What does the new legislation cover – Update on the COVID-19 Emergency Benefit Legislation

You may have read my letter to the Ministers about gaps in coverage or financial support for small businesses.

It appears with the passage of the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act legislation to put new programs into place, that the terms of coverage for the CERB benefit have been somewhat expanded. Members of Parliament in the House yesterday urged anyone who needs help to apply.

Note: The government is not collecting taxes for CERB payments – so please keep that in mind to be able to remit taxes when appropriate.

The government appears to be enabled to extend support owner-operators, students, those receiving revenue from part-time work and others; and to make other arrangements. The scope of that ability is not yet clear.

It also appears that the Small Business Emergency Loan remains open only to those business owners who have had a payroll account of between $50,000 and $1,000,000 in the past year.

While the government is hearing about the issues with fixed costs… this still excludes businesses without payroll (even if as a start-up they have incurred leases, lease-hold expenses, inventory and equipment leases in preparation for their business launch or growth. It appears from Minister Morneau’s remarks in the House yesterday, that he believes any business owner (or in fact farm family – as was pointed out in the Senate) without payroll or employees considers the business arrangement of incorporation (as an example) to have been made for tax purposes.

This is discouraging however I would encourage business owners to first apply for the CERB benefit to stay afloat. It appears that business owners who are not able to pay themselves are now eligible for CERB (I have the name and employee number of the staffer who advised me of this… after my inquiry having been escalated to a supervisory level).  It may now be that those attempting to gain revenue at a small level (and we must celebrate your attempts to continue to stimulate the economy) may now be eligible.

Patricia Dent

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