April 16, 2020

Summary from April 16 CCPPP Conference Call: COVID-19 & the Infrastructure Sector

Joining us on the call was Rachel Bendayan, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, who gave us an overview of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan the federal government has rolled out to help businesses.

  • The government is making changes to existing programs and creating new ones to alleviate the financial pressures companies face, as well as to restart the economy as quickly and effectively when the time comes.
  • Some of the efforts the government has undertaken to date for businesses include: the Emergency Wage Subsidy, deferring GST for businesses, extending the tax filing deadline and allowing businesses to defer payments on those tax filings until the end of August.
  • Operational costs and cash flow are also an issue, which is why the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) was created. This includes the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) for small businesses. Today, the prime minister announced the expansion of eligibility criteria for CEBA, which means even more businesses should be able to receive assistance, as well as commercial rent assistance.
  • For larger businesses, loans are available of up to $12.5 million, which are also available through local financial institutions.
  • For workers, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) was rolled out to help those without work because of the pandemic with up to $2,000 per month in support.
  • In response to questions from call participants:
  • The Ministry of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade is working with Infrastructure and Communities Minister Catherine McKenna on options to help address infrastructure projects that are delayed and are experiencing subsequent payment delays, including looking for innovative approaches from the sector beyond federal relief and stimulus funding. Also looking at shovel-ready projects in the pipeline to help restart the economy, as well as other projects that will generate wealth and meaningful economic benefits.
  • The federal government doesn’t have exact details yet on how and when the Canadian economy will reopen but it is hard at work on the post-crisis plan. The government is open to ideas from the private sector on how this will work and understands it will be complicated.
  • Employees with salary reductions may now be able to access the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). If they make up to $1,000 per month, they are eligible.
  • There are different views on what are essential workers across Canada when it comes to construction. This will remain a provincial decision and will not be harmonized across the country.
  • Thank you for joining the call. Our next conference call will be held on Thursday, April 23 at 1 p.m.