Ontario Government Support Measures
Ontario Government Support Measures
The Ontario Legislature has passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 to provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or day care closures or to care for other relatives. These measures are retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.
Workplace Safety Expenses Deferral
Working in conjunction with the government of Ontario, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will allow employers to defer payments for a period of six months. This will provide employers with $1.9 billion in financial relief.
All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial relief package. Schedule 1 employers with premiums owed to the WSIB will be allowed to defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020.
The deferral will also apply to Schedule 2 businesses that pay WSIB for the cost related to their workplace injury and illness claims. In addition, no interest will be accrued on outstanding premium payments and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period.
The Province is providing immediate financial support to vulnerable seniors, by proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) maximum payment for low-income seniors, for six months starting in April 2020. This would increase the maximum payment to $166 per month for individuals and $332 per month for couples.
The government is also working with province-wide organizations including Ontario Community Support Association (OCSA) and Older Adults Centres’ Association of Ontario (OACAO) to identify and mobilize potential volunteer supports and expand the use of innovative technologies in the community to address social isolation and support daily living assistance.
The Government of Ontario is partnering with SPARK Ontario (bilingual volunteer portal) to help seniors and the most vulnerable stay connected and healthy as they self isolate during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Volunteer organizations can visit www.sparkontario.ca to post volunteer opportunities available in their communities. Ontarians interested in volunteering are encouraged to check the website for opportunities to make a difference where they live.
The government is providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including kids enrolled in private schools.
Families can complete a simple online application at Ontario’s Support for Families web page to access this financial support. Parents already receiving Support for Parents payments through direct deposit will be automatically eligible for this financial support and do not need to submit a new application.
Effective April 10, 2020, the government is preventing any child care operator from charging fees where care is not being provided. Moreover, the order also means that parents cannot lose their child care space because they are not paying fees during this period.
Temporarily suspending Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan repayments between March 30, 2020 and September 30, 2020, during which time borrowers will not be required to make any loan or interest payments.
Emergency Assistance Program
Expanding access to the emergency assistance program administered by Ontario Works to provide financial support to people facing economic hardship and help them with basic needs, such as food and rent during this public health emergency. For further information and to apply, visit: https://www.ontario.ca/page/apply-emergency-assistance?_ga=2.15927350.1205154104.1586456993-701691611.1585162533
Residential Relief Fund for Agencies
The Residential Relief Fund will help to address financial and service delivery pressures that agencies are feeling during this time. These funds will help to manage the health and safety of children, youth and adults supported in residential settings, as well as the staff who support them. Agencies also will have the financial flexibility agencies to shift funding within their organization and across program areas to focus on critical services and needs in relation to COVID-19.
Funding will be provided upon request to agencies with residential service programs, and should be requested through a Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services (MCCSS) regional or corporate office.
For questions or additional information, agencies should contact their ministry Program Supervisor/MCCSS Contact.
Indigenous Peoples and Communities
The government is providing supports of $26 million for Indigenous Peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous People in financial need and costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations.
Providing direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low‑income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP), and by ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID‑19 outbreak.
The Province is also setting electricity prices for residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days to address concerns about time-of-use metering. This discount will be applied automatically to electricity bills without the need for customers to fill out an application form.
Supporting Small Business
Beginning April 1, 2020, the government is providing a five-month interest and penalty-free period for businesses to make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes. This will continue for a period of five months, up until August 31, 2020.
For this period, the Province will not apply any penalty or interest on any late-filed returns or incomplete or late tax payments under select provincially administered taxes, such as the Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax and Gas Tax.
Employer Health Tax Exemption
The government is cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers by proposing a temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption from $490,000 to $1 million for 2020. With this plan, more than 90 per cent of private-sector employers would not pay EHT in 2020.
Eligible private-sector employers with annual payrolls up to $5 million would be exempt from EHT on the first $1 million of total Ontario remuneration in 2020. The maximum EHT relief from the exemption would increase by $9,945 to $19,500 for 2020 for eligible employers.
The exemption would return to its current level of $490,000 on January 1, 2021.
Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit
To support business investment in regions of the province where employment growth has been significantly below the provincial average, Ontario is proposing a new 10 per cent refundable Corporate Income Tax credit.
The Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit would be available to eligible businesses that construct, renovate or acquire qualifying commercial and industrial buildings in designated regions of the province, saving them up to $45,000 in the year.
Education Property Tax Deferrals
The government is working closely with municipalities as they introduce measures to provide property tax relief, for example, by allowing taxpayers to defer property tax payments. To encourage these actions, the government is deferring the property tax payments municipalities make to school boards by 90 days.
In addition to collecting municipal property taxes, municipalities collect and remit education property taxes to school boards on a quarterly basis. Deferring the June 30 quarterly remittance to school boards by 90 days will provide municipalities with the flexibility to, in turn, provide over $1.8 billion in property tax deferrals to residents and businesses.
To ensure this does not have a financial impact on school boards, the Province will adjust payments to school boards to offset the deferral.
Ontario Together Fund
The Fund will support the development of essential equipment and supplies.
Individuals and businesses can submit their proposals through the Ontario Together web portal here: https://www.ontario.ca/page/how-your-organization-can-help-fight-coronavirus?_ga=2.39404579.1205154104.1586456993-701691611.1585162533