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Ontario Financial Relief Programs

The Government of Ontario is implementing economic relief programs dedicated to helping businesses and citizens reduce the burden of expenses during COVID-19. These measures include a five-month relief period for businesses unable to remit or file provincial taxes, deferred WSIB payments for a period of six months, and more. The following provides a brief summary of these government programs, including details relating to eligibility, how to apply and general terms and conditions, as applicable. We will endeavour to update this page on a daily basis. However, for a complete and up to date description, please see the link to the applicable program webpage contained herein. Should you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to a Goodmans lawyer. Programs include:


 

Interest and Penalty Relief

Program Overview

  • The government will provides a five month interest and penalty-free period for missed filing or remittance deadlines under select provincial taxes
  • The government is also temporarily suspending audit interactions with most Ontario businesses beginning the month of April 2020 until further notice.
  • This is equivalent to approximately $6 billion in relief for Ontario businesses.

Eligibility

  • Must be an Ontario business.

How to Apply

  • Penalties and interest will be waived automatically for all late returns or remittances by Ontario businesses during the relief period.
  • The relief period is from April 1, 2020 to August 31, 2020.

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Workplace Safety and Insurance Board ("WSIB") Payment Deferrals

Program Overview

  • Employers can defer WSIB payments for up to six months (March 31, 2020 to August 31, 2020). The WSIB will also cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments and not charge penalties during the six-month deferral period. 
  • Approximately $1.9 billion in relief.

Eligibility

  • All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package.
    • Schedule 1 employers who owe premiums to the WSIB will be allowed to defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020.
    • Schedule 2 businesses that pay WSIB for the cost related to their workplace injury and illness claims can defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020.

How to Apply

  • No action is required from businesses covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance to receive the financial relief.

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Affordable Electricity Bills

Program Overview

  • From March 24 to May 31, 2020, residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers will get the lowest rate — also known as the off-peak price — 24 hours a day. Eligible customers will pay 10.1 ¢/kWh no matter what time of day customers use electricity.
  • The government will continue the suspension of time-of-use (“TOU”) electricity rates and, starting on June 1, customers will be billed based on a new fixed COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt hour.  The COVID-19 Recovery Rate will be in place until October 31, 2020, followed by a new customer choice initiative. Starting November 1, 2020, customers will be able to choose a plan that best suits their household and lifestyle with the option of either TOU electricity rates or tiered pricing.

Eligibility

  • Residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers

 How to Apply

  • This rate will be automatically applied to customers’ bills.

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Electricity Disconnection Ban

Program Overview

  • The Ontario Energy Board (“OEB”) extended the winter ban on electricity disconnections due to non-payment for residential customers and low-volume, small business consumers to July 31, 2020. Individuals who qualify as low-volume consumers will not be disconnected from their electricity supply for non-payment while Ontario addresses the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Eligibility

  • Any “low-volume consumer”, which is a customer who uses less than 150,000 kWh per year, qualifies for this initiative.

How to Apply

  • No application is required.

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COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (“CEAP”)

Program Overview

  • $9 million is being provided by the OEB for CEAP to support consumers struggling to pay their energy bills during the pandemic. CEAP will provide one-time payments to consumers to help pay down any electricity bill debt incurred over the COVID 19 period.

Eligibility

  • Details regarding the eligibility of this program are currently not available.

How to Apply

  • Applications will be available through local utilities in the upcoming months.

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COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Businesses (“CEAP-SB”)

Program Overview

  • $8 million is being provided by the OEB for CEAP-SB to provide support to businesses struggling with bill payments as a result of the outbreak.

Eligibility

  • Details regarding the eligibility of this program is currently not available.

How to Apply

  • Further details to come.

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Infectious Disease Emergency Leave

Program Overview

  • Non-unionized employees will be put on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19. This will ensure businesses aren't forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired and ensure that employers cannot threaten, fire or penalize an employee because the employee took or plans on taking an infectious disease emergency leave. The regulatory amendment applies retroactively to January 25 and will expire six weeks after the declared emergency ends.

Eligibility

  • An employer may require an employee to provide evidence reasonable in the circumstances. Employers cannot require an employee to provide a certificate from a physician or nurse as evidence. What is considered reasonable in the circumstances will depend on all the facts of the situation, such as: the duration of the leave, whether there is a pattern of absences, whether any evidence is available and the cost of the evidence. More details on eligibility can be found here.

How to Apply

  • No application necessary.

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