The Prime Minister has confirmed that while discussions are being held at all levels of government regarding the eventual “re-opening” of the economy, our physically distanced reality will not be coming to an end within the coming weeks.

To ensure as many Canadians as possible are assisted through this crisis the Federal Government will provide additional assistance to individuals and businesses who are struggling as a consequence of COVID-19. The government has now announced a number of amendments to existing programs such as the CERB, as well as a slate of new relief programs for affected individuals and businesses.

Help for Businesses

Changes to the Canada Emergency Business Account

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides $40,000 in interest-free financing to eligible small and medium sized businesses who find themselves with a cash flow shortage during the ongoing economic downturn. Further, repayment of 75% of a CEBA loan by December 31, 2022 will result in the forgiveness of the final 25%. See our previous article for more information on the CEBA.

The CEBA has been widely accessed by small and medium enterprises since its was introduced in March 2020. However, today, the Prime Minister announced that the eligibility criteria for the CEBA is being relaxed to allow more businesses to access the program. The threshold for accessing the loans has been both decreased ( the business’ 2019 payroll requirement as been decreased from f $50,000 to $20,000) and increased (the benefit is now available to businesses with payroll of up to $1.5 million).

A business may qualify for CEBA financing if:

  1. it is a Canadian business, operating as of March 1, 2020; and
  2. paid between $20,000 and $1.5 Million in total payroll remuneration in 2019.

The Federal Government advises businesses that are interested in applying for CEBA financing to contact their existing financial institution to assess their eligibility and financial needs.

Commercial Rent Assistance

The Prime Minister also announced that the Federal Government would be working with the provinces to establish a commercial rent assistance framework for small and medium sized businesses. The program would assist businesses in meeting their rental obligations for the months of April, May and June 2020.

Details of this program are still sparse, but we expect to be updated soon and anticipate that  Partner, Claire Immega, will be monitoring the development of the Commercial Rent Assistance Program in order to provide you and your business with up-to-date insight on this program and how it may be of assistance to you.


Assistance for individuals

Changes to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

The Prime Minister announced that the CERB was being expanded to reach those who were previously ineligible for the program. For more information regarding the eligibility requirements for the CERB, please see our previous article. Moving forward, the CERB will be also be available to those Canadian workers who:

  1. Continue to earn employment income of up to $1,000 per month;
  2. have run out of EI eligibility since January 1, 2020 and are unable to find employment due to COVID-19; or
  3. have lost a seasonal employment opportunity as a result of COVID-19.

Temporary wage top-up for essential workers.

Finally, in response to the incredible strain that COVID-19 has imposed on essential workers and services, the Prime Minister also announced that the Federal, Provincial and Territorial Governments are working together to establish a temporary salary top-up program for low-income essential workers. Presumably, this assistance program will be available to employees of hospitals, long-term care facilities, grocery stores, food production facilities, gas stations, and other essential service providers.

The salary top-up will be available to those workers who have been deemed “essential” in their province of residence and who earn less than $2,500 per month, on a full-time basis.

Details regarding the eligibility criteria and application process have yet to be released.

We will continue to monitor the developments of the Federal and Provincial relief programs to ensure that you and your business have the information you need to take advantage of the assistance and financing that is available during this uncertain period.

Learn More About Commercial Real Estate

Our Commercial Real Estate Group has experience in all aspects of the law and practice related to commercial property acquisitions, management, structuring, development and sales.