Pandemic Relief: Provincial Support

Evelyn Jacks & Beth Graddon

The province of Ontario postponed its formal multi-year budget forecast to November 15 yesterday, choosing instead to use the earlier-announced budget date of March 25 to table a COVID-19 fiscal action plan. The details are comprehensive, as is our round-up of provincial measures for businesses so far. There are some generous and genuinely interesting provisions. Take a look:


  • Two Week Business Closures.  Non-essential businesses were closed as of March 25 for two weeks.  A toll free line is available if you have questions about this (1-888-444-3659).   Please consult the list of essential servicesfor more information.   
  • Tax payment relief.  5 months of interest and penalty relief for business to file and make payments for the majority of provinially administered taxes.  This includes missed remittances for the following taxes starting on April 1, 2020 and continuing for five months to August 31, 2020:
    •  Beer, Wine and Spirits Taxes;
    •  Employer Health Tax; 
    • Fuel Tax;
    • Gas Tax; 
    • Insurance Premium Tax;
    • International Fuel Tax Agreement;
    • Mining Tax;
    • Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts and Benefit Plans; and 
    • Race Tracks Tax.
    • Tobacco Tax.
  • Employer Health Tax Exemption.  There will be a temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax exemption, which is expected to  reduce taxes for 57,000 employers in the province.  The current exemption level of $490,000 will be increased to $1 Million for 2020 and return to the current level on January 1, 2021.  It is estimated the additional EHT relief will be worth $9,945 per eligible employer.  
  • Elecrticity Cost Relief.   The province announced a $5.6 billion for electricity cost relief programs in 2020-21 to help residential, farm and small business consumers. Lowest off-peak rates will apply 24 hours a day for 45 days until mid May.
  • Corporate Income Tax Credit and Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit. This refundable tax credit will help support regions with lagging employment growth.  The creditis  10%  of eligible capital investments.  
  • Education Property Tax Deferral.  Deferring the quarterly remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days so municipalities can provide property tax deferrals to residents and businesses.
  • WSIB deferrals.  The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board covers 5 million people in Ontario. Businesses will be able to take advantage of financial relief by deferring premiums that are expected to average $1760 for about 275,000 of the 300,000 workplaces subject to paying them.    

p> In other provinces . What are invidudal provinces doing to help businesses and their workers through the pandemic? These measures, presented through emergency bills, fiscal updates, and other policies supplement those put in place by the federal government.

British Columbia

  • $2.2 billion financial relief package for businesses
  • Businesses with payroll over $5,000 can defer employer health tax payments until September 30, 2020
  • April 1 provincial carbon tax increase delayed
  • New PST registration requirements for e-commerce delayed
  • Tax filing and payment deadlines (including PST) deferred until September 30, 2020


  •  Corporate income tax balances and instalment payments postponed until August 31
  • Small commercial businesses can postpone payment of electricity and natural gas payments for 90 days
  • Small businesses can apply to defer loans and lines of credits for up to 6 months.
  • Additional working capital available to small businesses through ATB Financial.
  • Provincial portion of taxes on non-residential property taxes deferred for 6 months.
  • Increase to education property tax proposed in 2020 budget reversed.
  • Workers Compensation Board Premium changes for all businesses: private-sector business payments deferred until the end of the year.
  • SMEs only have to pay half of their 2020 Workers Compensation Board premiums, the government covers the remaining half. Employers who have already paid can request a refund or credit.


  • Three-month provincial sales tax remittance postponement and audit suspension.
  • No penalties or interest for businesses that can’t pay PST.


  • Businesses given the option to defer payment of payroll taxes and PST remittance up to $10,000 for 60 days.
  • Above the $10,000 cap, the province promises to work with businesses of all sizes with flexible options.

New Brunswick

  • March 19 State of Emergency, all non-essential businesses closed.
  • Business property taxes still due May 31. The procvince will review late penalties on a case-by-case basis to determine if they can be waived.
  • Banks discussing solutions and relief with small businesses

Newfoundland and Labrador

  • March 18, declared a public health emergency under Public Health Protection and Promotion act. Public businesses such as bars, gyms, areas and libraries closed.

Nova Scotia

  • SMEs can access $161 million in relief measures. Government loans and business fees deferred until the end of June. Specifically, all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia. Small business fees, including business renewal fees and workers compensation premiums will also be deferred.
  • The Small Business Loans Guarantee Program will be enhanced to make it easier to access credit up to $500,000. For those who may not qualify for a loan, the government wil guarantee the first $100,000.
  • Payments and interest on loans under the Jobs Fund, Housing Nova Scotia and Municipal Finance Corporation deferred until the end of June.
  • Businesses that do business with government will be paid in five days instead of 30.
  • Student loan payments will be suspended for six months to September 30


  • $25 million contingency fund to support resident workers. Support line for businesses: 1-866-222-1751


  • $2.5 billion pledged to help companies.
  •  Low-interest and loan guarantees of at least $50,000 available to businesses.
  • Non-essential businesses closed as of March 25 for three weeks.

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