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COVID-19 Government Support for Canadian IT Contractors

Last Update: April 20, 2021

Now a full year into the COVID-19 pandemic, here is an updated list of resources and supports offered by governments across Canada. We strongly recommend discussing these options with your accountant to ensure it will not negatively affect you come tax time.

Federal Government

The majority of support available is offered through the Federal Government and applications can be made online, through your CRA My Account, or else by phone at 1-800-959-2019 or 1-800-959-2041. You will need to verify your identity with your Social Insurance Number (SIN), postal code and date of birth.

Business Benefits Finder

This helpful tool can get you started. Answer questions including what kind of support you need, where you're located and details about your business, and the tool brings up a list of resources, benefits, subsidies and grants.

Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

Applications close June 30th, 2021

CEBA is an interest-free loan of up to $60,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 33 percent (up to $20,000). CEBA is available through more than 220 financial institutions across Canada and eligible businesses can apply after opening a business chequing or operating account with their primary financial institution.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

The Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to small and medium enterprises, for their operational cash flow requirements. The program offers differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues. Eligibility has been extended to all legal businesses.

Employment Insurance Benefits and Leave

There are temporary changes in effect for EI until September 25, 2021.

  • The waiting period may be waived.

  • A minimum unemployment rate of 13.1% now applies to all regions, unless your region is higher, in which case, that will be used.

  • You will receive a one-time credit of 300 insured hours (or 480 hours if you're applying for sickness, maternity/paternity or caregiving), meaning you only need 120 insured hours to qualify.

  • You don't need a medical certificate if you're applying for sickness benefits.

  • If you received CERB, the 52-week period to accumulate insured hours is extended.

There are also new items that you need to understand from any employer's perspective if your employees are taking EI. You can find them here.

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)

The CRB is open from September 27th, 2020 and is in effect until September 25, 2021. It provides income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to EI benefits.

Support of $1000 ($100 is withheld immediately for taxes) is provided for a 2-week period, and you can apply for up to 19 periods (38 weeks). It is important to note that these payments do not automatically renew, so you have to reapply for each 2-week period for which you require assistance. Applications can be submitted as soon as the first Monday after that 2-week period, and up to 60 days after the 2-week period has ended.

You are eligible for CRB if you are not employed or self-employed due to COVID-19 or you had a 50% reduction in your average weekly income, compared to the previous year, due to COVID-19. Other eligibility requirements include:

  • You did not apply for or receive Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB), Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB), short-term disability benefits, EI, Québec Parental Insurance Plan benefits.

  • You are not eligible for EI.

  • You reside in Canada, at least 15 years old, have a valid SIN and earned at least $5000 in 2019, 2020 or in the 12 months before you apply

  • You haven't quit or reduced hours voluntarily on or after Sept 27th (unless it was reasonable).

  • You are actively seeking work as an employee or in self-employment.

  • You haven't turned down reasonable work during the 2-week period for which you're applying.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

The CRCB gives income support of $500 per week ($450 after taxes withheld) to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.

Similar to CRB, you must apply for this each week as the benefit does not renew, and one household can receive it for up to 38 weeks.

Eligibility requirements are also similar to CRB. In addition, you must be unable to work for at least 50% of your scheduled work week because a school, daycare, day program or facility has been closed due to COVID-19. You are also eligible if regular care services are unavailable or you are required to care for a person who has COVID-19, has COVID-19 symptoms, is self-isolating or was advised to stay home by a medical professional due to COVID-19.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

You can apply for the CRSB if you are unable to work because you are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts you at greater risk of getting COVID-19. This benefit also provides $500/week (with $50 withheld for taxes); however, you can only apply for 4 weeks between September 27th, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Eligibility requirements also align with the above benefits, such as being unable to work at least 50% of your scheduled work week, not receiving any other benefits in the same period and earning at least $5000 in 2019, 2020 or the 12 months previous to the date you apply. In addition, you can not be receiving paid leave from your employer for the same period.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

This benefit needs to be discussed with your accountant before proceeding because there are many moving pieces and a number of updates have been implemented since it was originally announced last year.

If you're an incorporated independent contractor and compensating yourself as a salaried employee, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your wages, retroactive to March 15, 2020. You can use this online calculator to help you determine how much subsidy you may receive.

Taxes and Returning Payments

Keep in mind that although CRA withholds some money from your payments for tax purposes, you may still be on the hook for additional taxes, depending on your income for the entire year. In addition, if you get a benefit that you were not eligible to receive, you are responsible for returning that payment. For these reasons, we encourage you to speak with your accountant before applying.

Provincial Support

Each province and territory also announced a variety of benefits and supports to help individuals and businesses throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. For example, those in Alberta may look into the Working Parents Benefit or Enhanced COVID-19 Business Benefit, while those in Manitoba may review the Manitoba Bridge Grant for Home Based Businesses. Below are links to each province's websites for more information: