FAQ Resource Center

Our office is committed to protecting our clients, families, colleagues, friends, and our community and we are of the understanding that the most effective measure to prevent the spread of the virus is social distancing. We are encouraging our clients and our team to use electronic means to exchange documents whenever possible. Our work for you will continue as normal, as our system has the capacity to work remotely.

Client Portal

  • Documents can be exchanged between our office and you using the following secure portal
  • If you have previously received access to our portal you can continue to use this method to exchange documents
  • Should you require, our office can setup a new user portal account
  • Please contact Kristen at kristen@geibco.com if you require assistance

Frequently Asked Questions and What You Need to Know During the COVID-19 Situation

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has established the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month up to four months for workers who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB also applies to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) and are unable to work due to COVID-19.

Canadians who have ceased working due to COVID-19, whether they are El-eligible or not, would be able to receive the CERB to ensure they have timely access to the income support.

The CERB is available to individuals who meet all the following conditions:

  • Live in Canada and are at least 15 years old
  • Stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits
  • Have not voluntarily quit their job
  • Had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application
  • Individuals are eligible to collect CERB and earn income up to $1,000 per month

The CRA has developed an online questionnaire to assist individuals understand their eligibility for the CREB.

The CERB measures are accessible and one can apply online through your CRA My Account or over the phone to have funds come directly to your direct deposit account.

Claiming Period for Wages Required Reduction in Revenue Reference Period for Eligibility for Revenues
Period 1 March 15 to April 11 15% March 2020 over:
  • March 2019 or
  • Average January and February 2020
Period 2 April 12 to May 9 30% April 2020 over:
  • April 2019 or
  • Average of January and February 2020
Period 3 May 10 to June 6 30% May 2020 over:
  • May 2019 or
  • Average of January and February 2020
Period 4 June 7 to July 4 30% June 2020 over:
  • June 2019 or
  • Average of January and February 2020

On July 17, 2020, the Minister of Finance proposed changes to the Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) legislation, which includes an expansion of the CEWS to December 19, 2020. Please be advised that although the government has announced these incentives, the appropriate legislation has not been passed by the Canadian Parliament and has not received Royal Assent to become law. These amendments add considerable complexity to the CEWS regime.

Effective July 5, 2020, the CEWS would consist of two parts:

  • a base subsidy available to all eligible employers that are experiencing a decline in revenues, with the subsidy amount varying depending on the scale of revenue decline; and
  • a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 per cent for those employers that have been most adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Generally, employers that have experienced a 3-month average revenue drop of more than 50 percent compared to the previous year would be eligible to receive a top-up.

The two-part CEWS would apply with respect to the remuneration of active employees and there is a separate CEWS rate structure that would apply to furloughed employees. In addition, a safe harbour would be available to ensure that, through August 29 (periods 5 and 6), employers would have access to a CEWS rate that is at least as generous as they would have had under the initial CEWS structure. In Periods 5 and 6, employers who would have been better off in the CEWS design in Periods 1 to 4 would be eligible for a 75% wage subsidy if they have a revenue decline of 30% or more.

Reference claim periods for the CEWS are as follows:

  • Period 5 – July 5 to August 1, 2020
  • Period 6 – August 2 to August 29, 2020
  • Period 7 – August 30 to September 26, 2020
  • Period 8 – September 27 to October 24, 2020
  • Period 9 – October 25 to November 21, 2020

Rate structure of the base CEWS, without the top-up

Rate structure of the CEWS, with 25% top-up

WS is a wage subsidy that is equal to 10% of the remuneration you pay from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, up to a maximum of $1,375 for each eligible employee and to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer. It is a three-month measure. It will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). The subsidy must be calculated manually, either by you or whoever is responsible for making your payroll remittances. The CRA will not automatically calculate the allowable subsidy. An eligible employee is an individual who is employed in Canada. The following businesses are eligible, if you are:

  • An individual (excluding trusts);
  • A partnership (partnerships are only eligible for the subsidy if their members consist exclusively of individuals (excluding trusts), registered charities, or Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs) eligible for the small business deduction);
  • A non-profit organization;
  • A registered charity;
  • A Canadian-controlled private corporation (including a cooperative corporation) eligible for the small business deduction;
  • Have an existing business number and payroll program account with the CRA on March 18, 2020;
  • Pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration to an eligible employee; and
  • The subsidy calculation is based on the total number of eligible employees employed at any time during the three-month period.

For further details, please refer to our COVID-19: Government Benefits, Subsidy and Loan Programs. To discuss additional details, please contact our office at 403-259-4519.

For employers that are eligible for both the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the 10% wage subsidy for a period, any benefit from the 10% wage subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period would generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy in that same period.

For further details, please refer to our COVID-19: Government Benefits, Subsidy and Loan Programs. To discuss additional details, please contact our office at 403-259-4519.

The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and non-profit organizations, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1,500,000 in total payroll in 2019. A quarter of this loan (up to $10,000) may be eligible for complete forgiveness.

For applicants with $20,000 or less in total employment income paid in the 2019 calendar year:

  • The Borrower has a Canada Revenue Agency business number and has filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • The Borrower has eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1,500,000. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities and insurance. Expenses will be subject to verification and audit by the Government of Canada.

For further details, please refer to our COVID-19: Government Benefits, Subsidy and Loan Programs. To discuss additional details, please contact our office at 403-259-4519.

COVID-19 Resource Center

As the world grapples with the exponential spread of COVID-19, as a business owner, you need to be preparing for what could very well become an economic downturn that will last not just for the next few weeks, but possibly months. No one knows how long the virus will take to work its way through the Western World and eventually subside. It’s hoped that with the return of warm weather in the Northern hemisphere, the virus will fizzle out by Spring. But it’s possible that it could take longer. Look at Mainland China, which is ground zero for the virus. It’s just now starting to allow people to leave quarantine and return to normal daily life. This is four months after the virus first occurred there, and two months after the economy was virtually shut down. North Americans and the rest of the Western World could well be facing similar timelines as we start up the curve of the spread of the virus in our region.

We suggest, therefore, that you start planning now for the possibility that your business volume could be significantly reduced for the next few months, if not completely shut down. It goes without saying that in these unprecedented times, the first priority of every person, government and business, is the well-being of people. There are many resources available that are advising us how to keep people safe, with advice on social distancing, enhanced infection control and prevention, and so on. Knowing that you’re already doing everything you can to keep people safe, this post will focus instead on some practical tips for you to think about from a business continuity perspective.

In your business, and right now your people, your customers, your vendors and other stakeholders need to hear from you. Be the voice of reason and reassurance that they can rely on at this critical time. Communicate often, letting your people know that WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS. Share your concern but also your plans with them, so they know you have thought through the way forward, and that they can depend on you to keep on going as best as is possible in the circumstances.

  • Be Empathetic – your people are stressed; let them know you understand how they’re feeling and that you have their best interest in mind
  • Be Passionate – show you have the resolve and energy to deal with this situation head on and will see it through to the end; recognize the hard work of your team and let them know you are proud of them
  • Listen - to their story; people want to talk; be their ear
  • Be Caring - ask if anyone they know has been affected personally by the virus; how can you help?
  • Be Available – encourage people to reach out
    Be Patient – we could be in this for a while; don’t stress about what you can’t control; focus instead on what you can control

As we said, it goes without saying that at all times, people come first, and peoples’ well-being is everyone’s priority during this crisis. But the harsh reality is that the economy is dependent on the long-term survival and prosperity of business. And in business, CASH IS KING. If business slows down significantly, or worse, stops, then cash flow won’t be far behind, and when cash flow dries up, so will the business. So, now is the time to put measures in place to protect cash flow, before it’s too late. It’s time to build your war chest. Take steps now to:

  • Aggressively collect outstanding receivables - enforcing security if necessary; don’t wait until your customers are in a cash crunch to ask them to pay you; now is not the time to be last in the long line of businesses that will be chasing your customers for payment
  • Prioritize payments – categorize which vendors you absolutely must or should pay in full, and on time. These are the ones that supply critical goods and services to your business, and/or are most vulnerable if not paid quickly and fully, versus those that are either not a critical supplier to your business, or are more solid financially and more capable of weathering the coming storm
  • Request extensions on payment terms with your important vendors before you need them; remind your vendors that you are an important customer and that by working together to get through the coming downturn, you will be a stronger customer for them in the long run
  • If current payment plans are in place, these may need to be adjusted to be longer; be proactive in approaching your vendors on this
  • Ask your landlord for rent abeyance now - perhaps for 2 to 3 months; again, it’s in the long-term best interest of your landlord that your business survives through this period
  • Consider stripping cash from the business and holding it personally; you can always put the money back into the business down the road if necessary

Look closely at your spending – be prepared to cut discretionary spending, defer projects or large capital outlays if possible, and unfortunately, be prepared to have to make the hard decision to reduce payroll (more about that later)

Those of us that have been around the block a few times know that when it comes to bankers, they can be a fickle bunch. They can be our best friends when times are good, but when the bear comes around, watch out. Don’t turn your back on them, because if that claw lashes out to grab you, you want to see it coming:

  • Forecast your cash flow - keep a running forecast of your expected cash position based on expected cash receipts and payments over the coming weeks and months so you know where you’re at and where you’ll be
  • Monitor your lines of credit closely, especially if the accounts are margined on receivables, inventory and work in process; know where you stand on the margin values, and keep a tab on how close you are to approaching limits
  • Monitor your bank covenants – know when you have to report, and forecast where you’ll be on the covenants on the reporting dates
  • Keep the bank informed on a timely basis; despite the unflattering things we said about bankers above, they are usually reasonable business people that want to see you succeed and will work with you to make that happen, but they hate surprises. If your forecasts show you’re going to bump up against your line limit, or not make the margin or covenant requirements, the earlier you talk to your banker about it, the more likely they will be able to waive limits, etc., and the less likely they will be to call your loans
  • BDC has announced a program to support entrepreneurs during the Coronavirus challenges, with quick turn around on small business loans, working capital loans and purchase order financing, plus tailored solutions as required

Export Development Canada is providing advice and solutions, and is closely monitoring the impact of the global pandemic on trade in various jurisdictions, and can assist exporters

Just as you will likely be approaching your suppliers to arrange extensions over the coming days and weeks, you can expect that your customers will be doing the same with you. Be prepared:

  • Assess how severely each of your customers will be affected by the coming instability; this will be largely related to the impact on their customers and supply chain

Establish authority levels in your business for the extension of credit: who will be authorized to extend credit, by how much and for how long

With so many imports in North America now coming from Asia, and China in particular, we’ve already been dealing with the impact of the shutdown of manufacturing in those areas due to the virus. Production there might not come back on stream immediately. In addition, as the virus affects North Americans, businesses will likely be dealing with regionals suppliers that are unable to fill orders. Plan for shortages now:

  • Forecast Sales by Product, compare against current inventory and calculate requirements for the coming months to plan your production schedule
  • Determine the material quantities you will require to meet your production schedule and source the product now

Assess which of your suppliers might face challenges in delivery of product within your deadlines and search for possible alternates

Now more than ever, the investment you made in creating a virtual environment will begin to pay off. Leverage your technology:

  • Encourage your employees to work remotely; set expectations about responsibilities and accountability through a “remote work policy”; hold regular virtual team meetings to keep employees engaged and informed
  • Where a portal exists for clients and vendors to share information with you, communicate this and use it

Don’t fall down on security; your IT people will be working at full capacity, but they must remain vigilant about security

Some of your employees might be off work due to being sick with the virus. The federal government is eliminating the one week waiting period for sick employees to be eligible for employment insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. When business begins to slow dramatically, or you have to shut down due to quarantine orders, which might come, you will need to reduce payroll expense. This will likely create hardship for employees. You can ease some of the pain by considering the following:

  • Vacation – relax vacation policies and allow employees to take their full accrued vacation as paid time off
  • Prior to a quarantine order, consider reducing the work week, allowing flexible workdays, and/or dividing your work force
  • Be lenient with your time off without pay policies
  • Temporary lay offs are available as a last resort – make sure your payroll department is ready for quick filing of records of employment to allow your employees to access employment insurance as quickly as possible

While employees are off, stay in touch with frequent communications regarding return to work; make sure your employees know how to get in touch with you and your health insurance providers

Now is the time to look at what insurance you have, and assess what you need, so you can cover growing risks. Talk to your broker now about:

  • Business interruption – your policy might provide coverage for loss of profits due to this type of business environment (pandemic)
  • EDC insurance - provides export insurance

Receivables Insurance - covers risk of non-payment in certain circumstances

We trust that you continue to be well during this unprecedented and challenging time. Alberta’s provincial government has recently announced several support measures to mitigate some of the damaging effects being felt locally as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Recognizing the extreme strain that businesses are under, and the uncertainty being faced by the local economy, the provincial government has deferred several payments as a way of increasing short-term cash flow.

All provincial corporate tax balance and instalment payments will be deferred to August 31, 2020. This is in line with changes made at the federal level, and, while no change to corporate tax filing deadlines have been announced, by deferring payment requirements many corporations with December 31 fiscal year-ends will be able to defer any taxes payable on their December 31, 2019 corporate tax filing to September. The provincial government has also indicated that they will waive any penalties and interest that would otherwise be payable in respect of these amounts.

Education property tax rates will now be frozen at 2019 amounts, reversing the 3.4% increase announced in February’s 2020 provincial budget. Furthermore, businesses will also be able to defer their non-residential education property tax amounts for 6 months, until October 2020. It should be noted that this is a deferral—which would need to be repaid in future tax years—with repayment plans currently under development.

Recognizing that many businesses may not be property owners, commercial landlords are being encouraged to pass this savings on to their tenants through reduced or deferred payments. We would therefore encourage business owners to reach out to their landlords to discuss their lease agreements and any possible reduction in payments.

Widespread relief of WCB premiums has also been announced for Alberta businesses. All 2020 premiums will now be deferred until 2021, with additional support being provided to small and medium-sized businesses.

Businesses with $10 million or less in insurable earnings for 2020 will be classified as small and medium-sized private sector employers and will be eligible for a 50% reduction in their 2020 premiums when they become payable in 2021.The remaining 50% will be covered by the provincial government. Any large businesses with insurable earnings over $10 million will be required to repay the deferred premiums in 2021.

Any premiums that have already been paid by businesses will be refunded to them automatically; there is no need to call and request either the deferral or the refund. It is also worth noting that interest will not be incurred on any deferred amounts and that neither future premium rates nor employee coverage will be affected.

Small commercial customers, as well as residential and farm customers, may also be eligible for a 90-day deferral of certain utility payments. This deferral is targeted towards those experiencing financial hardship as a result of COVID-19, but there is no indication that any specific requirements (i.e. self-isolation) need to have been met in order to access the deferral. Further information can be obtained through your natural gas or electricity provider.

Provincial credit unions, as well as the Alberta Treasury Branch will also be providing support to business owners.

These announcements come after the federal government announced last week that it would be working with Canada’s banks to provide businesses and individuals with deferral of mortgage payments for up to 6 months, as well as by providing $10 billion in addition financing through Export Development Canada and the Business Development Bank of Canada, with a large portion of funding being directed towards small and medium-sized businesses. Business members of credit unions are being encouraged to contact their credit union directly to work out a personalized plan, while ATB Financials’ small business customers can apply for a payment deferral on loans and lines of credit for up to 6 months, as well as obtain access to additional working capital. Further support may also be provided on an as-needed basis so we would encourage business owners to speak with their banks to determine what support may be available based on their personal situation.

Government support is also being provided to employees who are required to self-isolate, or who are caring for a dependant who is required to self-isolate. This support will come in the form of a one-time payment of $1,146 and is intended to bridge the gap until federal emergency payments begin in April. It is expected that Albertans will be able to apply for this support later this week through alberta.ca. Albertans with provincial student loans will also see a 6-month pause to their loan repayments beginning March 30, 2020. The pause will be automatic, and interest will not accrue during the 6-month period.

As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses have been forced to provide layoffs to their employees. As the situation is changing rapidly it is imperative to be aware of the COVID-19 related government programs, Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, and work-sharing programs.

For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID’s impact, the Government is introducing an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.

The Emergency Support Benefit is available to workers not eligible for EI. This benefit is for workers who face unemployment or reduced hours due to the economic impact of COVID-19. It will provide up to 14 weeks of support and will be comparable to EI.

It is expected that this benefit will also be administered through the CRA’s website and that the application will open on April 6, 2020. The government will provide additional details about this benefit in the coming days.

Eligible working Albertans can receive a one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 if they:

  • Experienced total or significant loss of income as a result of having to self-isolate, or are the sole caregiver of a dependent who is self-isolating; and
  • Have no other source of compensation, such as workplace sick leave benefits or federal employment insurance benefits.
  • Sickness (Code D) – zero waiting period
  • Temporary (Shortage of work - Code A) – one week waiting period
  • Permanent (Code E) – one week waiting period
  • Leave of Absence (Code N) – one week waiting period
  • Record of employment for a temporary layoff will use the Code A (Shortage of work).
  • There is a one week waiting period to be paid benefits.
  • The maximum duration of a temporary layoff is 60 days within a 120-day period. After this the employer must pay termination pay. On the 61st day of a temporary layoff, the employee’s employment is considered to be ended, and the employer must pay termination pay.
  • Vacation pay/time is not required to be pay out with a temporary layoff. Ask the employee if they would like this paid out. It is important that they understand that if they receive vacation pay when they are on EI the EI will be clawed back.
  • Notice of the temporary layoff must be in writing and state that it’s a temporary layoff notice and the effective date; and
  • Notice to be provided:
    • At least one-week notice must be given if the employee has been employed for less than 2 years.
    • At least two weeks notice must be given if the employee has been employed by the employer for 2 years or more; and
    • If there are unforeseeable circumstances (such as COVID-19), employers are required to provide as much notice as possible. Employees are entitled to proper notice. The timing of the notice may vary if unforeseeable circumstances occur (such as COVID-19).
  • Record of employment for a Sickness leave will use the Code D (Sickness).
  • There is a zero-waiting period to be paid benefits.
  • Maximum duration for the sickness leave is 15 weeks; and
  • The Government has detailed that they are waiving the medical note that is typically required for individuals who are required to go into quarantine or self-isolation. Should the quarantine or isolation be required to be extended there may be the requirement for a medical certificate.