How to apply for federal COVID-19 small-business support measures

In response to the COVID-19 crisis, the Canadian federal government released a number of initiatives to help small businesses, including those in foodservice.

Here are the two most relevant federal programs available for restaurant and foodservice operators, as well as straightforward information on how to apply.

Business Credit Availability Program

Established on March 13, 2020, the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is designed to help businesses obtain financing during the current health crisis, available to businesses in all sectors and regions. The BCAP is providing more than $10-billion in direct lending and other forms of financial support for businesses whose access to financing may otherwise be restricted. The BCAP also leverages additional lending by private-sector institutions.

Eligibility:

Any creditworthy Canadian business seeking financing to support operations and avoid layoffs may apply.

As of April 6, this also includes businesses whose primary revenue comes from alcohol sales, such as bars and lounges.

How to apply:

Contact your current financial institution(s), which will assess your financial request and determine how the BCAP may apply to their situation.

If the needs of your business exceed the level of support that institution is able to provide, the institution can work with Export Development Canada (EDC) or the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to access the additional resources made available by the government under BCAP.

Temporary Wage Subsidy

The government has also implemented immediate relief for small businesses with a temporary wage subsidy of for employers for a period of three months. Eligible employers will be allowed to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency.

The subsidy is equal to 75% of the renumeration you pay between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020, up to $1,375/employee, to a maximum of $25,000/employer.

Eligibility:

You must have an existing business number and payroll account with the CRA as of March 18, 2020, and pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other renumeration to at least one employee.

Other eligible businesses include non-profit organizations, registered charities, and Canadian-controlled private corporations.

Note that companies that are closed or did not pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other renumeration to an employee between March 18 and June 20 cannot receive the benefit.

How to apply:

As an employer, you must calculate your subsidy manually, following CRA guidelines. 

You will need the following documentation for your bookkeeping:

  • Total renumeration paid between March 18, 2020, and June 20, 2020
  • Federal, provincial, or territorial income tax deducted from that renumeration
  • Total number of employees paid from March 18 to June 20

Example: If you have 5 employees earning monthly salaries of $4,100 for a total monthly payroll of $20,500, the subsidy would be 10% of $20,500, or $2,050.

CRA Website

Once you have done these calculations, you can reduce your current remittance of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax sent to the CRA. Note that Canada Pension Plan contributions and/or employment insurance premiums cannot be reduced. You can start reducing these remittances in the first remittance period that includes renumeration paid between the March 18-June 20 period.

For finer details and frequently asked questions, please see the CRA’s Temporary Wage Subsidy page.

Crisis Preparedness Plans

The federal government notes that it is vital for businesses to have contingency plans in place to manage financial risks and damages. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has developed a comprehensive preparedness guide for businesses during the COVID-19 situation.

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