CBTU Government of Canada COVID-19 Phase I Announcement

Mar 19, 2020


Yesterday, the Federal Government announced Phase One of the measures taken to support workers and businesses faced with the massive impact of COVID-19. The Federal Government has announced $82 Billion dollars in support, with over $27 Billion earmarked for direct payments to Canadians and businesses across the country, with the remaining $55 Billion earmarked for tax payment deferrals.

Some of the measures in the announcement will require legislation to be enacted and we anticipate this will take a few weeks to roll out. The Government will be recalling the House of Commons to deal with these measures in the very near future.

The following is an outline of some of the areas identified in Phase One of the measures taken to help stabilize the economy for both workers and businesses;

Some highlights from yesterday’s announcement:

  • Canada and the US are temporarily restricting all non-essential travel across the border, as early as Friday, March 20, 2020. Supply lines, especially for essential services, will not be impacted; this includes trucking.
  • The Federal Government is recommending that Canadians work from home, buy only what you need, avoid public space and be empathetic and caring for others.
  • The Federal Government will waive the one-week waiting period for those individuals in imposed quarantine that claim EI sickness benefits. This temporary measure is in effect as of March 15, 2020.

Support for Canadians

  • Temporary Income Support for Workers and Parents
    • Boosting Canada Child Benefit payments
  • Longer-Term Income Support for Workers
    • Implementing the EI Work Sharing Program
    • New Emergency Care Benefit ($10B) of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave, and includes:
    • Workers, including the self-employed, who are sick, quarantined, or who have been directed to self-isolate but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (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 or other dependents who are sick, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
    • EI-eligible and non EI-eligible working parents who must stay home without pay because of children who are sick or who need additional care because of school closures.
  • Income Support for Individuals Who Need It Most
    • Reduce minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25 per cent for 2020 in recognition of volatile market conditions and their impact on many seniors’ retirement savings.
    • Implement a six-month, interest-free, moratorium on Canada Student Loan payments for all individuals who are in the process of repaying these loans.
    • Provide $305 million for a new distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund, to address immediate needs in First Nations, Inuit, and Métis Nation communities.
    • Support women and children fleeing violence by providing up to $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities. This includes funding for facilities in Indigenous communities.
    • Provide an additional $157.5 million to address the needs of Canadians experiencing homelessness through the Reaching Home program.
  • Flexibility for Taxpayers
    • Extend the tax filing deadline for individuals to June 1, and allow all taxpayers 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.
  • Mortgage Default Management Tools
    • Provide increased flexibility to lenders to defer mortgage payments on homeowner government-insured mortgage loans to borrowers who may be experiencing financial difficulties related to the outbreak. Insurers will permit lenders to allow payment deferral beginning immediately.
  • Role of Financial Institutions

Support for Businesses

  • Supporting Canadian Businesses Through the Canada Account
  • Helping Businesses Keep Their Workers
    • Provide eligible small businesses a 10 per cent wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Employers benefiting from this measure would include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as not-for-profit organisations and charities.  This will help employers keep people on their payroll and help Canadians keep their jobs.
  • Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes
  • Ensuring Businesses have Access to Credit
  • Supporting Financial Market Liquidity

For more information on yesterday’s announcement including detailed information for the measures listed above, please visit the Government of Canada website here.

As you know, Canada’s Building Trades Unions sent a letter to various elected officials respectfully requesting the Federal Government to consider responses directly responsive to the skilled construction industry. The CBTU is in direct contact with several cabinet offices and is encouraged that yesterday’s announcement directly addresses some of our construction industry requests. As we move forward, we will work with our affiliate government relations representatives in the days and weeks ahead to advance the priorities of our valued CBTU affiliates and Provincial Councils. This is an evolving situation, and we are adjusting our efforts based on your input and the changing landscape.

The CBTU remains grateful for the guidance of the Canadian Executive Board Directors and Provincial Council Leaders who have shaped this Federal lobbying effort. We are especially appreciative to our various affiliate government relations representatives for their ongoing work on our collective behalf.

Please stay safe and healthy,

Robert Kucheran


Canada’s Building Trades Unions