Issues with Economic Response Programs
Generally, it is accepted that our federal and provincial governments are actively attempting to ensure our personal health and financial safety. But as they roll out programs intended to address as many businesses and individuals as possible, specific circumstances are arising that exclude some companies and workers from accessing the new benefits.
ACC and its member Chambers have and will continue to highlight these issues to all levels of government with notable success. However, we want to assure our members and their networks that we continue to make government aware of their concerns and have requested clarity on a variety of issues that are negatively affecting the survival of businesses across the region.
Below is a list of the top five most pressing questions we continue to hear and that we are continuing to request clarity from government.
Top 5 Questions & Answers From Businesses
Q. Eligibility requirements for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy of 75% include a requirement of proof of a 30% decrease in revenues compared to the same month last year. This will effectively exclude new businesses, businesses with cyclical revenue, businesses where owners are not paying a salary (reinvesting, repayments of capital, dividend income). How will government ensure these companies can access payroll support?
To date, the Government of Canada has verbally indicated they intend to be flexible in their application of this requirement, but nothing has been officially published. ACC will continue to push for early certainty about the wage subsidy qualifying requirements.
Q. The self-employed are eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit of $2,000 per month but the program requires the individual to have declared $5,000 in income during the previous year. For some new businesses and those in growth mode, owners often to not pay themselves a salary. Will the $5,000 income requirement be deferred for such individuals?
The Government of Canada has been made aware of this situation, but no change in eligibility criteria has been published or communicated. ACC has communicated that this is a significant issue for individuals personally, as well as the survival of many start-up and high-growth companies across the region.
To access loans under the Canada Emergency Business Account, applicants must show a minimum annual payroll of $50,000. Much like other benefit programs, the potential exists to exclude very small and new businesses.
This concern has been communicated to a variety of federal ministers and local MPs. Responses to date have been to acknowledge the concern and promise to raise it inside government. To date, no solution has been communicated that will address this challenge.
Q: Businesses are facing critical liquidity challenges. In addition to the welcome deferral of HST/GST remittances to June, will government delay imposing additional costs through increases to the carbon tax and CPP premiums until this crisis is over?
The government has indicated it intends to proceed with increases to the carbon tax even in the face of crashing gas prices. ACC and the Canadian Chamber continue to advocate for delaying any unnecessary increases in regulation and taxes.
Q: There are several industries that will be hit hard in the coming months due to the decrease in economic activity (e.g., tourism, hospitality and travel). With the possibility of small/large businesses in these sectors losing entire annual revenues, what will government do to mitigate the losses?
No industry specific programs have been announced by government to date. ACC has highlighted to government the importance of tourism to our region and will emphasize the need for directed action to avoid local job loss and business closures.