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

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 Thursday, August 20.

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:

  • Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
    The parts of this plan that apply to small businesses and their employees include:​​
    • Temporary changes to Canada Summer Jobs program (More details to come) To help small businesses hire and keep workers to continue to deliver essential services, temporary changes will be applied to the Canada Summer Jobs program this year including:
      • Wage subsidy increase — all employers (incl. those in the private and public sectors) will receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee.
      • Employment end date extension to February 28, 2021.
      • Ability for employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services.
      • Ability for employers to hire staff on a part-time basis.
    •  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.
      • Update as of June 17, 2020: CERB has been extended for another eight weeks — this will bring the maximum length of benefits to 24 weeks, and a total payout of $12,000. Note that the program still only applies to the period between March 15 and October 3.
      • The CERB covers:
        • 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).
        • Update as of April 15, 2020: Canadians making up to $1000 a month (part-time workers), seasonal workers and those whose EI has run out.
      • 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 applied for EI and whose application has not yet been processed do not need to reapply.
    • Canadians who are eligible for EI regular and sickness benefits can still access their normal EI benefits, if still unemployed, after the 16-week period covered by the CERB.
    • Applicants can receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. It is paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020, until October 3, 2020.
    • Apply to the program — for management purposes, the CRA has provided guidelines on when you can apply:

If you were born in the month of

Apply for CERB on

January, February or March Mondays
April, May or June Tuesdays
July, August or September Wednesdays
October, November or December Thursdays
Any month Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
  • Business and personal income tax deadline extensions — Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has deferred 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 is deferred until June 1, 2020.
    • Payment of any personal income and business tax amounts that become owing are deferred until after August 31, 2020.
    • Note: There is no extension on payroll remittance reporting or payment to the CRA
  • Temporary Small Business Wage Subsidy (TWS) — the Government of Canada provides eligible employers with a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy is 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.
    • Bill C-13 provides 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.
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) — The new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (separate from the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy) provides a 75% wage subsidy to eligible employers. 
    • Update as of July 17, 2020: The program is extended to December 19, 2020, and has been redesigned. Here are some handy 1-pagers provided by the CRA that speak to the new CEWS 2.0 and base subsidy and top-ups. Note that the new program details only apply up to the period ending on November 21, 2020. Key details include:
      • The subsidy rate varies, depending on how much your revenue dropped. More information on revenue drop and subsidy rate calculation.
      • If your revenue drop was less than 30% you can still qualify and keep getting the subsidy as employees return to work and your revenue recovers.
      • Employers who were hardest hit over a period of three months get a higher amount.
      • Employees who were unpaid for 14 or more days can now be included in your calculation.
      • Employers can use the current period’s revenue drop or the previous period’s, whichever works in your favour.
      • Even if your revenue has not dropped for the claim period, you can still qualify if your average revenue over the previous three months dropped more than 50%.
      • The maximum base subsidy rate will begin to decline in claim period 7, gradually reducing to 20% in period 9.
      • This chart shows the base subsidy rate formula and comparison periods for periods 5 to 9.Chart showing the base subsidy rate formula and comparison periods for periods 5 to 9.
      • This chart shows the top-up rate formula and comparison periods for periods 5 to 9.Chart showing the top up subsidy rate formula and the specific comparison periods.
    • Eligible employers will be able to apply for the wage subsidy for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
      • Update as of June 15, 2020: The program has been extended by an additional 12 weeks, to August 29, 2020.
      • Update as of May 11, 2020: The program is set to be extended past June 6. More details to come.
      • Update as of May 15, 2020: The program has been extended by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. 
    • The subsidy amount for a given employee on eligible remuneration paid between March 15 and June 6, 2020, would be the greater of: 
      • 75% of the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week.
      • The amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75% of the employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration, whichever is less
    • To qualify, employers must have seen a drop of at least 15% of their revenue in March 2020 and 30% for the following months (more details below).
      • Charities & non-profits may include or exclude government funding when calculating loss in revenue.

  • Eligible employers include:
    • Individuals.
    • Taxable corporations and partnerships consisting of eligible employers.
    • Non‑profit organizations.
    • Registered charities.

Update as of May 15, 2020: The government has extended eligibility to the following groups:

  • Partnerships that are up to 50% owned by non-eligible members.
  • Indigenous government-owned corporations that are carrying on a business, as well as partnerships where the partners are Indigenous governments and eligible employers. 
  • Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations.
  • Registered Journalism Organizations.
  • Non-public colleges and schools, including institutions that offer specialized services, such as arts schools, driving schools, language schools or flight schools.

Applying to the program — Application to the program is now open (as of April 27).

  • Eligible employers can apply for the subsidy program through the Canada Revenue Agency’s (CRA) My Business Account portal. Employers will need to keep records demonstrating their reduction in arm's-length revenues and remuneration paid to employees.
    • The CRA has provided a guide to applying for the CEWS.
    • If you are completing the CEWS application on behalf of a client, the client (business owners/senior employees) must sign a CEWS attestation form.
    • Employers can use the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy calculator — launched by the federal government — to prepare for their CEWS application.
    • Funding will be directly deposited into the employer's bank account. If direct deposit is not set up, cheques will be mailed out. 
    • Funds for approved applications (subject to CRA verification) will begin to be released on
      May 5.
    • Once an employer is found eligible for a specific period, the employer would automatically qualify for the next period.
  • For employers who are eligible for both the 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for a period:
  • Any benefit from the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period would generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy in the period.

  • COVID-19 Response Fund 
    The parts of this fund that apply to small businesses and their employees include:​

    • Employment Insurance (EI) — The government has waived the one-week waiting period for EI benefits for workers in quarantine and those who've been told to self-isolate. The government has also waived 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
      • Employees shouldn't wait for the ROEs. Instead, they should submit their applications through Service Canada. 
        • Service Canada houses both the EI applications and the ROEs. If both processes are activated, then they will be connected through the Service Canada system. 
    • Work SharingThe Work-Sharing program by Employment and Social Development Canada (EDSC) is aimed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs. EDSC has doubled 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 $40 billion Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).​
      • Both initiatives highlighted below will be administered by private-sector financial institutions. Interested small business owners are asked to work with their current financial institutions.
      • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) — 100% government-funded, CEBA provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs (payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax, debt service) during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. This program is now available and will be in the form of an interest-free line of credit. 

        • If the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022, 25% (up to $10,000) will be forgiven.
        • If the loan is not repaid by December 31, 2022, the remaining balance will be converted to a three-year term loan at 5% interest. 
        • Eligibility Updated on April 17, 2020: To qualify, you must be a Canadian employer with $20,000 to $1.5 million (previously $50,000 to $1 million) in total payroll in 2019 and have been operating as of March 1, 2020. 

          • If you have multiple operating entities, you can apply for each entity.
          • A business bank account is required (not a personal account).

          • Keep this information on hand:
            • Ability to provide a copy of the 2019 T4 Summary (2019T4SUM) if requested.
            • Employment income reported in Box 14 of T4 Summary.
            • Payroll Number (RP000x).
        • Application process — Contact your financial institution or log in through your online banking portal to apply.

      • SME Loan and Guarantee program — both programs highlighted below will roll out in mid-April. We will provide an update as soon as we can.
        • Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises — EDC is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.

        • Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises — BDC is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.

      • Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) — This program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19 via forgivable loans from the government. CECRA is expected to operate by mid-May.

        • Forgivable loans will be given to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants experiencing financial hardship during April (retroactive), May, and June. 
        • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder (up to 25%).
        • Eligibility — An eligible small business tenant is one who is paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.
  • BDC financing and business loan links
  • BDC business continuity plans and templates 
  • 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. 
  • Government actions (Official federal actions) 
  • Pandemic preparedness guide (Downloadable PDF and helpful links from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce — includes a helpful crisis communication plan and response planning checklist.) 
  • Protecting your employees (Advice from the CFIB)
  • Preparing your business (Downloadable PDF provided by WHO)

Other government business/commerce organizations  

Other government health organizations

Provincial and territorial-specific Information

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 pages with specific information for business owners include:

  • $2.2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act — signed on March 27, 2020.
    The parts of this economic stimulus package that apply to small businesses and their employees include:​​​ 
    • Unemployment benefits that boost the maximum benefit by $600 per week and provides laid-off workers with their full pay for four months. The Pandemic Unemployment Assistance program expands unemployment insurance to cover individuals who are not currently covered by traditional unemployment assistance, including:

      • Individuals who are unable to work because of coronavirus, whether due to illness, quarantine or child care needs.

      • Individuals who are self-employed, including gig workers and freelancers.

      • Part-time workers.

    • Direct payments of $1,200 to most individuals making up to $75,000, or $2,400 for couples making up to $150,000.  The amount decreases for individuals with incomes above $75,000, and payments are cut off for those earning above $99,000.

    • $377 billion in loans for small businesses including:

      • $350 billion in loan forgiveness grants to small businesses and non-profits.

      • $10 billion for Small Business Administration (SBA) emergency grants of up to $10,000.

      • $17 billion for the SBA to cover six months of payments for small businesses with existing SBA loans.

    • Short-time compensation (STC) programs — also known as “work-sharing” — these programs help employers avoid layoffs by putting workers on part-time schedules with partial unemployment benefits to help make up for some of the lost income.
      • More information on STC programs can be found here.
  • Coronavirus-related paid leave for workers and tax credits — Falling under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA or "Act"), small and midsize employers can take advantage of two new refundable payroll tax credits for the cost of providing Coronavirus-related leave to their employees.
    • Employees can receive up to 80 hours of paid sick leave and expanded paid child care leave when employees' children's schools are closed or child care providers are unavailable.

    • Employers receive 100% reimbursement for paid family and medical leave pursuant to the Act.

    • Employers can take immediate advantage of paid leave credits by retaining and accessing funds that they would’ve paid to the IRS in payroll taxes.

    •  If those amounts are not enough to cover the cost of paid leave, employers can seek an expedited advance by submitting Form 7200, Advance of Employer Credits Due To COVID-19.

  • IRS Employee Retention Credit — The Employee Retention Credit encourages businesses to keep employees on their payroll. The refundable tax credit is 50% of up to $10,000 in wages paid by an eligible employer whose business has been financially impacted by COVID-19. 

    • Qualifying and application information can be found here

      • There is also a list of helpful FAQs

      • In order to apply, you’ll need the information in Quarterly Form 941 or you may need to submit a new document called Form 7200

  • Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) — The Paycheck Protection Program program sets government-backed loans from private banks that can (in some cases) be converted to grants. Loans may be forgiven if used for payroll, mortgage interest payments, rent, and utilities. It will be available retroactive from Feb. 15, 2020, so employers can rehire their recently laid-off employees through June 30, 2020.
  • Update as of July 8, 2020: PPP has extended to August 8, 2020
    • The information sheet for borrowers can be found here.

    • The application form can be found here — Note: Employers must apply at a bank.

    • Here is a list of helpful FAQs.

  • Economic Injury Disaster Loans (EIDLs) — Employers are eligible to apply for an Economic Injury Disaster Loan advance of up to $10,000. The loan advance will not have to be repaid and funds will be made available within three days of a successful application.
    • Qualifications: Small businesses with less than 500 employees (including sole proprietorships, independent contractors and self-employed persons), private non-profit organizations or 501(c)(19) veterans organizations affected by COVID-19.
    • Apply to the loan here.

Other government business/commerce organizations

Other government health organizations

State-specific Information

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, inhaling banana cream pies, studying into different personality frameworks (her MBTI: ESFP), and pestering her partner.

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