Remember the 80s and 90s?
Did you know that before 1990 home-based businesses (HBBs) were illegal?  They were considered an underground businesses not paying their fair share of taxes. In 1990, the Federal Entrepreneurship and Small Business Office-Industry, Science and Technology Canada received a request from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to form the National Home-Based Business Committee, which I was asked to Chair, (given I was probably the loudest voice for HBBs advocating a change of regulatory issues to be able to operate legally!)
One of the main objectives was to provide guidelines to municipalities. The committee included representatives of the Federal-Provincial Territorial Sr. Officials Responsible for Small Business, plus many other representatives. Called “Home Enterprise: Canadians and Home-Based Work”, the research was completed by Barbara Orser and Mary Foster. This study led to the changes in HBB regulations not only in Canada but in the USA and other countries. I spent the next 10+years speaking all over the world on why HBBs was an important sector in the economic fabric of all countries, including co-authoring a book for Slovenia on HBBs. The irony is that 30+ years later we are being asked to “work from home!”
Then In 1991, I co-authored a booklet “TIPS for TOUGH TIMES” with colleague Ted James for the BC Ministry of Economic Development, Small Business and Trade. The intro starts with “Prevention is the Best Cure”.  It was produced to help reduce the failure rate of SMEs by providing survival tips for coping with hard times. How life becomes a FULL CIRCLE…
So this now brings me to why this weekly digest? Let’s start our first week with a deep inhale and exhale, shall we? At least that’s what the experts are recommending .
Whew, that feels better.
With the constant stream of COVID-19 updates flooding the news cycle, trying to stay up to date has become a truly daunting task. When was that tax deferral date again? CIBC is offering what?
Luckily, we stayed up to date for you. In our first issue of The Weekly Biz called TIPS for TOUGH TIMES, we’re breaking down government support, banking initiatives, and the latest headlines to give you all the info you need to navigate this crisis. We want to be your go-to-spot for business updates and practical tips from industry leaders around the world. We survived brilliantly in past downturns; we will survive and thrive once again! Stay with us…

Starting with the Big Stuff: Federal Plans

More Credit for Small Businesses. Canada’s Business Credit Availability Program, offered through the EDCBDC and private sector lenders, will provide loans, payment postponements, rate reductions and more to small and medium-sized businesses. How to apply? Businesses should contact their financial institutions to be assessed. Banks will contact the EDC and BDC as needed.

Extended Work-Share Benefits. The Work-Share Program has been extended from 38 to 76 weeks. It allows employees to split a reduced number of work hours while supplementing their income with EI benefits. Businesses affected by COVID-19 and all those in the forestry, steel and alu minum sector can apply here.

Immediate Wage Subsidies.  Trudeau has announced a temporary  75% wage subsidy for small businesses , non-profit organizations and charities. Employers can implement this benefit right away by reducing income tax withheld on employee wages to a maximum of $1,375 per employee. More information on who is eligible and how to apply for the subsidy is available here.

Deferred Income Tax Payments. Canadian businesses can defer income tax payments that become owing or due after March 18th 2020 to September 1st, 2020. In addition, individuals can defer filing their income taxes until June 1st, 2020 and can defer their payments to September 1st, 2020.

Temporary Audit Suspension. For most taxpayers, the CRA will temporarily suspend audit interaction. In addition, the CRA will not contact any small or medium-sized businesses on any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks.

Collections activities on new debts will be suspended until further notice. Plus, taxpayers who are prevented from making a payment or filing on time can submit a request to have interest and/or penalties waived.

Farm Credit. After Trudeau’s announcement of $5 billion in increased lending capacity for farmers and food producers, farmers can apply through Farm Credit Canada to access this support. In addition, eligible farmers with Advance Payment Program loans due on or before April 30 will have an added 6 months to pay them back.

Help for Canadians Abroad. Canadians abroad impacted by the virus can apply for a $5,000 emergency loan to get them home safe. Eligible applicants can contact Global Affairs Canada at

Cut the line! Canada has waived the EI waiting period and has removed the medical certificate requirement for claims.

Income Support for Employees. The government has combined the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit to create the Canada Emergency Response Benefit. This will provide $2,000 a month, for four months, to those who have lost their job, are off sick from work, or are home taking care of their children due to COVID-19. Assistance will arrive about 10 days after applying. Applications open early April.

Now, for the Banks

Amid the COVID-19 cr isis, Canada’s 6 big banks have announced that they will “work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage”
So, what are these flexible solutions ?


Bank of Montreal (BMO) is offering up to a 6-month payment deferral on mortgages, loans, credit cards and lines of credit with no fee. While payments can be deferred, interest will continue to accrue.
See below for details on BMO’s upcoming webinar and podcast features – you’ll find expert insight on how to navigate the current business climate.
The bank also has a dedicated financial relief program for Canadian businesses. Relief measures include payment deferral on small business credit cards, credit lines, and on the principal of small business loans. They will also provide increases on small business operating lines as well as one-on-one advice on business plans.
Next steps: If you think you’ll miss a payment, sign into your online banking and send a request through the message center. For other inquiries, personal banking customers should contact the bank here, while business banking customers should contact their Relationship Manager.


While CIBC is also offering up to a 6 month payment deferral on mortgages, they have announced an additional set of relief measures for small businesses . These include: payment deferral, support on new cash management and lending needs, as well as an expanded call centre with small business lending experts ready to help.
Next steps: Those seeking support can fill out their financial assistance form. There is one for businesses and one for personal banking customers.


RBC is providing immediate relief with the self-serve feature. Both personal and business clients can immediately skip one month of payments on their mortgage, auto-loan, personal loan or credit card. Up to 6-month mortgage payment deferrals are also available.
In addition, RBC has a plan for businesses. While they’ll assess clients on a case-by-case basis, their support measures include: waiving of credit card minimum payments, increases to operating line of credit limits, business loan payment deferrals and waived fees.
Next steps: The self-serve feature is available through online banking. For other inquiries, clients are encouraged to contact an advisor. To avoid wait times at the call centre, you can schedule a time to speak with one here.


Scotiabank is offering up to a 6-month payment deferral on mortgages – one principal residence and up to three additional residences may be eligible. In addition, you can defer up to 3 months of payments on personal and auto loans, and 3 months of minimum payments on your line of credit and credit card. In all cases, interest will continue to accrue.
Scotiabank will also work with you if you need to access money tied up in a TFSA, RRSP or GIC.
Next steps: To defer your mortgage payment, start here. For other financial relief measures, contact your advisor or call 1-800-4-SCOTIA. Business Banking customers are urged to contact their Relationship Manager.


Aside from their option to defer mortgage payments for up to 6 months and their “opportunity for relief on other credit products”, TD has simply reaffirmed their commitment to work with banking customers on a case-by-case basis.

When it comes to TD credit cards , they have a lot of cancelled plans. They’ve decided not to proceed with their plans to start charging compound interest, they will no longer introduce over-limit fees on three of their credit cards, and they won’t increase the interest rate on accounts who miss their minimum payment twice in one year.

National Bank of Canada

The National Bank is offering special measures to personal bankers such as loans to cover living expenses, longer amortization periods, and payment deferrals of up to six months on mortgages. All clients will be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

For Business clients, the bank’s account managers will assess each unique situation.


Connect First Credit Union. You can skip up to 3 monthly payments on all mortgage, line of credit, loan and car payments. There will be NO questions asked in order to qualify, and all types of members can access this benefit.
Vancity. Under their loan deferral program , members have options like interest only payments and loan payment deferrals of up to six months. They’re also waiving their fees, buying back foreign currency, and mobilizing a relief fund for those on the front lines of the outbreak. Lastly, their Unity Term Deposit program turns investments into loans that directly support people and businesses facing hardship during the pandemic.
Northern Savings Credit Union. In addition to their mortgage and loan deferral program , they have reduced their Prime rate to 2.95% and are postponing their service fee changes.

Other credit unions offering deferred payment options and tailored financial assistance in response to COVID-19: Coast Capital Savings , Meridian , Servus Credit Union , Conexus Credit Union , Affinity Credit Union

Support from the Provinces?


Job-protected leave legislation. The Employment Standards Amendment Act, 2020 , provides job-protected leave for employees in isolation, or those who need to be away to care for a children or their relatives due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ensuring delivery of goods. Ontario passed the Municipal Emergency Act, 2020 , facilitating the delivery of goods to businesses and consumers and ensuring that it is not impacted by municipal noise by-laws.
Cheaper electricity bills. Ontario has reduced the cost of daytime electricity by an average of $20 per month.
No more evictions. Ontario freezes eviction s, meaning they will temporarily stop the enforcement of evictions and will stop issuing new eviction orders.
Toronto tax & payment relief. Businesses, homeowners and other residential property owners in Toronto will have a 60-day grace period (beginning March 16 th) on their City of Toronto property tax, Toronto Water and Solid Waste bill payments. Plus, late payment penalties on business properties will be waved for 60 days beginning March 16 th.

Call for support. Ontario has launched the Ontario Together portal, a website calling for help from businesses to combat COVID-19. For example, they’re calling on manufacturers to help with mask, ventilator, swab and eye protection supplies.


Loans for businesses with liquidity issues. Québec’s Programme d’action concertée temporaire pour les entreprises (PACTE) is aimed at helping businesses with liquidity issues caused by the pandemic. Financial assistance is a minimum of $50,000 and is provided as a loan guarantee or loan.
$5 million assistance fund for businesses. The City of Montréal is putting $5 million in an assistance fund to support struggling small and medium-sized businesses. The fund will provide subsidies to neighborhood stores, the tourism industry as well as businesses involved in culture and the arts.
Aid for workers who must stay in isolation: Québec is offering a lump sum of $573 per week , granted for a period of 14 days to workers in isolation. If justified, coverage can extend to a max of 28 days. To apply, begin with this registration form .
Québec Tax Payment Deferral. For corporations, the payment of tax instalments and the balance of tax otherwise due between March 18, 2020 and September 1 2020 is now September 1, 2020.
Montréal Property Tax Deferral. Owners of both residential and commercial properties will have an extra month to make their second instalment of property taxes. The new deadline is July 2, 2020.
Hydro-Québec suspending charges for unpaid invoices for individuals and businesses until further notice.
6-month Moratorium on Capital and Interest for Specific Loans. Anyone who received a loan through the PME MTL fund, Fonds Locaux de Solidarité and Fonds de commercialisation des innovations will benefit from this automatic, 6-month suspension.

3-month moratorium on the repayment (principal and interest) of loans already granted through the Fonds local d’investissement (FLI).


Aid for workers in isolation. Under the Emergency Isolation Support Program (EISP) , Albertans under self-isolation will receive a $1,146 payment. It is available through
Corporate Income Tax Deferral. Businesses with income tax balances that become owing on or after March, 18 2020 or instalment payments coming due between March, 18 2020 and August 31, 2020 can defer payment until August 31, 2020.
New legislation on job-protected leave. Amendments to the Employment Standards Code will allow full and part-time employees to take 14 days of job-protected leave if they are required to self-isolate or must care for a child or dependent in isolation.


Provincial Sales Tax Relief. Businesses directly impacted by COVID-19 that are unable to remit their provincial sales tax will have relief from interest or penalties for 3 months . Plus, businesses that are unable to file their provincial tax return by the due date can submit a request for relief from penalty and interest charges.
Business Response Team. A dedicated business response team has been created to help businesses gain access to provincial and federal supports. They can be reached at or 1-844-800-8688.
Zero-interest bill deferral on all Crown utilities for up to 6 months. Available to all customers whose ability to make bill payments has been impacted by COVID-19.
New employment legislation. A new unpaid public health emergency leave has been introduced to remove the 13-week employment requirement to access sick leave.
Self-Isolation Support Program. The Province’s plan will provide $450 per week to a maximum of two weeks for residents forced to self-isolate.


Temporary allowance for employees at a max of $250 a week. This is for employees who have experienced a significant drop in their hours. They can apply online here.
Self-employed workers can get up to $500 a week for the period between March 16 th 2020 and March 29 th 2020. Applicants must demonstrate direct financial losses related to COVID-19. They can apply online here.

Emergency Working Capital Financing. This new loan program will assist qualifying companies with a loan of up to $100,000 with a fixed interest rate of 4%. Applications should be submitted to Finance PEI at


Deferred loan payments. All government loan payments will be deferred until June 30 th .
Deferred business renewal fees. All small business renewal fees , including business registration, are deferred until June 30 th .
Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program . Adjustments include: deferring principal and interest payments until June 30 th and getting businesses more access to credit.

Quick payment for small businesses. Small businesses that do business with the government will be paid within five days instead of the usual 30 days.


Employee benefit of $1000 for lost income. The BC Emergency Benefit for Workers provides a one-time payment of $1,000 for people who have lost income. Applications will open in the coming weeks, and payment will be paid in May 2020.

Deferred Tax Payments. B.C. is extending both filing and payment deadlines for the following taxes until September 30, 2020: employer health tax, provincial sales tax (including municipal and regional district tax), carbon tax, motor fuel tax, tobacco tax.

Helpful Resources

Attention all suppliers! Canada is calling on suppliers to help provide needed materials and services, such as disposable N95 masks, vinyl gloves, IT services and nursing services. Here is a full list.

Make sure you’re on the right track. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has a comprehensive business planning checklist to help you protect yourself and your employees.

Respond to COVID-19 as a business. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce released this helpful guide titled ‘ COVID-19 – Pandemic Preparedness for Business’.
Prioritize your mental health. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health has some great information on how to cope with stress and anxiety as well as how to support mental wellness during the outbreak.
Stay in the loop. The Bank of Montreal (BMO) is hosting a series of webinars and podcasts in the coming weeks to provide expert feedback on issues like business planning, cash management, HR and more.
Two webinars have been scheduled:
  • Access to Capital & Cash Management  – Monday March 30, 2-3pm EST
  • Economy, Business Planning and Tax Implications – Wednesday April 1, 2-3pm EST
As well as two podcasts, available on iTunes and all other platforms.
  • Human Resource Issues –  to be posted week of March 30
  • Resilience through these uncertain times –  to be posted in early April
We want to send a big thank you to Bank of Montreal (BMO), our GroYourBiz founding and developing partner, for providing our community with specific resources to guide us through this time.

And that’s a wrap!

We’ll see you back here next week as we dive into business tips from industry leaders around the world. Stay tuned!
In the meantime, please join us for a GroYourBiz Covid-19 Webinar Series! Starting March 31st, we’ll be releasing a series of webinars on everything from mindfulness to managing household finances. We’ll see you there!