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Navigating a New Wave of COVID-19 Programs and Funding for Businesses

March 2, 2021

In case you missed it, we held a live webinar and Q&A on February 17th, presented by Dorothy Keating, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D and Beth Porter, CPA, CA, CFP from Noseworthy Chapman Chartered Professional Accountants, about navigating through the subsidies and loans currently available for businesses as we face the current wave of restrictions in NL.

While we’ve faced these restrictions before, things aren’t quite the same this time around regarding the available programs to aid businesses. 

The webinar session was filled with incredible information which can be helpful to all kinds of business owners seeking guidance about such COVID-19 related funding. 

If you missed out on the webinar, don’t worry! We’ve put together this summarized article to help make things a little clearer for you during these uncertain times.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

CEWS is a federal program that was announced in March 2020. Initially, it was effective to August 29, 2020, but was extended to December 2020 and then a 2nd time to June 2021. It’s a non-repayable subsidy which covers a portion of the first $58,700 of an employee’s eligible payroll to a maximum benefit of $847 per week. 

The details of the subsidy change based on which claims period it is under at the time of the claim. It’s currently in period 13 which runs from February 14th to March 13th. During the current period, CEWS is a graduated subsidy depending on % of revenue decline (no minimum) with slight change to maximum top-up percentage. Use the month of February for your % of revenue decline.

There are two components in the overall subsidy rate:

Base rate (uses your base revenue drop) + Top-up rate (available where revenue drop > 50%)

 = Overall CEWS rate 

Making a claim:

  • You must wait until the end of the period
  • The claim deadline is 180 days after the end of the period 

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

CERS was announced in Fall 2020, and runs to June 2021. It’s a subsidy paid directly to qualifying renters and property owners. The landlord is not required to participate. Businesses, NPOs, and charities with a drop in revenue are eligible.

You may also be eligible for additional lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more. 

CERS covers a portion of eligible expenses for each qualifying property, subject to maximums and is calculated on a property-by-property basis.

Qualifying property:

  • Includes: buildings or land in Canada the business owns or rents and uses in the course of ordinary activities
  • Excludes: home/cottage/residence used by owners, property primarily used for rental 

Eligible expenses:

  • Includes: amounts paid to arm’s length party, in respect of a claim period, paid or payable under a written agreement in place before October 9, 2020 (or a renewal of similar agreement)
  • Excludes: expenses paid to non-arm’s length parties, expenses for time frame outside the claim period being applied for

Renters: 

  • Includes base rent, amounts required under a net lease (may include property insurance, utilities, common area maintenance, property taxes, other ancillary services)
  • Excludes tenant insurance, GST/HST:

Owners:

  • Includes property and similar taxes, property insurance, interest on commercial mortgages used to purchase property (subject to maximums)
  • Excludes payments between non-arm’s length entities 

There are maximum eligible expenses of $75,000 per location per period and an overall cap of $300,000 of qualifying expenses per claim period.

Making a claim:

  • Currently in claim Period 6 (February 14th to March 13th) 
  • Deadline for filing claim for Period 6 is September 9th 

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

CEBA is an interest free, loan program administered by financial institutions which is avalilible to hard-hit small businesses and NPOs. It consists of $40,000, and if repaid before December 31, 2022, 25% (up to maximum of $10,000) will be forgiven. If not repaid by this date, it’s converted to a 3-year term loan with interest @5%.

In December 2020, an additional $20,000 with 1⁄2 forgivable was added to the program. 

Overall, applicants have until March 31, 2021 to apply for a $60,000 CEBA loan or the $20,000 expansion if the original $40,000 has been already received.

Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP)

HASCAP is a new loan program intended to assist businesses from all sectors via access to government guaranteed additional financing. Proceeds of the loan are meant to exclusively fund operational cash flow needs of the business and ensure a degree of continuity of operations.

The key features:

  • Loan amounts available are between $25K to $1 Million per legal entity
  • Up to 10-year repayment term
  • 4% fixed interest rate
  • Up to 12-month postponement of principal repayments at the start of the loan
  • No personal guarantee will be required to secure the loan
  • Program application period ends June 30, 2021 

Eligible businesses are those that meet the following criteria:

  • Be a commercial enterprise whose intent is to generate revenue from the sale of goods or services that is at least sufficient to cover its operating expenses and service its debt;
  • Have been financially stable and viable prior to the current economic environment and;
  • Not have an impaired loan as of March 31, 2020 or as of the eligible loan closing date

Additionally:

  • If your business does not qualify for CEWS or CERS, but otherwise meets all HASCAP eligibility criteria, you must provide financial statements that reflect at least three months (not necessarily consecutive) in which monthly year over year revenue decreased by at least 50% within the eight-month period prior to the date of the HASCAP Guarantee application.
  • If you qualified for CEWS or CERS but did not experience a 50% drop in revenue for at least three months (not necessarily consecutive) of the eight-month period prior to the date of the HASCAP Guarantee application, you will not qualify for the HASCAP loan.

One of the key criteria for qualification for this loan is meeting the 50% drop in revenue for a minimum of three months within the eight-month period. 

The application process opened February 1, 2021 and companies should apply via their financial institution. 

Canada United Small Business Relief Fund

The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund is a grant created by RBC and administered by Ontario Chamber of Commerce 

It’s available to companies with no more than 75 employees and which have minimum annual sales in 2019 of $150,000 and not more than $3,000,000. The maximum grant is $5,000.

The grant may be used to reimburse costs for:

  • Purchase of PPE
  • Renovation of space to adhere to re-opening guidelines
  • Enhancement of website/developing e-commerce capability 

To view the full guidelines of the program, click here.

*DISCLAIMER: Please note that while we have made every effort to ensure the accuracy of information contained in this presentation, due to the rate at which the current COVID-19 situation is changing, and the response by government to feedback on its initiatives, the information contained in this update is accurate as of the date of this publication.

As the information is for general use and not intended to serve as advice, no warranty is given in relation to the accuracy, reliability or appropriateness of any information. The information does not constitute professional advice and should not be relied upon as such. Users are therefore encouraged to consult with their chosen professional advisers before making any decision.

About the contributors

Dorothy Keating, FCPA, FCA, ICD.D and Beth Porter, CPA, CA, CFP, are both partners with Noseworthy Chapman. Each has over 25 years experience and specializes in advising owner-managed businesses. As members of a six-partner team that owns the largest independent firm of CPAs in the province, they also encounter many of the same issues and challenges that you or your business would experience on a day-to-day basis. 

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