Advocacy and Policy Updates

2020 Canadian Advocacy, Legislation and Policy Updates


July 29, 2020 Update

Bill C-20 — the bill extending the federal government's emergency wage subsidy for employers passed unanimously through the Senate earlier this week.

The package passed by the House of Commons last week also includes one-time payments for people with disabilities facing higher expenses, and extensions to legal deadlines for some court matters that the pandemic has affected.

The Bill also made significant changes to the structure of the wage subsidy program. Effective July 7th, the wage subsidy program will now consist of two parts:

  • A base subsidy available to all eligible employers that are experiencing a decline in revenues in each qualifying period, with the subsidy amount varying depending on the scale of revenue decline; and

  • a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% for those employers that have been hit the hardest by the crisis.

The maximum base CEWS rate would be provided to employers with a revenue drop of 50% or more, up to a maximum weekly benefit of $677 per employee. The government also introduced a ‘Safe Harbour’ clause to ensure that for the next 2 periods (period 5 & 6) employers would have access to a CEWS rate that is as generous as the rate they would have qualified for under the initial CEWS structure. That is, if an employer experiences a revenue decline of 30% or more in periods 5 and 6, they would still be entitled to at 75% wage subsidy.

NAFA advocated heavily for the wage subsidy to be extended through the recovery and accessible by all employers experiencing a decline in revenue due to COVID-19. The new changes are good for all employers and NAFA members.
We will continue to monitor any new development on the Canadian government response to the global pandemic.

 

July 1, 2020 Update

As of last week, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) has been expanded to include owner-operated small businesses that do not have a payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll.  The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides up to $40,000 to small-businesses and not-for-profits. The loan is available through small businesses’ primary financial institutions. The program provides loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10K) if the loan is repaid before December 31, 2022. Those applicants will still have to demonstrate having eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1,500,000 in 2020. The program is also being made available to more than 230 financial institutions, including credit unions and community-based financial institutions.

This is great news for those small businesses and commercial fleets that could not access the program previously due to the restrictive requirements around payroll. NAFA has worked diligently over the last couple of weeks to ensure that fleets across Canada have access to the support they need throughout the crisis and the recovery period.

 

June 17, 2020 Update

The federal government has extended the Canada Emergency Benefit (CERB) by eight weeks to September amid the coronavirus pandemic. As the economy reopens, the CERB will continue to provide support to Canadians who struggle to find employment. A draft bill was recently introduced in the House of Commons to tighten the rules around the admissibility for the benefit. The Bill did not pass, however, the federal has indicated that Canadians will be encouraged to look for jobs and go back to work when possible.

The CERB was originally introduced for a period of four months ending in July to support Canadians who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19. If eligible, employees can receive $2,000 for a four-week period (the same as $500 a week).

The Federal government has also extended the closure of the Canada-U.S. border to July 21st to non-essential travel. Both countries reached an agreement in March to temporarily close the border to non-essential travel — meaning no recreational visits — while keeping it open to commercial traffic and essential workers who cross the border for work and has already extended the deal twice so far.


May 13, 2020 Update

The federal commercial rent relief program has launched earlier this week. The program is aimed at providing a rent reduction to small businesses struggling during the COVID-19 crisis. It offers unsecured, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants and to meet operating expenses on commercial properties. Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May and June 2020 in order to qualify for the program.

Small businesses must show a decline of at least 70% and generate less than $20 million in gross annual revenues to qualify. The government has encouraged all eligible property owners to apply for the program. Those businesses who qualify should seek this relief from their landlords.
For more information on the program, please consult the CMHC website here.
 
The federal government has also created a regional relief and recovery fund to help more businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and to local economies. This fund is specifically targeted to those that may require additional help to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been unable to access existing support measures. Close to $1 billion was allocated to the regional development agencies for the program.

 

May 13, 2020 Update


As provinces across Canada are gearing up for reopening the economy, the federal government is also shifting its focus to the recovery. Earlier this week, the Prime Minister announced a new financing facility for larger businesses impacted by COVID-19. The new program, called the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF), will provide short-term bridge financing large employers that are unable to secure loans from banks and other private lenders.

The program is aimed at providing support to companies with $300 million or more in annual revenues and that are seeking financing of least $60 million to bridge the gap and during the recovery.

The LEEFF program will be open to large for-profit businesses sector as well as certain not-for-profit businesses, such as airports, with annual revenues generally in the order of $300 million or higher.

The program is part of the long-promised support to the airlines, hospitality, tourism and oil and gas sectors that have been particularly hard-hit by COVID-19. The government indicated that the program is meant to support companies that have a large footprint in Canada and is not intended to bail-out businesses that were already in financial trouble before the crisis.

The government will also require that eligible businesses disclose their environment and sustainability plans to qualify for the loans.

In the same spirit of recovery, the federal government has extended the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) beyond June endpoint to facilitate economic revival and provide assistance to businesses and workers post-crisis.
 

 

April 29, 2020 Update


As the number of new reported cases seems to be steadily declining, jurisdictions across Canada are releasing their plan to gradually and safely reopen the economy.

This week, after the first ministers meeting the federal government, has issued a national set of principles that will guide restarting the economy.  

 
 

Ontario


Earlier this week, the government of Ontario released a plan to gradually open the economy in the province. The plan is laid out in a series of stages, which the provincial government has called a roadmap to ensure a safe return to normal life. Note that dates have been attached to each stage.

Ontario public health authorities will consider a number of criteria before easing public health restrictions including a consistent two-to-four week decrease in the number of new daily COVID-19 cases.

 

Quebec


Quebec’s plan to reopen the economy is a little more aggressive than in Ontario. A number of businesses outside of Montreal including construction, retail stores with outdoor entrance and factories, will be allowed to open as early as May 4.

Those in Montreal will do so the following week on May 11. The province has estimated that the risk is currently low for these businesses. Other businesses will be permitted to reopen as the number of cases in the province continues to decline.

The automobile dealerships in the province would among the group of businesses reopening their doors to the public in a few weeks. Quebec is also the first province in the country to reopen elementary schools.


 

Saskatchewan


Last week, the province of Saskatchewan has unveiled a phased plan to reopen the economy. The Premier, Scott Moe, has said that the province has succeeded in flattening the curve of the virus and that the economy will start opening gradually in May.

The first phase is reopening medical services previously banned under the current public health order as early as May 4. This includes access to dentistry, optometry, physical therapy, opticians, podiatry, occupational therapy and chiropractic treatment.

Other phases will include the opening of seasonal businesses, low risk outdoor activities and some retail stores. 

 

April 15, 2020 Update


A 75% wage subsidy for all business, regardless of size and the number of employees, for up to 3 months, is retroactive to March 15, 2020. All businesses experiencing a decline of at least 15% of revenue in March and 30% in April and May as a result of COVID-19 will be eligible. The legislation to implement this new program has passed in the House of Commons over the Easter weekend. Funding would be available in the six weeks and businesses can apply through a Canada Revenue Agency’s online portal.

 

GST and HST remittances deferred to June, as well as customs duties owed for imports.

This measure will ease businesses cash flow challenges during this crisis and applies to:

 
  • Monthly filers for amounts collected in February, March and April
  • Quarterly filers for amounts collected between January 1 and March 31
  • Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalment are due in March, April or May

The work-sharing program has been temporarily amended as a result of COVID-19 to facilitate access to businesses.

These changes include:

 
  • Extension of the maximum duration from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. 
  • The 30 cooling-off period will be waived for only those who have used the work-sharing program in the past. 
  • Businesses can now see their application being accepted within 10 days instead of 30.
 
Launch of new Canada Emergency Business Account, which will provide up to $40,000 interest-free loans guaranteed for 1 year. To qualify, businesses will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. The government is offering a loan forgiveness program of 25 percent if the balance on the loan is repaid before December 31, 2022.
  
  • Launch of the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank. 
  • EDC will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans that financial institutions extend to small and medium-sized businesses, up to $6.25 million. Export sectors and domestic businesses would be eligible.
  • BDC and financial institutions will co-lend amounts up to $6.5 million to small and medium-sized businesses.
 
For additional details on these programs, please consult the NAFA Canadian Webinar.

 

March 31, 2020 Update

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19) ECONOMIC RESPONSE UPDATE


On Friday, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced a series of new measures increasing support for businesses and workers across Canada. A key highlight from the announcement is the increase of the wage subsidy from 10% to 75% as recommended by the business community and NAFA over the past couple of weeks. The supports announced so far are excellent tools to help businesses cope with the current crisis, stay open and keep their employees on the payroll.  
This is very good news for all small and medium-sized businesses and commercial fleets in Canada. 
The government is finalizing the details around the measures announced and we will continue updating the Canadian fleet managers as this unfolds.
 
KEY POINTS FROM THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT STIMULUS PACKAGE FOR NAFA MEMBERS

 
  • Increase from 10% to 75% wage subsidy for small and medium-sized businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. All businesses experiencing a decline of at least 30% of revenue as a result of COVID-19 will be eligible. More details will be announced around the wage subsidy program in the coming days.
  • GST and HST remittances deferred to June, as well as customs duties owed for imports. This measure will ease businesses cash flow challenges during this crisis and applies to:
  • Monthly filers for amounts collected in February, March and April
  • Quarterly filers for amounts collected between January 1 and March 31
  • Annual filers, whose GST/HST return or instalment are due in March, April or May 
  • Launch of new Canada Emergency Business Account, which will provide up to $40,000 interest-free loans guaranteed for 1 year. To qualify, businesses will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. The government is offering a loan forgiveness program of 25 percent if the balance on the loan is repaid before December 31, 2022 
  • Bank of Canada cut the overnight rate to 0.25% to increase credit availability and further stimulate the economy.
  • Launch of the new Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program that will enable up to $40 billion in lending, supported through Export Development Canada and Business Development Bank. 
  • EDC will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans that financial institutions extend to small and medium-sized businesses, up to $6.25 million. Export sectors and domestic businesses would be eligible.
  • BDC and financial institutions will co-lend amounts up to $6.5 million to small and medium-sized businesses.

March 26, 2020 Update


Given the ongoing situation related to the COVID-19 crisis and its impact on businesses and the economy as a whole, NAFA is working closely with the Federal Government Public Health Authorities, Finance Canada and the provincial governments to ensure we are providing up-to-date information to Government officials and have information to share with fleet managers.
 
The following link provides the most up-to-date information on what government support is available to businesses and Canadians on an ongoing basis: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses 
 
Please note that some of the announced measures only received Royal Assent this afternoon, and should be accessible in the very near future. NAFA also anticipates additional measures and plans to be announced in the coming days and weeks. NAFA will continue to represent your interests with government officials and decision-makers throughout this crisis. Please stay safe and let us know what more we can do to help.
 
Below is the list of announcements most relevant to NAFA members:

 
  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (these were previously announced as the “Emergency Support Benefit” and the “Emergency Care Benefit” that, as of today, have been combined into 1 benefit to allow Canadians to access the funds quicker): 
    • Provides up to $2,000 a month for the next four months to workers who aren’t receiving pay due to COVID-19. Those who have lost their job, contractors, self-employed, those who are sick, in quarantine, taking care of children or seniors all are covered.
    • Even if you still have a job but with no salary, you can receive the benefit.
    • All employees of a business, including the owner, are eligible.
    • Online portal for applications will be available soon and Canadians can receive the benefit within 10 days of applying, aiming to have portal ready by April 6th
  • Eliminating the payroll tax for three months by providing a 10% wage subsidy to small businesses;
  • Helping businesses with cash flow by deferring tax payments until August 31st;
  • Establishing a coordinated approach with the financial sector: cutting interest rates to 0.75%, and major banks increasing lending capacity by $300 billion; 
  • Establishing a Business Credit Availability Program through BDC and EDC worth $10 billion – providing more short-term loans, working capital, and export insurance-credit so that more Canadian businesses are supported.
  • Enhancing the Work-Sharing Program to help businesses pay wages so they don’t have to lay anyone off.
 
WHERE TO START
 
The following links provide the best place to start for fleet managers looking to access supports for themselves or employees.

These websites are: 

 
  1. Visit the website for businesses for information about supporting your employees and your business. It will be constantly updated as the COVID-19 crisis evolve.  
  2. Download the Canada Business App to find tailored supports to address your specific needs and questions about COVID-19. 
  3. Consult the Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s pandemic preparedness guide to help prepare your business in the days and weeks to come. 
 
More announcements will be made in the coming days and weeks, and NAFA continues to advocate for urgent measures to address immediate fleet and businesses needs. 
 
INDUSTRY SUPPORT
 
List of relevant and official information sources regarding COVID-19: 

   
GOVERNMENT updates and useful links: Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support for Canadians and Businesses 


 

March 20, 2020 Update

 

USMCA

Bill C4 - An Act to implement USMCA, has been passed by the Senate and received Royal Assent last week as Parliament suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic. This is good news for fleets on both sides of the border. At a time of volatility in the market and when our economy is currently facing significant challenges from COVID-19, it is important to increase certainty in the markets and in maintaining access to our closest trading partner.

 

Coronavirus COVID-19) economic response update

Earlier this week, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced a series of new measures to limit the spread of COVID-19 and to support businesses and workers affected by the global pandemic. These measures include the imminent closure of the Canada - US border to non-essential travel and a fiscal stimulus package of $82 billion to stabilize the economy.

 

The fiscal stimulus package includes $27 billion in direct supports to individuals and businesses and $55 billion to facilitate business access to liquidity through tax deferrals. Parliament will be recalled in the coming days to vote on the implementation of some of these measures.

 

These measures largely support those who lost their jobs by enriching the employment insurance program, those with children by increasing the child care benefit, and businesses experiencing cash flow issues by delaying tax remittances.

 

While this is a positive step in the right direction, the measures must be implemented immediately. NAFA, along with other industry partners, continues to advocate for targeted support directed at the industries directly affected by this unprecedented crisis. We have briefed government leaders on the massive commercial fleets and the auto industry. We also highlighted the need to exempt vehicle repair and maintenance facilities from mandatory closure across Canada as provinces and the federal government issue new restrictions to limit the spread and flatten the curve of COVID-19.

 

Key points from the federal government stimulus package for NAFA members
 

Support for businesses

  • 10% wage subsidy for small businesses up to $1,375 per employee, and $25,000 per business. This new benefit is available immediately to businesses for three months, through a reduction of the remittances of income tax withheld on employees’ remuneration.
  • CRA will allow businesses to defer income tax payments to September 2020
  • The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses (announced last week).
  • Credit and liquidity support through financial Crown corporations, Bank of Canada, OSFI, CMHC and commercial lenders (e.g., Domestic Stability Buffer, Insured Mortgage Purchase Program, Banker’s Acceptance Purchase Facility). These measures are effective immediately.
 

Support for workers

Introduction of the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks to support workers. This new benefit would be administered through the CRA and provide income support to:

  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • Workers, including 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.
  • 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 or not.
  • New emergency support benefit to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
  • EI Work Sharing Program
  • Tax filing due date deferred to June 1st from April 30th.
  • One-time special payment through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC) for low-income workers.


 

March 5, 2020 Update


USMCA

Bill C4 - An Act to implement USMCA, was studied by the House International Trade Committee and was referred to the Senate Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Trade without amendment. The Senate will also conduct a study and hear from witnesses before the Bill receives Royal Assent and the deal is fully ratified. NAFA supports the agreement in its current form and continues to advocate for the swift ratification of the deal by Parliamentarians. 
 
Pre-Budget Consultations 2020

The House Standing Committee on Finance recently completed its pre-budget consultations. They have heard from multiple witnesses, including NAFA, and made recommendations to the Minister of Finance. This year's pre-budget consultations’ theme was climate change. The Committee recommendations include an extension of the Federal Zero-emission vehicle (ZEV) rebate program for the next 3-5 years and expansion of the rebates to used ZEVs as well as investment in charging infrastructure across Canada.
 
Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP)

Natural Resources Canada (NRCan) is now accepting project proposals for funding consideration under the second stream of the Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP). This second RFP targets projects for electric vehicle charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs), workplaces and for light-duty vehicle fleets. 

The ZEVIP supports the deployment of a network of zero-emission vehicle chargers (Level 2 and higher) and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure across Canada. Funding would be available on a cost-sharing basis for strategic projects for electric vehicles and/or hydrogen infrastructure for corporate fleets, last-mile delivery fleets, and mass transit.

Fleet Managers that are interested in this excellent opportunity are invited to visit the NRCAN website and complete the online form.
Completed project proposals may be submitted to NRCAN no later than May 12, 2020. 

 

February 19, 2020 Update


Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP)

Natural Resources Canada (NRCAN) is now accepting project proposals for funding consideration under the second stream of the Zero-Emission Vehicle Infrastructure Program (ZEVIP). This second RFP targets projects for electric vehicle charging and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure in multi-unit residential buildings (MURBs), workplaces and for light-duty vehicle fleets. 

The ZEVIP supports the deployment of a network of zero-emission vehicle chargers (Level 2 and higher) and hydrogen refuelling infrastructure across Canada. Funding would be available on a cost-sharing basis for strategic projects for electric vehicles and/or hydrogen infrastructure for corporate fleets, last-mile delivery fleets, and mass transit.

Fleet Managers that are interested in this excellent opportunity are invited to visit NRCAN website and complete the online form.

Completed project proposals may be submitted to NRCAN no later than May 12, 2020. 
 
USMCA

Bill C4 - An Act to implement USMCA, has passed second reading and has been referred to the House International Trade Committee for further study. NAFA supports the agreement in its current form and continues to advocate for a quick ratification of the deal by Parliamentarians. 

 


February 5, 2020 Update


President Trump Signed USMCA into Law

President Trump signed USMCA into law last week, effectively completing the ratification process in the United States. Mexico has also fully ratified the deal. The last step on the road to full implementation is now the passage of the deal into law in Canada. The Canadian government has tabled the bill to ratify USMCA last week in the House of Commons. Members of Parliament will debate the ratification bill in the House over the next couple of weeks before it is submitted to vote. 

Deputy Prime Minister Chrystia Freeland, who presided over the talks that led to the new deal, urged the opposition parties to move quickly with enshrining the revamped treaty into law in order to provide certainty after years of nail-biting negotiations.

In the current minority dynamic, the Liberal government will require the support of at least one opposition party in order to support the deal. The Conservative Party — official opposition party — has signalled that they will support the agreement in its current form. Other opposition parties such as the Neo-Democrats have also indicated their potential support for the deal as long as the labour rules are enforced strongly. 
Time is of the essence; however, it could take over a year before the deal is fully implemented. When the ratification bill is passed into law by Parliament, the three signatories will take several months to develop regulations to interpret the deal’s provisions before rules finally take hold. That is why the government of Canada is pushing for quick ratification in Canada.

NAFA Canadian Legislative Counsel will continue to monitor closely and update the membership of any new development.

Read More via the New York Times article