Ontario Government’s COVID-19 Action Plan
On March 25, 2020, the Ontario government released “Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19” containing a $17 billion response to the COVID-19 crisis including an additional $3.3 billion for health care, $3.7 billion to support people and jobs, and $10 billion to support businesses.
To save you time, Stern Cohen’s Tax Partner Adam Morke has summarized their response and provided the highlights below.
- Increased EHT exemption – The Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption would increase from $490,000 to $ 1 million for 2020. The increase is retroactive to January 1, 2020. The exemption would return to its current level of $490,000 on January 1, 2021.
- Deferral for payment of most provincially administered taxes – Beginning April 1, 2020, the Ontario government is providing a five-month interest and penalty-free period for businesses to make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes including the Employer Health Tax (EHT), Tobacco Tax, and Gas Tax.
- Deferring the upcoming quarterly (June 30) remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days. This will provide municipalities with the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals to local residents and businesses; and
- Ability for employers to defer reporting and remittance of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums, starting in March 2020, until August 31, 2020. More details here – https://www.wsib.ca/en/financialrelief
- Regional Corporate 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. The credit is a 10% refundable credit.
- Seniors – Doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) for low-income seniors to a maximum payment of $166 per month for individuals and $332 per month for couples for six months, starting in April 2020;
- Child care – Helping families pay for extra costs associated with school and daycare closure during the COVID‑19 outbreak by providing a one-time $200 payment per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including kids enrolled in private schools;
- OSAP Relief – Six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for student borrowers, in partnership with the federal government;
- Electricity – Setting electricity prices for time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days.
- LEAP – Expanding eligibility for the Low‑income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID‑19 outbreak;
- First Nations – Providing new, additional support of $26 million to 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;
- $2.1 billion in new measures to support the COVID‑19 response with:
- A dedicated $1 billion COVID‑19 contingency fund;
- $341 million for hospital capacity to increase assessments and treatment;
- $243 million for long-term care home emergency capacity and virus containment measures;
- $100 million more for public health;
- $170 million for community capacity, homecare and Telehealth Ontario;
- $62 million for health care workers in assessment centres, hospitals and the community;
- $75 million for personal protective equipment and critical medical supplies;
- Approximately $80 million for ambulance and paramedic services; and
- Approximately $70 million for infection control measures in retirement homes, residential facilities and emergency shelters.
- An additional $1.2 billion to meet demand for services in the health and long-term care sector.