilfield service companies and firms that ship, process, and store oil & gas

April 17, 2020 – Support for Energy, Tech & Innovation, Arts & Culture and Small Business

  • $1.7B in support for the Energy Sector via the Orphan Well Project in BC, Alberta, & Saskatchewan to maintain an estimated 5,200 jobs and restore land which is currently unusable
  • $750M for a methane emission reductions fund which will maintain an estimated 4.8k jobs and work toward national emission reduction goals
  • $962M of additional loans available for small businesses through regional development agencies and the Community Futures Network
  • $270M for Futurpreneur & IRAP to support innovators and early stage developers, many of whom do not qualify for existing programs
  • $500M support for the Arts, Culture, and Sport industries to access financing, as many in these industries found themselves ineligible for existing programs

April 8, 2020 – Expansion to Canada Summer Jobs Program

  • The Canada Summer Jobs program was expanded; the deadline for applying was extended and the wage subsidy for university hires was increased to 100% for eligible businesses

April 1, 2020 – Further Information on Wage Subsidy

  • Some details provided on the 75% temporary wage subsidy, now called the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
    • The program will last for three months
    • All businesses – including non-profits and charities whose monthly sales have decreased at least 15% in March due to COVID and 30% in future months
    • The subsidy covers 75% of each employee’s pay up to $847 per week and will be backdated to March 15
    • The subsidy is meant to encourage businesses to keep their employees on payroll or rehire workers recently laid off.
    • It is expected to take 3-6 weeks for the program to get running and companies will have to reapply for the subsidy every month
    • The estimated cost of the program is $71 billion

March 27, 2020 – New Benefits for Small & Medium Businesses

  • Offers temporary wage subsidy, equal to up to 75% of workers pay for any business – including non-profits and charities – whose monthly sales have decreased at least 30% year-over-year due to COVID. Specific details to come (see April 1 announcement).
  • Offers up to $40,000 in interest-free loans to small and mediums businesses for one year (More details are expected shortly.)
  • The Business Credit Availability Program was expanded to provide $65 billion in direct lending via multiple programs which are currently being rolled out including:
    •  The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) which offers a $40k interest-free loan to small business who paid $50k – $1M in total payroll in 2019
    • The EDC Loan Guarantee for Small & Medium-Size Enterprises offers loans of up to $6.25M with 80% guaranteed by EDC
    • The BDC Co-lending Program for Small & Medium-Size Enterprises offers loans of up to $6.25M, based upon business size

March 18, 2020 – Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
More Info: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

  • Provides $10B in credit support, targeting small and medium-size businesses through the Business Credit Availability program
  • Allows deferral of tax filing & payment until September 1 interest-free
  • Offers a temporary wage subsidy equal to 10% of workers pay for a maximum of $1,375 per employee & $25,000 per business for eligible small business
  • Increases flexibility in the Canada Account to support exporters deemed to be in the national interest with loans, guarantees, or insurance

March 11, 2020 – $1B COVID-19 Emergency Response Package
More Info: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

  • Doubles the time employers and employees can use Canada’s Work-Sharing program, a program which encourages a small reduction in hours of many workers rather than layoffs ($12M)

PROVINCIAL POLICIES

April 24, 2020 – Details on Site Rehabilitation Program

  • The oil Site Rehabilitation Program will begin on May 1. This program is funded by the federal government’s $1.7B announced last week to clean up orphan wells across Canada as a way to restore land and retain jobs.

March 31, 2020 – Provincial Investment in Keystone XL

  • Invests $1.5 billion to begin construction on the Alberta portion of the Keystone XL pipeline to create an estimated 6,800 jobs in Alberta during construction and an estimated $30 billion in tax revenue over time

March 23, 2020 – Alberta’s Property Tax Deferral Announcement & Other Updates
More Info: COVID-19 Support for Employees and Employers

  • Reverses the 3.4% education property tax increase, announced in Alberta’s 2020 Budget, to save businesses $32M a year, with the intent that this will be passed onto tenants through reduced or deferred payments
  • Defers half of the property tax businesses would have been responsible for this year to save businesses $458M
  • Allows for deferral of payments:
    • Electricity and natural gas payments for 90 days for those who qualify for financial support
    • Corporate income tax balances and installment payments until August 31
    • Workers’ Compensation Board premiums so employers will only pay half of the 2020 compensation

FEDERAL POLICIES

May 12, 2020 – Support for seniors

  • The federal government announced $2.5B in spending to support eligible seniors with a one-time payment of up to $500 to help with additional health and social challenges due to COVID-19.
    • Seniors eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension will receive a one-time $300 payment
    • Seniors who are eligible for Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS) will receive an additional $200 one-time payment

April 22, 2020 – Support for post-secondary students

  • The federal government announced $9B of support for post-secondary students through a new program, the Canada Emergency Student Benefit:
    • College and university students currently in school, planning to start in September, or who graduated in December 2019 will receive $1,250 a month from May – August
    • Students can receive up to $1,750 if they care for a dependent or have a disability
    • Students who have a job but earn <$1,000 a month still qualify
    • Students who volunteer will be paid $1,000 – $5,000 based on hours and are still eligible for the $1,250 a month
    • Student grants will be doubled – up to $6,000 for full-time and up to $3,600 for part-time stents
  • Other additional support:
    • Increasing the weekly maximum amount that can be provided through Canada student loans program for the upcoming school year from $210 to $350 and broadening eligibility
    • $75M for Indigenous post-secondary students
    • $291M for federal granting councils to extend scholarships, fellowships, and grants for 3-4 months to continue research and placements

April 15, 2020 – Expansion of CERB Eligibility

  • The federal government announced that CERB eligibility will be expanded to include:
    • Those earning up to $1,000 a month
    • Those previously on EI whose benefits ended and are unable to find work, such as seasonal workers
  • Other supports announced include:
    • A wage boost for essential workers, such as long-term care workers, earning less than $2,500 per month (more details to come)

March 29, 2020 – Supports for Mental Health and Seniors

  • Provides $7.5 million in additional support for the Kids Help Phone which provides mental health support by connecting kids with professionals and volunteers. The program has seen demand more than triple since the outbreak.
  • Provides $9 million in support to seniors in the community through The United Way by providing delivery of groceries and other items and reaching out to determine other needs

March 18, 2020 – Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
More Info: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

  • Closes gaps in existing worker support programs:
    • Emergency Care Benefit for those who are sick, caring for a sick family member but did not qualify for EI or taking care of children due to school closures (up to $10B)
    • Emergency Support Benefit for longer-term support for affected workers (up to $5B)
    • On March 25th, these programs were merged into the Canada Emergency Response Benefit which provides workers with $2,000 a month for up to four months.
  • Provides temporary income support for targeted group:
    • Goods & Services Tax Credit doubled for qualifying families
    • Canada Child Benefit also doubled (+$300) for families most in need
    • Tax deferrals for filing & payment interest-free until June 1st
    • Mortgage deferrals for qualifying individuals
    • Student loan deferral options for 6-months interest-free
    • Additional support for Indigenous communities ($305M), homelessness ($157.5M), and domestic violence victims ($50M)
    • Reduced Minimum Withdrawal for RRIFs by 25% for 2020 to give more flexibility to Seniors

March 11, 2020 – $1B COVID-19 Emergency Response Package
More Info: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

  • Waives the 1-week wait period for individuals in quarantine applying for Employment Insurance, as well as the need for a doctor’s note
  • $500 million directly to provinces and territories to determine best use
  • $275M in new funding for vaccine and antiviral research and development, and clinical trials. Additional supports for public health measures such as increased surveillance & testing at the National Microbiology Lab
  • Provides $200M of federal medical supplies, supports for Indigenous communities, and education efforts
  • Dedicates $50M to the international response, including collaboration with international organizations such as the World Health Organization

PROVINCIAL POLICIES

March 23, 2020 – Alberta’s Property Tax Deferral Announcement & Other Updates
More Info: COVID-19 Support for Albertans

  • Reverses the 3.4% education property tax increase, announced in Alberta’s 2020 Budget, to save households $55M a year
  • Provides emergency isolation support for working adults who must self-isolate with a one-time payment of $1,146
  • Allows for deferral of payments:
    • Electricity and natural gas payments for 90 days for those who qualify for financial support
    • Alberta student loan payments, paused for 6 months interest-free

FEDERAL POLICIES

March 27, 2020 – Bank of Canada

  • Bank of Canada cut its key interest rate by a half of a percentage point to 0.25%, a historic low

March 18, 2020 – Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

More Info: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses

  • Lowers the Domestic Stability Buffer which is the amount of cash banks need to have on hand to cover their loans, freeing up banks to loan more money
  • Allows the Federal Government to purchase up to $50B in insured mortgage pools to provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lender
  • Notes the Bank of Canada’s recent action of cutting the interest rate to 0.75% to increase liquidity 

PROVINCIAL POLICIES

March 23, 2020 – Alberta’s Property Tax Deferral Announcement & Other Updates

  • Encourages businesses and individuals to work with ATB and Alberta Credit unions to apply for individualized payment plans and support, including access to additional capital for businesses, to ease short-term cash flow limitations

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