TORONTO, March 23, 2020 – As part of its mandate, the newly formed Ontario Racing task force, dedicated to addressing the financial impacts of COVID-19 as it relates to the industry, will provide regular updates to the Ontario horse racing community.
During this time of uncertainty, including the temporary suspension of live racing throughout the province, the task force would like to share a summary Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan (below), which may be of help to certain participants in the Ontario horse racing industry.
Due to the fluidity of the situation, it should be noted that the proposed legislation has not yet been passed, and that applications for benefits can be submitted starting April 1, 2020
Visit ontarioracing.com for further updates from the Ontario Racing task force, and comprehensive coverage of horse racing in Ontario.
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
On March 17, 2020, the Ontario government declared a province-wide state of emergency that will affect how employers do business in nearly every sector of the economy. In response to these unprecedented measures, the Ontario government has proposed legislation to enhance the existing emergency leave provisions under Ontario’s Employment Standards Act, 2000
to help ease the financial implications of the crisis for employers and employees. It should be noted that the proposed legislation has not yet been passed.
Following is a summary of measures, which may be of benefit to participants in the Ontario horse racing industry.
Employment Insurance (EI) Sickness Benefits
EI sickness benefits provide eligible employees with up to 15 weeks of income replacement benefits paid at a rate of 55% of the employee’s weekly earnings to a maximum of $573 per week.
Effective March 15, 2020, employees with sufficient insurable hours of employment who are quarantined because of the COVID-19 outbreak will be eligible to receive EI sickness benefits immediately, foregoing the usual one week waiting period in which benefits are not paid. 
Employees claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate to the federal government to substantiate their claim.
Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents
Effective April 2020, the federal government will also provide income support to individuals who do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
This benefit will provide income support to new employees who have not accumulated sufficient insurable hours to qualify for EI sickness benefits or for employees who work relatively few hours.
The Emergency Care Benefit provides eligible individuals with payments of $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks. The following are eligible for the Emergency Care Benefit:
- 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 or daycare closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.
Application for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:
1.by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
2.by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
3.by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process (not yet published).
Longer-Term Income Support for Workers
For Canadians who lose their jobs or face reduced hours as a result of COVID-19, the Government is:
Additional Income Support
- Introducing an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the CRA to provide up to $5.0 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment.
- Implementing an EI Work Sharing Program, which provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers, by extending the eligibility of such agreements to 76 weeks, easing eligibility requirements, and streamlining the application process.
For over 12 million low- and modest-income families, who may require additional help with their finances, the Government is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax credit (GSTC). This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year. The average boost to income for those benefitting from this measure will be close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples.
Where stables and owners have business numbers, they may qualify for Small Business relief. The purpose of this program is to increase the availability of credit to businesses of all sizes, sustain liquidity in key financial markets, and provide flexibility to businesses experiencing hardship.
Helping Businesses Keep their Workers
To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.
Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes
The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.
The Liaison Officer service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.
Ensuring Businesses Have Access to Credit
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. This will be an effective tool for helping viable Canadian businesses remain resilient during these very uncertain times. BDC and EDC are cooperating with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation and tourism. The near term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.
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