covid19-abgov

In addition to Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, there have been some changes to Alberta’s economic response. The Alberta government will provide immediate funding and supportive measure for local businesses, employers and employees.

  1. Corporate income tax deadline extension
    • Corporate income tax balances and installment payments will be deferred from March 19 until August 31, 2020 to increase employers’ access to cash so they can pay employees, address debts and continue operations
  2. Education property tax deferral
    • Education property tax rates will be frozen at last year’s level – reversing the 3.4% population and inflation increase added in Budget 2020
    • Collection of non-residential education property tax for businesses will be deferred for 6 months.
    • Municipalities are expected to set education property tax rates as they normally would but defer collections
    • Deferred amounts will be repaid in future tax years
  3. WCB premium payment deferral
    • Small, medium and large private sector employers can defer WCB premium payments until 2021
    • For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50% of the 2020 premium when it is due in 2021 – saving businesses $350 million
    • Large employers will have their 2020 WCB premium payments deferred until 2021, at which time their premiums will be due
    • Employers who have already paid WCB premiums in 2020 are eligible for a rebate or credit
  4. Utility payment deferral
    • Residential, farm and small commercial customers can defer electricity and natural gas bill payments for the next 90 days to ensure no one will be cut off, regardless of the service provider
    • This program is also available to Albertans who lost their employment, had to leave work to take care of an ill family member etc. due to COVID-19
    • Call your utility provider directly to arrange for a 90-day deferral on all payments
  5. Job-protected leave
    • Changes to the Employment Standards Code will allow full and part-time employees to take 14 days (this leave time is subject to change) of job-protected leave if they are required to self-isolate or caring for a child or dependent adult that is required to self-isolate
    • To be eligible, employees:
      • Will not be required to have a medical note
      • Do not need to have worked for an employer for 90 days
      • The leave does not apply to self-employed individuals or contractors
  6. Emergency isolation support
    • This will be a temporary program for working adult Albertans who must self-isolate because they meet the Government of Alberta’s published criteria for self-isolation, including persons who are the sole care-giver for a dependent who must self-isolate because they meet the public health criteria, and who will not have another source of pay or compensation while they are self-isolated
    • A one-time payment of $1,146 will be distributed to bridge the gap until the federal emergency payments begin in April
    • We expect the program to be available through a simple online application this week and that funds will be deposited in the accounts of eligible recipients beginning at that time
  7. Banks
    • ATB small business customers are eligible for some benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic. Small business customers can:
      • Apply for a payment deferral on loans and lines of credit for up to 6 months
      • Access additional working capital
      • ATB personal banking customers can apply for a deferral on their ATB loans, lines of credit and mortgages for up to 6 months
      • Other businesses and agriculture customers can access support on a one-on-one basis. Further solutions are being considered at this time
  8. Student loans repayment deferral
    • Alberta Student Loan repayments will be paused for 6 months, beginning March 30, 2020
    • Interest will not accrue during this period. This mirrors the approach of the Canada Student Loans Program
    • Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause
    • Borrowers may continue making payments during this period if they choose and this will not affect their eligibility to receive the benefit

Some other recommendations by the Alberta government for local businesses, employers and employees during the COVID-19 pandemic:

  • Enlist in the federal programs you are eligible for (See our blog posts “Canada’s COIVD-19 Economic Response Plan: For Individuals and Families” and “Canada’s COIVD-19 Economic Response Plan: For Businesses”)
  • Commercial landlords are encouraged to pass savings on to their tenants through reduced or deferred payments to help employers pay their employees and stay in business
  • Businesses capable of paying their taxes in full are encouraged to do to so. This will assist the province in supporting Albertans through the pandemic
  • Business members should contact their credit union directly to work out a plan for their personal situation
  • Employees can request using their vacation pay or banked overtime, but employers are not required to grant the request. Provincial employment rules only require employers to provide vacation pay, vacation leave or pay banked overtime within a year of it being earned
  • Employers can request employees voluntarily take vacation leave and/or use their vacation pay or banked overtime but cannot force them to do so under provincial employment rules
  • Employers should consider their business continuity plans and how COVID-19 could impact their workplace. To prepare, make plans to, protect employees, limit spread in workplaces, ensure continuity of critical services if staff are ill or self-isolating, explore alternate working arrangements, such as working from home or remotely and doing work that doesn’t require contact with other people

These details are subject to change as more advice from Alberta’s chief medical officer comes forward as the COVID-19 pandemic progresses. See the Alberta government website for additional information and updates.

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