As we surpass the one-year mark of the COVID-19 pandemic, there have been several positives to reflect on, despite all the challenges we’ve faced.
The innovation demonstrated by our members, complying with physical distancing requirements by providing virtual tours and live streams on REALTOR.ca, is to be commended. Because of our ability to adapt, home sales rebounded following two difficult months and ended up setting records in 2020. For those who struggled through the transition, successful advocacy from our Government Relations team resulted in REALTORS® qualifying for financial support from the federal government in a time of need.
CREA has been in ongoing discussions with the government since the emergence of COVID-19. We have had meaningful conversations about the unique challenges facing REALTORS® and the potentially devastating outcomes of any interruptions to their day-to-day business. The government responded to calls for significant action and the following measures remain available to those who are still struggling:
- The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) helps employers retain and quickly rehire workers previously laid off. The government has announced the rate structure has been extended to June 5, 2021. This means the maximum base wage subsidy rate for active employees will remain at 40%, and the maximum top-up wage subsidy rate for employers most adversely impacted by the pandemic will remain at 35%. As such, the maximum combined wage subsidy rate will remain at 75%.
- The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free, partially forgivable loans to small businesses and not-for-profits that have experienced diminished revenues due to COVID-19, but face ongoing non-deferrable costs, such as rent, utilities, insurance, taxes and wages. All applicants have until March 31, 2021, to apply for a $60,000 CEBA loan, or the $20,000 expansion if they have already obtained the initial $40,000 CEBA loan.
- The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) provides taxable income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The government has announced a proposed extension to the CRB eligibility period limits. The change will allow eligible recipients to apply for a total of 19 periods (38 weeks) between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021.
- The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) is a taxable benefit for workers who are unable to work due to the effects of COVID-19. The government has announced a proposed extension to the CRSB eligibility period limits. The change will allow eligible recipients to apply for a total of four weeks between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021.
- The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) is a taxable benefit for workers who are forced to take care of a family member for reasons related to COVID-19. The government has announced a proposed extension to the CRCB eligibility period limits. The change will allow eligible recipients to apply for a total of 38 weeks between September 27, 2020, and September 25, 2021.
- The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) provides rent subsidies directly to businesses, rather than landlords, with a base subsidy rate of up to 65% available on eligible expenses. The government has announced it intends to extend the current rate structures for the CERS from March 14 to June 5, 2021. Specifically:
- the maximum rent subsidy rate will remain at 65%; and
- lockdown support will remain at 25% and continue to be provided in addition to the rent subsidy, providing eligible hard-hit businesses with rent support of up to 90%.
- The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) provides additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.
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. 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.