Federal and Ontario COVID-19 Relief Update
September 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update
Published on September 30, 2020

By Terrance S. CarterAdriel N. Clayton and Luis R. Chacin

Federal Government Announces Further COVID-19 Support in Speech from the Throne

A new session of Parliament opened on September 23, 2020, with the Speech from the Throne delivered by Governor General Julie Payette. In the Speech from the Throne, the government outlined its plan to support Canadians through the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the relief measures referenced the government committed to extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (“CEWS”, discussed most recently in Charity & NFP Law Bulletin No. 477), to the summer of 2021; expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (“CEBA”), discussed in Charity & NFP Law Bulletin No. 471 and the May 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update, and immediately below, to help businesses with fixed costs; as well as  “introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including […] cultural industries like the performing arts”. The government also indicated that it would invest in housing, including partnering with not-for-profits and housing co-operatives in the mid- to long-term.

Federal Government Extends CEBA Applications for Small Business Loans

In an announcement on August 31, 2020, the Department of Finance Canada announced that the application deadline for CEBA was extended from August 31, 2020 to October 31, 2020. CEBA was introduced on April 9, 2020 to provide interest-free, partially forgivable loans of up to $40,000 to help cover the operating costs of small businesses and certain charities and not-for-profits whose revenues have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition to extending the deadline for CEBA applications, the government indicated that it was increasing flexibility to allow more organizations to access CEBA. In this regard, the government stated that it was working with financial institutions to make CEBA available to applicants with qualifying payroll or non-deferrable expenses that have, to date, been unable to apply for CEBA because they do not operate from a business banking account.

Federal Government Extends CECRA Rent Relief

The Department of Finance Canada announced on September 8, 2020, that the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (“CECRA”) for small businesses would be extended by one month through to the end of September, 2020 to provide commercial rent relief for eligible small businesses, including charities and not-for-profits. As discussed in Charity & NFP Law Bulletin No. 475, the CECRA program lowers commercial rent payments for small businesses that rent property from qualifying commercial landlords by 75%. Landlords and tenants must agree that tenants will pay 25% of their monthly rent, with landlords covering another 25%, and with the federal and provincial government covering the remaining 50% through forgivable loans. With this extension, CECRA relief will now be available for the months of April to September, 2020, with the opt-in deadline extended to October 30, 2020. The government has indicated that this is the final extension of CECRA.

Ontario Amends Stage 3 Order and Extends Current Orders to October 22, 2020

As announced on September 19, 2020, the Ontario government has amended O. Reg 364/20, Rules for Areas in Stage 3, under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act. As a result, the limits on “unmonitored and private social gatherings”, as well as organized public events, have been lowered across the province to 10 people for indoor gatherings and 25 for outdoor gatherings. It is not entirely clear whether the limits for weddings, funerals and religious services, rites and ceremonies remain unchanged from those discussed in COVID-19 Resource for Charities & NFPs: Ontario Moving to Stage 3 of COVID-19 Reopening Framework. The regulation provides that social gatherings associated with a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite or ceremony, such as a wedding reception are subject to the lower limits of 10 people for indoor gatherings and 25 for outdoor gatherings, while the limits that apply to the wedding, funeral or religious service, rite or ceremony itself remain unchanged from the limits of 50 for indoor gatherings and 100 for outdoor gatherings.

The government also extended all orders under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, in force on September 17, 2020 until October 22, 2020. Those orders, including O. Reg 364/20, Rules for Areas in Stage 3, discussed above, had been set to expire on September 22, 2020. Orders that have been extended are listed in O. Reg 458/20, Extension of Orders, under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act.

Read the September 2020 Charity & NFP Law Update