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COVID-19 Information and Resources
As we have all come to learn, the COVID-19 outbreak has developed into the biggest challenge to public health in cities and communities across Canada likely in our lifetime. As a company, we are committed to supporting our clients with essential information about government relief programs and other vital resources available to you during this difficult time.

Government of Canada COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

The primary federal measures that have been introduced to help individuals and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic are summarized below. For a complete list of the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) updates, visit the CRA website for the latest updates.
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Benefits, credits and support payments to individuals

To support individuals who have lost income due to the pandemic, the federal government has introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which will provide a taxable benefit of $500 per week for up to 16 weeks.

The federal plan also provides additional assistance to families with children by increasing the maximum annual Canada Child Benefit (CCB) payment amounts, only for the 2019-20 benefit year, by $300 per child. The overall increase for families receiving CCB will be approximately $550 on average.

For low- and modest-income families, a one-time supplementary payment under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit will be provided. This payment will double the maximum annual GST/HST credit payment amounts for the benefit year 2019-20 benefit year. The extra payment amount will apply automatically if a taxpayer normally receives the GST/ HST credit and has filed a 2018 tax return. The average boost to income for those benefitting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and $600 for couples.

The Employment Insurance Regulations have been amended to offer income support to those without paid sick leave (or similar workplace accommodation) who are sick, quarantined or forced to stay home to care for children.

Key amendments are:

  • The one-week waiting period for EI has been waived temporarily as of March 15, 2020
  • The requirement for claimants to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits has been waived
  • The Emergency Care Benefit, which provides up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks, has been introduced. This flat-payment benefit, administered through the CRA, provides 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, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
    • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school or daycare closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.
Support for employers

On March 13, the federal government announced help for small and medium-sized businesses through the Business Credit Availability Program. The initiative will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans up to a certain limit that financial institutions extend to small and medium-sized enterprises.

Subsequently, the Canada Emergency Business Account was created to provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. Applications for loans started on April 9, 2020, and can be made by businesses through their banks and credit unions. If the loan is repaid by Dec. 31, 2022, 25 percent of it will be forgiven, up to $10,000. If the loan is not repaid by Dec. 31, 2022, the remaining balance will be converted to a three-year term loan at 5 percent interest.

Under the COVID-19 Emergency Response Act, the federal government is providing a 10 percent temporary wage subsidy for employers.

Under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, the federal government is covering up to 75 percent of an employee's salary up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week, for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

See the chart below for a summary of the details of both the subsidies.

 
Subsidy Type 10% Subsidy 75% Subsidy
Eligible Employer An individual (other than a trust), certain partnership, a not-for-profit organization, a registered charity and a Canadian-controlled private corporation, eligible for the small business deduction. Individuals, taxable corporations, certain nonprofit organizations, registered charities, and partnerships consisting of eligible employers.
Public-sector entities, such as governments, schools, and hospitals are excluded.
Eligible Employee  An individual employed in Canada. An individual employed in Canada by the eligible entity during the qualifying period.
However, an individual will not be an eligible employee in a qualifying period if that individual did not receive remuneration from the eligible employer for 14 or more consecutive days in the qualifying period.
Eligible Periods March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020. Three initial eligible periods:
  • Period 1: March 15 to April 11, 2020
  • Period 2: April 12 to May 9, 2020
  • Period 3: May 10 to June 6, 2020
Eligible periods extended for additional periods up to Sept. 30, 2020.
Revenue Requirements Not applicable. Employer must have a drop of at least 15% of qualifying revenue in March 2020 and 30% of the qualifying revenue in April 2020 and May 2020. The reduction can be measured using any one of the following two benchmarks:
  1. A general year-over-year approach;
  2. The average revenue of Jan. and Feb. 2020.
 
Amount of subsidy 10% of eligible remuneration paid during the eligible period, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Determined by the formula on an employee-by-employee basis depending on certain prescribed factors; generally available at a rate of 75% of eligible remuneration paid to employees, up to a maximum of $847 per employee.
Application   No application is necessary. Instead, the employer reduces the income tax remittances by the subsidy amount. Eligible employers to apply through My Business Account portal or a web-based application, when available.
Interaction of the 10% subsidy & the 75% subsidy If an employer qualifies under both the Subsidy programs, the employer’s benefit under the 10% Subsidy will remain the same and does not get affected.  If an employer qualifies under both the Subsidy programs, the employer’s benefit under the 75% Subsidy will be reduced by an amount equal to the employer’s benefit under the 10% Subsidy.
Taxability Amount is taxable to the employer. Amount is taxable to the employer.
Penalty provisions No specific penalty provisions are proposed. Abuse of the 75% Subsidy program may result in a penalty of up to 25% of the benefit received (plus full repayment) and up to five years imprisonment. Penalties/ punishments under existing provisions of the Income Tax Act will also apply if the employer makes a deceptive statement.

Changes to CRA call-center services

To manage the increase in calls due to COVID-19 and provide contact options for Canadians, the CRA has made changes to its call center services. For more information, visit the CRA website here.

Outreach activities
  1. Taxpayers are encouraged to use the CRA’s suite of digital services to interact with the CRA.
  2. The CRA is adapting its Outreach Program to help individuals better understand their tax obligations and is also modifying its Liaison Officer service to a telephone-based service.
  3. The CRA has made various requests to taxpayers regarding correspondence, filing and payment procedures. Note that all drop boxes not located at the Canada Revenue Agency's tax centers have been closed, and the drop boxes at certain limited tax centers will be monitored regularly and remain open.
Collections, audit, objections and appeals

Taxpayers should be aware that the CRA has changed processes associated with: (1) Collections on new debts; (2) Audits; (3) Objections, appeals and taxpayer relief; and (4) Validation programs and verification activities.

Electronic signatures

As a temporary measure, the CRA will recognize electronic signatures for the authorization forms T183 or T183CORP. These forms are typically signed in-person to authorize tax preparers to file taxes.

Changes to income tax filing and payment dates

The federal and provincial governments have announced extensions to the various tax filing and payment deadlines to help taxpayers affected by the economic disruption from COVID-19.

Individuals

For individuals, the filing due date for 2019 personal tax returns is deferred from April 30, 2020 to June 1, 2020.
The deadline to pay any income tax amounts, including tax balances due, as well as instalments, that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020 is deferred until after August 31, 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

Trusts

For trusts with a taxation year-end on December 31, 2019, the filing due date for income tax returns is deferred from March 31, 2020 to May 1, 2020.
The deadline to pay any income tax amounts, including tax balances due, as well as instalments, that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020 is deferred until after August 31, 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

Corporations

For corporations, the filing due date for corporate income tax returns has not been deferred.
The deadline to pay any income tax amounts, including tax balances due, as well as instalments, that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020 is deferred until after August 31, 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
The CRA announced that it will not contact any small or medium-sized businesses to initiate any new GST/HST or income tax audits for the next four weeks.
The Canada Revenue Agency also announced that it will temporarily suspend interaction with taxpayers and representatives for audits already in progress for the vast majority of businesses.

Charities

On March 27, 2020, the Government of Canada announced that the filing deadline for all charities with a Form T3010, Registered Charity Information Return due between March 18, 2020 and December 31, 2020 is extended to December 31, 2020.

Selected provincial and municipal measures

Ontario
  1. Support for Families program for families to support their children’s learning. Applications are open and can be submitted online.
  2. Support for Parents program to provide financial assistance to parents on closure of schools. Applications can be submitted online or in paper mode.  
  3. Release of Ontario’s one-year economic and fiscal update entitled, “Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 (March 2020 Economic and Fiscal Update)".
  4. Doubling the payments made through the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS), beginning April 2020 for a period of six months.
Municipal government measures

Across Canada, many cities and municipalities are providing extensions, grace periods, or suspensions in respect of various municipal taxes including property taxes, education taxes and utility bills.

In Toronto, for example, both individuals and businesses will benefit from a 60-day grace period on their property tax, Toronto Water, and Solid Waste bill payments, as of March 16, 2020. For property owners on the 11-installment pre-authorized payment plan, installment due dates will be extended by 60 days, and late payment penalties for residential properties will be waived for 60 days.
The city will suspend any pending automatic withdraws that have been scheduled within the next 60 days and which have not yet been withdrawn.

Also, many provinces and municipalities are mandating that utility payments can be deferred for 90 days.
More details of the measures taken by the municipal governments can be found at their respective websites.

Banks and credit unions

On April 4, Canada's Big Six banks all said they will temporarily reduce interest rates on credit cards to provide relief to customers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Most of the banks typically charge an interest rate of 19.99 percent to 20.99 percent on credit-card purchases. Under this relief measure, the interest rate will be reduced to 10.99 percent.

Also, two weeks earlier, the banks unveiled a mortgage-relief plan that allows homeowners struggling with their finances due to the pandemic to defer or skip mortgage payments for up to six months.
The banks are also working with their customers to defer payments on other loans, including credit card debt, auto loans and business loans.

Health

The following links will take you to resources that can assist you with understanding COVID-19 and how you can stay safe and healthy.

 
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