March 25th, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. ###
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Providing aid to Small Businesses
Crowsnest Pass Herald Front Page
David Selles
Pass Herald Reporter
Both the Federal and Provincial Governments are beginning to lay out plans to provide financial aid to the many people who will need it over the coming months.

At the provincial level, MLA Roger Reid says many steps have been taken to help aid small businesses in the province.

“We have taken a number of steps this week to address the very serious economic impact on small businesses in Alberta. We know that cash flow will be a struggle as business see declining sales, or are completely closed due to COVID19. The following supports to small businesses should free up about $1.5 billion in capital to ease some of the pressures faced by our small business people during this unprecedented time.”

Reid says changes have been made to corporate income taxes to help alleviate some of the pressure.

“Corporate income tax balances and installment payments will be deferred from March 19 until August 31, 2020 to increase employers’ access to cash so they can pay employees, address debts and continue operations.”

According to Reid, utility payments can also be deferred if needed.

“Residential, farm and small commercial customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider. Call your utility provider directly to arrange for a 90-day deferral on all payments.”

Banks and credit unions are following suite with the major charter banks and Reid says personal situations can be addressed directly with credit unions.
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“Business members should contact their credit union directly to work out a plan for their personal situation”

Reid also says ATB Financial is putting a few things in place to provide aid as well.

“Small business customers can apply for a payment deferral on loans and lines of credit for up to 6 months and can also access additional working capital. Other businesses and agriculture customers can access support on a one-on-one basis. Further solutions are being considered at this time.”

As the situation is changing daily, Reid says people can find the most up to date information online.

“I encourage Albertans to refer to www.alberta.ca/covid19 where the most up to date information may be found.”

As for the Federal level, MP John Barlow says he’s personally spoken to small business owners to assess their concerns.

“Over the past couple of weeks I have spoken with dozens of small business owners throughout Foothills. My riding is mainly rural communities and their future relies on the success of our small businesses. They are dealing not only with the virus, but also a financial crisis. They have been creative in trying to remain open or to at least mitigate the impact of Covid-19. We have discussed a number of potential ways to address their concerns and I have shared those in discussions with government officials and ministers.”
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Barlow says there have been programs put in place but that there are still concerns among business owners.

“A number of programs have been announced, but the concern is thus far they do not go far enough, especially the 10% wage subsidy for small business owners. This is inadequate and we have asked the government to improve the programs available, specifically for small business.”

Barlow currently says the best way to stay up to date is online where new updates become available.

“I encourage business owners and all constituents to see https://johnbarlowmp.ca/covid-19-updates/ for all the Covid-19 information as we update it as it becomes available. Also see Canada.ca and Alberta.ca

As this situation is both unprecedented and changing rapidly additional support could be coming and will keep constituents updated.”

There are temporary business wage subsidy’s available right now.

“Eligible small employers will receive a subsidy equal to 10% of wages for a period of three months. The maximum subsidy is $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Eligible employers include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities. This benefit is available immediately, with supporting legislation to follow,” said Barlow.

According to Barlow, there is also a business credit availability program in place that is available immediately.

The program can provide small businesses with a loan up to $100,000 and can be obtained online, and businesses can also receive a working capital loan for over $100,000 to help support everyday operations.

This loan can also be found online.

Loans for purchase order financing to fulfill domestic or international orders are also available online.

All of these loans can be found at www.bdc.ca

Barlow says anyone with questions can contact BDC by phone.

“If you have specific questions about applying for funding, BDC can be reached at the toll-free number: 1-877-232-2269 Monday to Friday, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. (Eastern Time) and Saturday and Sunday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. (Eastern Time). They also have an online assessment tool.”
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As for other ways businesses are being supported, Barlow says the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) is also assisting.

“CFIB is offering advice and assistance to businesses navigating all of this. CFIB has opened their Helpline to all business owners including non-CFIB members for advice on managing COVID-19 situations in the workplace. To talk to an expert, please call them at 1-888-234-2232.”
There will also be help for self-employed Canadians.

“Self-employed Canadians, including parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures and are unable to earn employment income, can apply for the Emergency Care Benefit. This benefit is up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. Applicants will need to re-attest every two weeks.

As for who can apply, Barlow says many different people are able to.

“The self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits, the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits and parents with children who require care or supervision due to school closures and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI.”

Barlow says the applications for this will open in early April of 2020.
Individuals can also find help during this time.

There is an emergency support benefit that is a $5 billion fund to create a support for workers who aren’t eligible for EI as well as a GST credit.
Both of these aids will be available in April of 2020.
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Barlow says there are also other supports that provide flexibility for individual and corporate taxpayers.

Canada’s six biggest banks are also taking action to help customers impacted during this time.

Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; childcare disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19.

This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.

Individual Canadians or business owners facing hardship are encouraged to contact their bank directly to discuss options that could be available to them.

Barlow says that while there are many options for aid, not all of them will be available instantly.

“It is important to note some of the relief measures announced last week and today must first receive Royal Assent in Parliament, which will take place Tuesday. Therefore are not available until April. While all efforts are being made to make the process as simple and accessible under the circumstances, I anticipate there will be challenges. We’re looking at a historic number of people who have lost their jobs and businesses forced to close. About 500,000 Canadians applied for Employment Insurance last week. The influx of applications will certainly test the capacity of the Government. A lot of the aid available also requires individuals to apply online creating a barrier for those who do not have access to Internet. My office is here to support residents who may have questions or are facing challenges in accessing any of the relief measures available.”

Barlow says he’s been busy over the last weeks to try and make sure everything is being done to help people who need it.

“We have been in the office every day and well into the night fielding calls from business owners, people who have lost their jobs and constituents stranded around the globe. We are doing all we can to help people navigate their way through the programs, answer questions and take their suggestions. We have also been reaching out to stakeholders asking what assistance measures are needed, gaps they see and what initiatives would best address their situation. We know this is a challenging and stressful time; we are here to help alleviate some of the challenges they may face. Although we are no longer taking personal meetings in the office we are committed to being in the office as much as possible to field calls and emails from constituents and provide any assistance we can.”
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March 25th, 2020 ~ Vol. 90 No. ###
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