Menu

Business and Economic Support

Business and Economic Support

Given the evolving nature of the current situation and the flow of information from various levels of government, the Law Society is making the best efforts to monitor this information and provide relevant updates to the membership as soon as practicable.

We understand that law firms are in the midst of accommodating significant changes to their workforce and how everyday business is conducted. We also recognize that the potential impact on law firms is significant.

Over the last several days, all levels of government have announced measures to assist individuals and businesses in an effort to offset some of the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. In order to assist firms and their staff in determining what supports are available, we have provided the relevant links to information regarding government policy changes and financial aid measures that may be of assistance to law firms as they plan on how to move forward.

The Law Society will continue to strive to provide information and supports relevant to our members as expeditiously as possible. We encourage you to check our website regularly for updates and resources assisting members in addressing the new challenges in the provision of legal services.

 

Provincial Resources

Government of Saskatchewan- Information for Businesses and Workers

For ongoing and the most up to date information regarding provincial support initiatives for businesses, please refer to the Government of Saskatchewan's COVID-19 Support of Businesses.

Premier Scott Moe announced a financial support plan for Saskatchewan employers and employees hit by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The financial support plan outlines a number of mechanisms for reducing costs for businesses and individuals, providing support to self-employed individuals not covered by new federal support measures, and establishes a Business Response Team designated to support Saskatchewan businesses during this time of uncertainty.

The following is a summary of the supports announced by the Government of Saskatchewan as of March 26, 2020:

To provide support to Saskatchewan businesses seeking to navigate the uncertain conditions caused by COVID-19, the Government of Saskatchewan has established a single window information webpage for businesses to access information and receive timely updates on provincial support initiatives. This will be complemented by the establishment of a Business Response Team, led by the Ministry of Trade and Export Development, which will work with businesses to identify program supports relevant to particular businesses.

Changes to Employment Standard Regulations

In addition to changes made to changes to The Saskatchewan Employment Act that introduced a new unpaid public health emergency leave and removed the 13-week employment requirement to access sick leave and the requirement for a doctor's note to access sick leave. The Employment Standard Regulations have been amended to:

  • ensure that during a public emergency, businesses will not have to provide notice or pay in lieu of notice when they layoff staff if it is for a period of 12 weeks or less in a 16-week period, and
  • if an employer lays off employees periodically for a total of more than 12 weeks in a 16-week period, the employees are considered to be terminated and are entitled to pay instead of notice as outlined in the Act. This will be calculated from the date on which the employee was laid off.

These amendments create a balance for employers and employees where the difficult decision may be made to layoff employees due to public health emergencies. In this circumstance, employees would have immediate access to new federal employment insurance programs, while keeping employers financially stable to ensure employees have a job to return to.

Provincial Sales Tax

Saskatchewan businesses who are unable to remit their PST due to cashflow concerns will have three-month relief from penalty and interest charges.

Businesses that are unable to file their provincial tax return(s) by the due date may submit a request for relief from penalty and interest charges on the return(s) affected.

Audit program and compliance activities have been suspended to allow businesses time to focus on the health and safety of their customers and staff, reduce impacts to their business operations, and minimize the spread of the virus through reduced audit travel.

For more information call the Saskatchewan tax inquiry line at 1-800-667-6102 or email us at SaskTaxInfo@gov.sk.ca

Provincial Utilities 

All Crown utilities will implement bill-deferral programs allowing a zero-interest bill deferral for up to six months for Saskatchewan customers whose ability to make bill payments may be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions. waving interest on late bill payments for up to six months. Effective immediately, the crown utility interest deferral program is available to all crown utility customers.

 

Public Health Measures in the Workplace

The Government of Saskatchewan has introduced amendments to The Saskatchewan Employment Act to remove the provision requiring a doctor's note or certificate in order to access leave. Requesting written verification from physicians or HealthLine 811 is unnecessary and prevents these resources from being properly utilized at this time. All workplaces and organizations should be implementing their business continuity plans or assessing the risk of exposure and transmission for their staff and clients and make operational decisions accordingly.

 

Managing Staffing and Leave

Rapid Response services and the Employer Services Branch of the Ministry of Immigration and Career Training (ICT) provides services for employers, including customized assistance to attract, develop and retain employees, including assistance for employers to navigate through Government of Saskatchewan and Government of Canada programs and services.

Email: employerservices@gov.sk.ca

Phone: 306-787-7428

Employment Standards will be hosting webinars to provide Saskatchewan businesses with information about newly introduced Public Health Emergency Leave and Public Emergency Layoffs provisions.

The webinars are offered through GoToWebinar, an online software service that uses your computer's internet browser. GoToWebinar will automatically download the required software onto your device when you register:

Friday, March 27 @ 10:00 a.m. Register Here

Monday, March 30 @ 1:30 p.m. Register Here

Wednesday, April 1 @ 1:30 p.m. Register Here

Friday, April 3 @ 1:30 p.m. Register Here

Or, view a previously recorded webinar.

Reducing Employees' Work Hours:

Federal Government's Work-Sharing (WS) temporary special measures, implemented to support employers and workers affected by COVID-19

Public Health Emergency Leave

The Public Health Emergency Leave is for employees required to isolate themselves or care for someone during a public health emergency.

Bill 207 – The Saskatchewan Employment Act

Laying Off Employees

The Saskatchewan Employment Act and Labour Relations & Workplace Safety (LRWS):

Employment Insurance (EI) Benefits

For more information about EI options available for employees, visit:

Or, contact the Government of Canada:

Employer Contact Centre

Toll-free: 1-800-367-5693

TTY: 1-855-881-9874

Sickness Benefits: sick and/or quarantined with COVID-19

1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)

Other Resources 

If you need additional support, the Ministry of Trade and Export Development COVID-19 Business Response Team is available to assist you from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Monday to Friday.

Email: supportforbusiness@gov.sk.ca

Toll-free: 1-844-800-8688

 

Support for Workers

Federal and provincial support is available to help workers affected by COVID-19.

 

Federal Resources

Federal Support for Businesses

For ongoing and the most up to date information regarding federal support initiatives for businesses, please refer back to the Government of Canada's Economic Response Plan

The following is a summary of the supports announced by the Government of Canada as of March 26, 2020:

Tax Temporary wage subsidies

Temporary wage subsidies have been introduced to support eligible small employers, including non-profit organizations and charities. To help prevent layoffs, the government will provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months. Employers benefitting from this include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees' remuneration. For further information see the wage subsidy FAQ's.

Business income taxes

Increased flexibility for businesses filing taxes, including deferred payments and audits. The filing date for 2019 tax returns has been extended from April 30, 2020 to June 1, 2020 and any payments to Canada Revenue Agency can be deferred until August 31, 2020. The CRA will allow all businesses to defer until August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020. This relief applies 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.

The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.

Access to Credit

More access to credit with the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) available through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) will allow the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. This will be an effective tool for helping viable Canadian businesses remain resilient during these very uncertain times. BDC and EDC are cooperating with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation and tourism. The near-term credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector will also be increased through Farm Credit Canada.

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions (OSFI) announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets, effective immediately. This action will allow Canada's large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending into the economy.

The Bank of Canada also took a series of actions to support the Canadian economy during this period of economic stress, enhance the resilience of the Canadian financial system, and help ensure that financial institutions can continue to extend credit to both households and businesses. This included cutting the interest rate to 0.75% as a proactive measure in light of the negative shocks to Canada's economy arising from the COVID-19 pandemic and the recent sharp drop in oil prices.

Supporting Financial Market Liquidity

As a further proactive and coordinated measure to bolster the financial system and the Canadian economy, the government announced on March 16 that it is launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP). Under this program, the government will purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada's mortgage market. Details of the terms of the purchase operations will be provided to lenders by CMHC later this week.

The IMPP enhances the already substantial set of measures announced on March 13 to support the economy and the financial system. CMHC stands ready to further support liquidity and the stability of the financial markets through its mortgage funding programs as necessary.

Further, the Bank of Canada has announced that it will adjust its market liquidity operations to maintain market functioning and credit availability during the current period of uncertainty in which conditions are evolving rapidly. The Bank of Canada also announced that it will broaden eligible collateral for its term repo facility to include the full range of collateral eligible under the Standing Liquidity Facility, with the exception of the non-mortgage loan portfolio. This expansion of eligible collateral will provide support to funding conditions for financial institutions by providing a backstop to regular private funding. The Bank also announced that it stands ready, as a proactive measure, to provide support to the Canada Mortgage Bond (CMB) market so that this important funding market continues to function well. This would include, as required, purchases of CMBs in the secondary market. Similar to the increase in Government of Canada bond buybacks, this will support market liquidity and price discovery.

Employment Insurance - Record of Employment

If your employees are directly affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19) and they are no longer working, you must issue a Record of Employment (ROE).

  • When the employee is sick or quarantined, use code D (Illness or injury) as the reason for separation (block 16). Do not add comments.
  • When the employee is no longer working due to a shortage of work because the business has closed or decreased operations due to coronavirus (COVID-19), use code A (Shortage of work). Do not add comments.
  • When the employee refuses to come to work but is not sick or quarantined, use code E (Quit) or code N (Leave of absence), as appropriate. Avoid adding comments unless absolutely necessary.

Work-Sharing Program

The Work-Sharing program is implementing temporary special measures to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19. The new temporary special measures are available to employers impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The measures allow for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19. The temporary special measures will:

  • extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks
  • wave the mandatory waiting period between agreements
  • ease the recovery plan requirements

Access the Work-Sharing page to learn more about the program and its requirements.

Access the Work-Sharing temporary special measures page to find out if you are eligible for temporary special measures.

Other Resources and Links

City of Regina:

City of Saskatoon:

City of Moose Jaw:

City of Prince Albert: