Federal and provincial support for businesses

By MPP Toby Barrett

On March 25, Finance Minister Rod Phillips laid out Ontario’s Action Plan, including $10 billion to assist people and businesses during the COVD-19 Crisis.

COVID-19 represents an extraordinary threat to the health and economy of Ontario—the greatest we’ve faced in my lifetime—and it demands extraordinary responses from all levels of government and from civil society, because we are all in this together. 

Ontario’s support for businesses is summarized as follows. 

Employer Health Tax

  • To help businesses during the crisis, the government is proposing to double the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption in 2020 through a $355 million cut.
  • Through this change, about 57,000 private-sector employers would pay less EHT in 2020, including about 30,000  who would not pay EHT this year. 

$6 Billion in Tax Deferrals

  • Flexibility will be provided to businesses to meet their tax obligations between April 1, 2020 and Aug. 31, 2020 by making it interest and penalty-free for businesses who are unable to file and make payments on time for select provincially-administered taxes.
  • This is expected to free up as much as $6 billion in cash flow for about 100,000 businesses and complement the federal government’s March 18, 2020 announcement on federal corporate taxes.

$1.9 Billion in Workplace Safety Expenses

  • To provide additional support, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is allowing employers to defer premium payments for up to six months with no interest or penalties, providing immediate relief of up to $1.9 billion. 

$1.8 Billion in Education Property Tax Deferrals

  • Municipalities will have the option to defer the education property tax payment made to school boards for 90 days. 
  • This would defer the June 30 quarterly municipal remittance to school boards to allow municipalities the flexibility to provide more than $1.8 billion in property tax deferral to residents and businesses.

Further details can be found here – Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 or by e-mailing our office at toby.barrett@pc.ola.org

Federal measures for businesses

Wage Subsidy – The federal government will provide a wage subsidy of up to 75 per cent for all eligible businesses, backdated to March 15. Businesses that have experienced at least a 30 per cent drop in revenues, regardless of their size or number of employees, can apply for this subsidy. 

Income tax deferrals – Allow taxpayers to defer, until after Aug. 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax owing between now and the end of September 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

HST deferrals – The federal government will defer HST payments for small and medium-sized businesses until June – freeing up an additional $30 billion for businesses.

Canada Emergency Business Account – Canadian banks will provide $40,000 loans, backed by the federal government, to small and medium sized businesses. The loans will be interest free for the first year and, in some cases, the first $10,000 will be forgivable. 

Business Credit Availability Program – An additional $12.5 billion will be provided through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank of Canada to small and medium-sized enterprises for cash flow purposes.

Bank of Canada Interest Rate Reduction – on March 27 the Bank of Canada lowered interest rates to 0.25 per cent, down from 0.75 per cent announced on March 13. 

Further details can be found here – federal support for businesses or by contacting MP Diane Finley’s office.

Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk.