COVID-19: Government Further Enhances Financial Support Programs

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.

In the April edition of News2Me, we provided an update on the federal government’s efforts to help Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic. While there were several encouraging developments to relay at the time, the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA) has continued to advocate for further adjustments to ensure no REALTOR® or brokerage needing support is left behind.

In a written brief to the House of Commons Standing Committee on Finance, CREA highlighted some of the gaps in existing programs, while proposing practical solutions making eligibility criteria reflective of the diversity in business structures driving the Canadian economy. Further to this, we’ve consistently raised our members’ concerns in ongoing discussions with government and elected officials.

In response, the government has announced changes that will help REALTORS® and brokerages requiring assistance to qualify for financial help.

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) has been extended by an additional 12 weeks to Saturday, August 29, 2020. The government also announced it would consult with businesses over the coming month on potential adjustments to the program, including the 30% revenue decline threshold.

Meanwhile, a greater number of businesses will be able to access the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), including sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations paying employees through dividends rather than payroll. Applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 will now be eligible if they have:

  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution;
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return; and
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities and insurance.

CREA continues to push the government for solutions for those who operate their business through a personal account.

It was also announced small businesses can apply for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) as of Monday, May 25, 2020. Updated program eligibility now makes it available to property owners who do not hold a mortgage.

Finally, if you’re wondering whether some of these programs could be right for you or your business, the government has launched an online tool to help you find the right financial assistance.

These measures are part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. The government is constantly assessing the evolving situation and is likely to introduce additional measures as it deems necessary. We are monitoring the implementation of existing measures and continue to advocate on behalf of REALTORS® as new initiatives are developed.

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.