Coronavirus (COVID-19) — Key Resources for Small Business Owners

March 13, 2020 Mel Ly

This post will be updated as more information becomes available. If you know of a valuable resource,  please share it in the comments at the bottom of the post. Updated Friday, March 27. 

Canadian Small Business Resources
US Small Business Resources
Other Resources
Responding to COVID-19 as an Employer

Since the World Health Organization (WHO) declared COVID-19 (coronavirus) as a pandemic, government and public health professionals who are trying to provide the world with facts about the coronavirus have been battling a tsunami of misinformation. 

The role that employers play in the response to coronavirus is critical to their business and the first step is going to primary sources to ensure you've got all the facts.

Here is a list of key resources to help Canadian and American small business owners navigate through the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic:

Canadian Small Business COVID-19 Resources 

COVID-19 information 

The main government of Canada's COVID-19 website provides top-level public information overviews.

  • The national coronavirus information line (1-833-784-4397) is available from 7:00 a.m. to midnight (EST) seven days a week.

Other pages with specific information for business owners include:

  • $27 billion Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
    The parts of this plan that apply to small businesses and their employees include:​​
    •  Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) — Replacing the Emergency-Care and Emergency-Support Benefits, the Government introduced a taxable benefit that would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
      • The CERB would cover:
        • Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
        • Working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.
        • Workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19.
        • Unemployed Canadians who do not qualify for EI (wage earners, contract workers and self-employed individuals).
    • Canadians already receiving EI regular and sickness benefits as of today:
      • Will continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB.
      • If their EI benefits end before October 3, 2020 and are unable to return to work due to COVID-19, they can apply for the CERB once their EI benefits cease.
    • Canadians who have already applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed would not need to reapply.
    • Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits would still be able to access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
    • An application portal is expected to launch on April 6.
    • CERB payments are to be received within 10 days of application. It is to be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020.
  • Business and personal income tax deadline extensions — Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will defer the filing due date for the 2019 tax returns of individuals and businesses. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 
    • For individuals, the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.
    • Payment of any personal income and business tax amounts that become owing are deferred until after August 31, 2020.
  • Temporary Small business Wage Subsidy — the Government of Canada is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. The eligible period goes from the start of the day on March 18, 2020 to the end of the day on June 19, 2020. 
    • Update as of March 27, 2020: Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Federal Temporary Wage Subsidy (TWS) will be increased from 10% to 75%. The new wage subsidy will be backdated to March 15. More details to come.
    • Bill C-13 provided additional information:
      • “Eligible employer” for the wage subsidy — defined as a person or partnership who employs more than one employee in Canada, is registered with the CRA for payroll remittance purposes, and meets one of the following requirements:
        • A Canadian-controlled private corporation (CCPC) that qualifies for the small-business deduction for its last taxation year that ended before the eligible period;
        • An individual (proprietorship, and not a trust);
        • A partnership provided that all members are either CCPCs described above, individuals (other than trusts), or registered charities;
        • A non-profit organization; or
        • A registered charity. 
      • Record keeping — employers are required to retain information to support their subsidy calculation:
        • Total remuneration paid between March 18, 2020 and June 19, 2020.
        • Federal, provincial or territorial income tax that was deducted from that remuneration.
        • Number of employees paid in that period.
      • For Wagepoint customers: We have rolled out a new function ("Eligible Subsidy" toggle) to automate subsidy calculations in the app .
  • $1 billion COVID-19 Response Fund 
    The parts of this fund that apply to small businesses and their employees include:​

    • Employment Insurance (EI) — Waiving the one-week waiting period for EI benefits for workers in quarantine and those who've been told to self-isolate. The government is also waiving the requirement to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits.
      • The dedicated toll-free number for affected employees is 1-833-381-2725. 
      • Employers may be entitled to an EI Premium reduction for Short-Term Disability Benefits - Premium Reduction Program —  visit this page or call 800-367-5693 for more information. 
      • Information on issuing ROEs
    • Work SharingThe Work-Sharing program by Employment and Social Development Canada (EDSC) is aimed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs. EDSC is doubling the eligibility period for the Work-Sharing program from 38 to 76 weeks.
    • Small Business Lending — Strengthening investment in federal lending agencies, such as the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) through a $10 billion Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).
  • EDC FAQs for Canadian exporters 
  • EDC Impact on global supply chains 
  • Canadian Trade Commissioner Services (TCS) around the world 
  • Coronavirus (COVID-19) — Resources for Canadian Businesses
    Per the Trade Commissioner Service (TCS), the information on these sites summarizes key considerations and timelines only.
    They are not intended as legal or other professional advice. 

Other government business/commerce organizations  

Other government health organizations

Independent health and small business organizations

US Small Business Resources

COVID-19 information 

The main US COVID-19 website outlines the American Government's response to the coronavirus

Currently, the primary source of business information is US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which has a guide to the outbreak. Key sections include:

Other government business/commerce organizations

Other government health organizations

Independent small business organizations

Additional Resources 

Responding to COVID-19 as an Employer

Below are some tips and resources you can leverage to support your workers in response to COVID-19. 

  • Send out a company-wide memo. During times like these, it's understandable that your employees may be worried or concerned and may look to you for direction. As a leader, consider getting ahead of the curve by sending a company-wide memo that clearly outlines the company's next steps and some health tips. Here's an email template provided by Workest — feel free to make any changes to cater to your own business.
  • Transition your workforce to working remotely. One of the most effective ways to mitigate the spread of the disease is by encouraging your workforce to work remotely. Understandably, not everyone or business has had the experience of doing so. Luckily, there are many tools that can make the transition easier — such as Zoom, a video communication software for meetings and Slack, an instant messaging platform that allows teams to communicate and collaborate with each other. Something else to consider is Loom — in response to COVID-19, Loom has cut their prices and removed limits to their screen and video recording software. 
  • Provide an updated policy guide. If working remotely is not possible for your business, consider updating your workplace health and safety policies. If you need, Klick has developed and shared its policy guide to the public — employers are encouraged to leverage this and adapt it to their own needs.

Soften the impact of the coronavirus on your small business

There's no doubt that pandemics are scary — but as a leader and fellow human, you must stay objective by collecting information from a primary source. Times are unsettling, but remain calm and provide clear direction and guidance to your employees to maintain your small business' success. 

If you're a Wagepoint customer who needs help with the stress of making changes to your payroll during these times, please contact support@wagepoint.com or call 1-877-757-2272.  You can also trust that we'll work with you to find the solution that works best for you. 

About the Author

Mel Ly

Mel is a Content Specialist at Wagepoint with a keen interest in Wellness, People & Culture and the Employee Experience. When she isn't writing, she spends her time sipping on lattes, playing volleyball, studying into different personality frameworks (her MBTI: ESFP), and bugging her partner.

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