CEBA extended to October 31st. Expanded to include more businesses.

On August 31st, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland announced the extension of the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to October 31st, 2020. This will give small businesses 2 additional months to apply for the $40,000 loan.

In addition, the Federal Government said it was working with financial institutions to make the CEBA program available to those with qualifying payroll or non-deferrable expenses that have so far been unable to apply due to not operating from a business banking account.

Apply online at the financial institution your business banks with:

Details of the EXPANDED Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

On August 11th, the Government of Canada updated the calculator and Canada.ca with the changes to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS).

If you’re a business owner who has suffered losses as a result of COVID-19 and did NOT qualify previously for CEWS, you may now qualify.

The changes expand the program to include more businesses for periods 5 to 9 (July 5 to November 21, 2020) and have been published on Canada.ca, here are some of the changes:

  • the subsidy rate varies, depending on how much your revenue dropped

  • if your revenue drop was less than 30% you can still qualify, and keep getting the subsidy as employees return to work and your revenue recovers

  • employers who were hardest hit over a period of three months get a higher amount

  • employees who were unpaid for 14 or more days can now be included in your calculation

  • use the current period’s revenue drop or the previous period’s, whichever works in your favour

    • for periods 5 and 6, if your revenue dropped at least 30%, your subsidy rate will be at least 75%

  • even if your revenue has not dropped for the claim period, you can still qualify if your average revenue over the previous three months dropped more than 50%

  • the maximum base subsidy rate is 60% in claim periods 5 and 6

  • the maximum base subsidy rate will begin to decline in claim period 7, gradually reducing to 20% in period 9

The Government of Canada has updated the CEWS calculator to reflect these changes and can be found here:

The Calm Before the Storm?

Is the Storm upon us? In mid March we sent out a market commentary with our analysis of the market situation at the time, and our outlook going forward. The biggest story at the time was obviously the Covid-19 situation, but there were a couple of other factors at play, such as profit taking and the ‘oil war’. We had anticipated that there would be some continued downward pressure in the 2nd quarter, which there has been, and anticipated that things would start to look more positive in the 3rd and 4th quarter.

Since our last commentary, we’ve seen an overall bounce-back from mid-March, which saw markets plummet as much as 40% or so. Several markets around the world have recouped much of their losses, with the U.S. leading the way – many still have quite a way to go, however. It seems that a big chunk of the gains since our lows in March in the U.S. have been from the tech side of things, but there hasn’t been as much momentum in other sectors. This has been more of a ‘tech rally’, as opposed to an overall ‘market rally’. It seems like that downward pressure has continued in most global economies as the world still works to combat the virus. Much of what we had anticipated had come to fruition, with things like stimulus packages being announced, forms of quantitative easing, rate cuts, etc…, all helping to move the markets up.

That being said, in the last 4 months there have been multiple events that have caused us to update our outlook and our recommendations going forward.

2nd Wave & Lockdowns

In March, there was virtually no talk or indication about a ‘2nd wave’ of the virus coming. That is understandable, as the ‘1st wave’ had just started and the world was still learning about the virus and how to deal with it. Over the last couple of months, we’ve heard increased talks about the ‘2nd wave’ that is said to be coming some time in the fall. If this does happen, it would likely cause a ‘2nd wave’ of lockdowns to be implemented. Over the last couple of months, we’ve seen cities/provinces/states/countries gradually re-opening their economies and people trying to get back to somewhat of a ‘normal’ life. Going back into lockdowns, which we see as probable if a 2nd wave does hit, would be devastating for already fragile economies, and by extension, the markets. Recessionary fears, which we’ve already heard talk about, would likely become a reality.

There are certain jurisdictions who still have substantial limitations on how and when they can ‘open their economies’, and a 2nd wave would essentially extend those existing lockdowns, or cause even more restrictions. Unemployment would likely go through the roof (again) and a good chunk of the population would be under a tremendous amount of pressure, financially (and psychologically).

Social Unrest

Unless you’ve completely unplugged from all media/society, we’ve all heard about and seen the protests and riots – mostly in the U.S., but also in Canada to some extent. The killing of George Floyd caused major backlash against police and by extension, the government, and we’ve seen essentially 2 months straight massive social unrest in multiple cities, specifically in the U.S. Although there have been peaceful protests, that has largely been overshadowed by the violent riots that have, and continue to take place in multiple cities around the country. Calls for defunding and abolishing police departments altogether have caused police in some jurisdictions to be target of scrutiny, harassment and violence. Many officers have even walked off the job citing little or no support from their municipalities – conversely, crime such as violence/murder/theft in those cities has skyrocketed and it doesn’t look like it’s getting any better at the moment. Rioters have also essentially shut down entire sections of cities and have caused massive amounts of damage, violence and looting. Businesses are suffering and those local economies are feeling the hurt.

We anticipate many of the social unrest to continue, and potentially even intensify, leading up to the elections. Not only does this directly impact local businesses/economies, it also creates a huge amount of risk when it comes to the spread of Covid-19. The resulting violence and destruction also causes law enforcement and health care to be drastically overwhelmed, which can exponentially increase all problems mentioned above. Not only will there be a hefty bill for cities/municipalities in regards to cleaning up the mess and repairing damages caused by the protests/riots, but there will likely be legal action taken against local and state officials by local residents and businesses for lack of response, and in come cases, encouraging/condoning the mayhem. These things would have further downward pressure on local economies, and by extension, the markets.

Government Debt

This should come as no surprise to anybody. Governments have been piling up massive amounts of debt due to stimulus packages and other benefits provided to both its citizens as well as businesses. Spending even before Covid-19 was worrisome, but the exponential increase in new spending added has gone out of control. Canada’s debt rating recently was downgraded by one of the major rating agencies and that may not be the end of it. At some point, the bill has to be paid, and no doubt it will be a situation of ‘The Tax Man Cometh’. The inevitable outcome is that taxes will rise for all – the federal government is already looking at certain mechanisms to generate additional revenue, such as implementing a capital gains tax on primary residence, increasing the capital gains inclusion rate on investments (from 50% to 75% or more) and adding an inheritance tax. All these mechanisms will have adverse effects on Canadians and their ability to save and spend, causing further downward pressure on the economy.

Unless governments get their spending under control, which seems unlikely at this point, we are in for a whole bunch of hurt. It would likely take years to actually get into some sort of surplus (which mostly would have to come from spending cuts) and decades to get the debt under control. At this point, having Cash is definitely King.

Foreign Affairs

There are multiple foreign issues currently at play here, a couple of which have been carrying over for the last few of years. Among the most dominant issues currently from a global perspective is the ongoing dispute between the U.S. and China. The trade dispute has been going on for a while, but it seems to have progressed into espionage/security issues and even the blame game on the Covid-19 virus. Tensions have been increasing with each country demanding the other to close one of their consulates – the U.S. ordering China to close its consulate in Houston, and China ordering the U.S. to close its consulate in Chengdu, China. This past weekend President Trump had also issued an order to TikTok (the social media platform that allows for the creation and sharing of videos/content) to sell its U.S. operations, again citing ‘security’ concerns of the app feeding information back to the Chinese government – other softwares such as Zoom have also been under scrutiny for similar issues. The power struggle between the 2 countries doesn’t seem like it’s going away any time soon, and it will likely put some more pressure on the stock market, as things continue to intensify.

At the risk of getting too political, there are other major issues happening within the U.S. itself – some more at the forefront than others. The obvious one is the ongoing issue with Jeffrey Epstein (who had a very mysterious death last year) and Ghislaine Maxwell – who had recently been taken into custody by the FBI. Although the plot somewhat seems like a Hollywood movie, the outcome of this can have drastic consequences for the entire U.S. political system, as there is suspicion that multiple top level U.S. politicians, both current and previous, may have been involved in some very dirty business. Time will tell, but many fear the testimony of, and information provided by, Ghislaine Maxwell may expose many top level officials and open a can of worms into the dealings of some of these individuals.

Another issue that is somewhat lurking in the background is the Hillary Clinton e-mail scandal. Although many thought this was over and done with, it has continued to move forward, with Clinton being ordered by a judge to appear in court and testify at a deposition in relation to her use of a private email server, while she was working as the Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013. The timing of this testimony is vital, as it is in September, just 2 months before the election. Depending on what is said in the testimony, it may implicate former and current top level politicians, which will throw a wrench into the entire election landscape. Markets would likely react negatively, as generally they don’t like uncertainty and mayhem, especially right before an election.

Our Outlook & Recommendations

As you may have guessed, we are being very cautious, at least for the short term, as there seems to be too much risk on the horizon. Although there will always be uncertainty in the markets, it seems in our current environment there are too many things going on at the same time which have caused risk to skyrocket.

We know it is almost impossible to time the markets accurately (when to get in and when to get out), but this may be a time to sit on the sidelines and just let things play out. We are recommending to most of our clients to take a defensive position – this would mean either moving into a very conservative portfolio or just straight into cash. Being in a low risk conservative portfolio would still mean exposure to the market – this would allow you to participate somewhat in market gains, if there are any, but would also expose you to losses if the market went down. Going into cash would mean that your principal is maintained and there is no upside or downside capture of the markets. At this point, cash would be the most secure.

We generally are not fans of trying to time the market, but if looking at the ‘cost-benefit analysis’, we feel, at this point, the ‘cost’ (risk) is too great for the potential ‘benefit’ (returns) that would be had by staying in the markets. We feel that being defensive until at least the elections are over – more likely into the new year – is the reasonable action to take right now.

In order to make the changes, please reach out and you will be guided on what to do next.

As the situation progresses and evolves, if there are other factors that come into play that cause us to shift our outlook, you will be kept informed.

For any other questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to reach out.

CERB Extended | Business Owners who did not qualify previously – expanded CEBA starts June 19th

CERB Extended 2 more months

Great news for Canadians out of work and looking for work. The CERB will be extended another 8 weeks for a total of up to 24 weeks.

As the country begins to restart the economy, the Federal government will be making changes to the program to encourage Canadians receiving the benefit to get people back on the job. From Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s website:

“The Government of Canada introduced the CERB to immediately help workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, so they could continue to put food on the table and pay their bills during this challenging time. As we begin to restart the economy and get people back on the job, Canadians receiving the benefit should be actively seeking work opportunities or planning to return to work, provided they are able and it is reasonable to do so.

That is why the government will also make changes to the CERB attestation, which will encourage Canadians receiving the benefit to find employment and consult Job Bank, Canada’s national employment service that offers tools to help with job searches.”

More small businesses can apply for CEBA $40,000 no-interest loans

Applications for the expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be accepted as of Friday, June 19th, 2020. Small businesses that are:

“… owner-operated small businesses that had been ineligible for the program due to their lack of payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll will become eligible this week.”

Apply online at the financial institution your business banks with:

There are restrictions on the funds can be used. From their website https://ceba-cuec.ca/:

“The funds from this loan shall only be used by the Borrower to pay non-deferrable operating expenses of the Borrower including, without limitation, payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax and regularly scheduled debt service, and may not be used to fund any payments or expenses such as prepayment/refinancing of existing indebtedness, payments of dividends, distributions and increases in management compensation.”

Small Businesses! Applications for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance starts May 25th

Lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19

The Application portal for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) opens at 8:00am EST on May 25th. The description from the CMHC website:

“Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers unsecured, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to:

  • reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants

  • 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.”

Application Dates

Due to expected high volumes of applications, the application dates will be as follows:

  • Monday – Property owners who are located in Atlantic Canada, BC, Alberta and Quebec, with up to 10 tenants who are eligible for the program

  • Tuesday – Property owners who are located in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Territories, with up to 10 tenants who are eligible for the program

  • Wednesday – All other property owners in Manitoba, Saskatchewan, Ontario and the Territories

  • Thursday – All other property owners in Atlantic Canada, BC, Alberta and Quebec

  • Friday – All

Eligibility

From the CMHC website:

“To qualify for CECRA for small businesses, the commercial property owner must:

  • own commercial real property* which is occupied by one or more impacted small business tenants

  • enter (or have already entered) into a legally binding rent reduction agreement for the period of April, May and June 2020, reducing an impacted small business tenant’s rent by at least 75%

  • ensure the rent reduction agreement with each impacted tenant includes:

    • a moratorium on eviction for the period during which the property owner agrees to apply the loan proceeds, and  

    • a declaration of rental revenue included in the attestation

The commercial property owner is not and is not controlled by an individual holding federal or provincial political office.

CECRA will not apply to any federal-, provincial-, or municipal-owned properties, where the government is the landlord of the small business tenant.

Exceptions

  • Where there is a long-term lease to a First Nation, or Indigenous organization or government, the First Nation or Indigenous organization or government is eligible for CECRA for small businesses as a property owner.

  • Where there are long-term commercial leases with third parties to operate the property (for example, airports), the third party is eligible as the property owner.

  • Also eligible are post-secondary institutions, hospitals, and pension funds, as well as crown corporations with limited appropriations designated as eligible under CECRA for small businesses.

NOTE: Small businesses that opened on or after March 1, 2020 are not eligible.

* We define commercial Real Property as a commercial property with small business tenants. Commercial properties with a residential component and multi-unit residential mixed-use properties would equally be eligible with respect to their small business tenants.

NOTE: Properties with or without a mortgage are eligible under CECRA for small businesses.

What is an impacted small business tenant?

Impacted small business tenants are businesses — including non-profit and charitable organizations — that:

  • pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location (as defined by a valid and enforceable lease agreement)

  • generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, calculated on a consolidated basis (at the ultimate parent level)

  • have experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues **

NOTE: Eligible small business tenants who are in sub-tenancy arrangements are also eligible, if these lease structures meet program criteria.

** Small businesses can compare revenues in April, May and June of 2020 to that of the same period in 2019 to measure revenue losses. They can also use an average of their revenues earned in January and February of 2020.

For Full Details and to apply:

Expanded eligibility for CEBA $40,000 interest-free loan

“If you are the sole owner-operator of a business, if your business relies on contractors, or if you have a family-owned business and you pay employees through dividends, you will now qualify.” – PM Justin Trudeau

Eligibility

The Prime Minister outlined the expanded eligibility for the Canada Emergency Business Account and highlighted companies such as hair salon owners, independent gym owners with contracted trainers and local physio businesses will now be eligible.  

The eligible amounts are being expanded to include businesses with 2019 total payroll between $20,000 – $1.5 million.

How do I apply?

Prior to applying, please make sure you have this information readily available:

  • Canada Revenue Agency Business Number (BN 15 digits)

  • 2019 T4 Summary of Remuneration Paid (T4SUM)

Apply online at the financial institution your business banks with:

There are restrictions on the funds can be used. From their website https://ceba-cuec.ca/:

“The funds from this loan shall only be used by the Borrower to pay non-deferrable operating expenses of the Borrower including, without limitation, payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax and regularly scheduled debt service, and may not be used to fund any payments or expenses such as prepayment/refinancing of existing indebtedness, payments of dividends, distributions and increases in management compensation.”

Apply starting Friday for Canada Emergency Student Benefit! Help on the way for seniors.

Students can apply for $1,250 through the Canada Emergency Student Benefit starting Friday

From canada.ca:

“The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) provides financial support to post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19.

This benefit is for students who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance (EI).

From May to August 2020, the CESB provides a payment to eligible students of:

  • $1,250 for each 4-week period

  • $2,000 for each 4 -week period, if you have dependants or a disability”

Seniors to receive up to $500 one-time payment

The Government of Canada will be providing help to vulnerable seniors by providing a one-time tax-free payment of $300 for seniors eligible for Old Age Security (OAS). For seniors eligible for the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS), they will receive an additional $200.

Extended! Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy extended beyond June

On May 8th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced that they will extend the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) beyond June. This measure gives qualifying employers up to $847 per employee each week so they can keep people on the payroll.

Eligibility

To be eligible to receive the wage subsidy, the Government of Canada website states you must:

  • be an eligible employer. Eligible employers include:

    • individuals (including trusts)

    • taxable corporations

    • persons that are exempt from corporate tax (Part I of the Income Tax Act), other than public institutions:

      • non-profit organizations

      • agricultural organizations

      • boards of trade

      • chambers of commerce

      • non-profit corporations for scientific research and experimental development

      • labour organizations or societies

      • benevolent or fraternal benefit societies or orders

    • registered charities

    • partnerships consisting of eligible employers

    Public institutions are not eligible for the subsidy. This includes municipalities and local governments, Crown corporations, public universities, colleges, schools and hospitals.

  • have experienced an eligible reduction in revenue.

  • have had a CRA payroll account on March 15, 2020

Online Calculator

The Canada Revenue Agency launched an online calculator to help businesses determine the amount they can expect from the wage subsidy program.  

75% Commercial Rent Assistance Program

On April 24th, the Federal Government in partnership with the provinces and territories unveiled the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance which provides rent relief to businesses.

“I can announce that we’ve reached agreements with all provinces and territories to lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been strongly affected by COVID-19 for April, May and June” – PM Justin Trudeau

From Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s website:

“The government is also providing further details on the program:

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June. 

  • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.

  • Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.”

What if I have no revenue and can’t pay the remaining 25%?

For businesses who are unable to pay the remaining 25%, they should apply for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) through their bank which provides a $40,000 interest-free loan until Dec 31, 2022. $10,000 (25%) of the $40,000 loan is eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is repaid on or before December 31, 2022.

Canada Emergency Student Benefit: Students will be eligible for $1,250 a month from May through August

Canada Emergency Student Benefit – $1,250/month from May through August or $1,750/month for those taking care of someone else or have a disability

Great news for students worried about financially making ends meet. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit which provides $1,250/month from May through August or $1,750/month for those taking care of someone else or have a disability.

“Right now you might be worried about how to make ends meet. You probably can’t work your normal job and that might be a big problem for rent or for groceries. So we’re bringing in the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) to help. With this benefit you’ll get $1,250 a month from May to August and if you take care of someone else or have a disability that amount will go up to $1,750 each month” – PM Justin Trudeau

On eligibility, the Prime Minister added:

“This benefit is designed for you. If you’re a post-secondary student right now. If you’re going to college in September or if you graduated in December 2019. It’s there for you even if you have a job but you’re only making up to $1,000 a month. The period for the benefit will start on May 1st and your payments will be delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency.”

Canada Student Service Grant – $1,000 to $5,000 to support students helping fight against COVID-19

For students looking to volunteer to help fight COVID-19, the Canada Student Service Grant provides $1,000 to $5,000:

“Of course the paying job isn’t the only valuable way to spend your summer. Volunteering can be a fantastic way to build skills, make contacts or just give back. If you are volunteering instead of working we’re going to make sure that you have support too. Students helping in the fight against COVID-19 this summer will soon be eligible for $1,000 to $5,000 depending on your hours through the new Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG). Your energy and your skills can do a lot of good right now” – PM Justin Trudeau

Details of these programs will be posted on the Government of Canada website. Keep checking their website for more details: