Across North America and the rest of the world right now, the way each of us live, interact and do business has changed. Writing this working from my home for the fourth week now, it seems that nothing is as it was at the start of March.

In Canada and the US, we’ve seen the enormous challenge COVID-19 is causing for hospitality, retail and leisure and entertainment businesses and the thousands of people they employ.  Some of our customers — the thousands of people who use Planday in Canada and the US — have told me how challenging it is to cut through the noise and get reliable information and help. So while things can change quickly, I wanted to gather some of the Government support that’s available to try and help businesses like yours make better decisions now. 

Get the right advice

The most important thing any business or any person can do right now is get the right advice. That means following the Canadian Government’s guide for COVID-19 with information on restrictions, tips for physical distancing and self-isolation, as well as a self-assessment if you think you have some of the virus’ symptoms. 

You can read the latest about Canada’s response here and sign up for email updates to stay up-to-date here

But it also means looking into the detail of the support that is available — including conditions and restrictions — to make sure you are making the best decisions for your business right now. Before you make any significant changes or decisions, you should get personal advice from official sources to make sure you’re doing the best thing possible.

There is help available 

It’s encouraging to see Governments around the world — including Canada — step up and support businesses and the people they employ during COVID-19. This is an essential lifeline for many businesses and we encourage you to consider whether some of these measures can help you keep people in work and ensure that you set your business up to recover from this crisis.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

If your business has a drop of at least 30 per cent in turnover, you might be eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. The amount will be calculated using your normal accounting methods and can be used to subsidise up to 75 per cent of someone’s salary. 

The amount will be calculated on eligible remuneration paid between 15 March and 6 June 2020. It will be the greater amount of the two below:

  • 75 per cent of the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week; and
  • the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75 per cent of the employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration, whichever is less.

For more details on the eligibility and what this could mean for your business, take a look at the Government’s advice here.

Support for avoiding staff lay-offs

In order to avoid laying off staff, the Work Sharing Program can provide employment insurance benefits to people who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share work while the business for which they work for recovers from a crisis. 

The period businesses can use this has been extended from 38 to 76 weeks. Its aim is to keep more people in work, maintaining their qualifications and skills, and to help businesses avoid training or recruiting other people. The plan a business must put in place to recover has also been reduced to a single line on the application form, given the fast-changing nature of the COVID-19 crisis. 

All your employees will have to agree to reducing their work by the same amount and it can vary from week to week, as long as the average reduction over the course of the agreement is between 10 and 60 per cent.

Read the details of the Work Share Program and how this could help reduce your employees’ hours here.

More time to pay your taxes

No matter what your business does or how big it is, cash flow is key to getting through the immediate and long-term challenges the COVID-19 crisis is causing. To help ease the pressures on cash flow, the Canadian Government has deferred — until after 31 August 2020 — the payments due for taxes on or after 18 March and before September 2020.

This covers tax balances due, and instalment arrangements you might have already had in place, with no penalties or interest will be charged during this period. 

For all the details on what this means for your business — and some advice for individuals’ tax arrangements — head this way.

Deferment of sales taxes and duties

Does your business rely on imports to connect Canadians with the retail goods they expect today? Is sales tax on the products for your bar or restaurant a big part of your balance sheet? 

Businesses like yours can now defer the payment of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and Harmonised Sales Tax (HST), as well as customs duty owing on their imports until 30 June. 

Any GST/HST payment that becomes owing from 27 March 2020 until the end of May can be deferred until the end of June. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May.

To get the details and see what this means for businesses and individuals, take a look at the Canadian Government’s guide here.

Get access to credit

Keeping with the theme of cash flow, businesses like yours should also consider the Business Credit Availability Program if you need to access additional credit to get you through this crisis. 

The Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada are working with private sector lenders to deliver additional support to individual businesses right now, rolling out from mid-April. 

Support includes the following measures:

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises
Export Development Canada is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs. The Business Development Bank of Canada is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.

Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.

If this is something of interest to your business now, take a look at these guidelines and work with your current financial institution. 

The Canada Emergency Business Account

For businesses in need of emergency financial assistance, the Canada Emergency Business Account can provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits to assist in meeting your business’ operating costs. 

Rolling out from mid-April, eligible businesses will have to prove they paid between $50,000 and $1 million in total payroll last year.

As with the Business Credit Availability Program, if this sounds like assistance which could work for your business, you should work with your current financial institution. 

Guide for businesses in the US and other markets

We understand that for many Canadian businesses, work doesn’t stop at the US border. This means the way you go about getting through COVID-19 has to change depending on the market you’re operating in. 

It’s encouraging to see Governments around the world step up and offer support for businesses or all sizes that are challenged right now but it can be difficult to try and understand what that means for your business in every location. The Planday team has put a guide together for the Government support packages in our main markets, which can help you if you do business in more than one place. 

Take a look at my guide for the US here, with information about the loans and support your business can access today. Our other guides are as follows:

Stay safe. Look after yourself. Look after your people. 

We know this is a really tough time for a lot of people and the challenge of living in the COVID-19 crisis changes every day. We are proud to help thousands of businesses as a communications tool that brings your team together in tough times like this.

By staying safe, following expert advice and looking after your people we know that — together — we can emerge from this crisis and get our businesses and lives back on track.



This piece is general in nature and should not be taken as professional, legal or qualified advice. Before taking any action at this time, we urge you to read the terms and conditions of each of the relevant agencies and seek your own specific professional advice before making any business decision. All information has been sourced from Government agencies and websites and links are contained within.

If you or your business are a Planday customer and need help, please contact our Support team and find out how they can assist your business bounce back stronger once this crisis ends.

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