COVID-19: Advocating for REALTORS®

Please note: the federal government is constantly updating their website as new information is announced. Remember to check Canada’s official coronavirus webpage and CREA’s COVID-19 online hub to stay up to date.

As Canadians stay home in order to combat the spread of COVID-19, the federal government has unveiled more initiatives and enhancements to previous announcements in order to provide financial help to individuals and businesses affected by physical distancing requirements.

Eligible brokerages can now apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) through their Canada Revenue Agency My Business Account. To ensure funds flow as quickly as possible, the government is recommending businesses register their payroll accounts for direct deposit.

CREA has previously lobbied for consideration of business written to assess declines in revenue for CEWS applications. Employers are now allowed to measure revenues on the basis of accrual accounting (as they are earned) or cash accounting (as they are received). CREA is working with government officials to ensure a new interpretation dictating the use of “normal accounting method when calculating revenue” does not prevent brokerages from qualifying.

In response to stakeholder concerns about the narrow scope of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019 are now included. Regarding the way subcontractors figure into payroll requirements, CREA has made government officials aware of the issue and proposed two solutions:

  • Expand eligible payment structures to include wages (T4), commission payments (T4A) and dividend payments (T5), reflective of the diversity of business models impacted by COVID-19; or
  • Allow businesses to qualify by demonstrating expenses intended to be covered by the CEBA other than payroll, such as rent, utilities, insurance, property tax, or debt service.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) is available to individuals who are not being paid by their employer. Depending on the specific situation, rehired individuals who may have received, or continue to receive, the CERB could be required to repay some, or all, of the amounts.

More information on economic initiatives can be found on the website for the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

To help us better understand your individual business lives and needs as we focus our advocacy initiatives, if you have not already done so, we invite you to complete our member survey conducted by Abacus Data on our behalf.

Thank you for your support as we continue to advocate on behalf of REALTORS®.

This article is for information purposes only and is not a substitute for professional advice. If you need professional advice you should consult a lawyer, accountant or other qualified professional.