Coronavirus Information for TMA149 Members – March 27, 2020

March 27, 2020 – To our Members,

In this latest update I will go through the Newly Announced Wage Subsidy and HST Remittance Delay, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, Other measures for Taxation, Housing, Emergency Funds, and link you to a recording of our Town Hall, as well as advocacy efforts through SaveLiveArts.ca.  This afternoon the government of Canada announced the intention to provide a 75% wage subsidy for small business.  As has been the trend, this initial announcement did not come with any detail for those of you who are business owners, or who may have questions about how this might impact your cancelled gigs.  We will update you when we know more. The government also announced today that they will allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST). I believe top of mind for everyone is the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.  By the time relief legislation was passed regular Employment Insurance, the proposed Canada Support Benefit and the Canada Emergency Benefit were all rolled into one platform titled the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).  We still highly recommend that if you are considering applying for this benefit that you immediately ensure you have access to at least your CRA My Account.  We believe CRA My Account will be the easier of the two portals to access. We believe the applications will open April 6, 2020 and be retroactive until March 15, 2020.

  • CLICK HERE to register for, or sign into, your CRA My Account, we recommend using the option of a sign in partner which will allow you to use an account you sign into more frequently, such as online banking, in order to access your CRA My Account.

The following is the best information we have regarding the CERB:

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

The federal government has combined two emergency benefit measures that it announced earlier to provide support to individuals affected by COVID-19 into one new benefit, the CERB.

What is it?

  • The CERB is a form of income support implemented under the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit Act (CERB Act). This new benefit is not part of the Employment Insurance (EI) regime, and an eligible worker does not need to meet the EI insurable hours eligibility rules to qualify.
  • It applies to any four-week period falling within the period beginning March 15, 2020 and ending October 3, 2020 that an individual meets the eligibility criteria described below.

Who is eligible?

  • The CERB is available to employees and self-employed workers who:
    • have income of $5,000 or more from employment, self-employment, or pregnancy or parental EI benefits in the 12 months preceding the application for the CERB;
    • are at least age 15 and a resident of Canada;
    • “cease working for reasons related to COVID-19” for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which they apply for the payment; and
    • do not receive, in respect of those 14 days:
      • income from employment or self-employment;
      • EI benefits; or
      • pregnancy or parental benefits under a provincial plan.
  • Although not specified in the CERB Act, the federal government’s COVID-19 website describes the following as workers who could be eligible for the CERB:
    • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19
    • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures
    • employees whose employment has not been terminated but who are not being paid and were asked by their employer not to work because of a shortage of work.
  • It appears that workers are eligible for the CERB whether they would qualify for EI or not.
  • The Regulations to be made under the CERB Act can specify types of employment income that will not affect the 14 day requirement. The government’s website indicates that the CERB is intended for workers who do not have access to paid leave or other income support.

How much is it?

  • The amount of the CERB will be specified in the Regulations. According to the government’s news release, the CERB is $2,000 per month for up to 16 weeks. It is taxable income.
  • It is not clear whether the monthly $2,000 payment will be pro-rated for a period without work between two and four weeks, but it does appear that it will not be payable if the worker is without work for less than 14 consecutive days in a four week period. It is expected that the Regulations under the CERB Act may clarify some of these questions once they are released.
  • We have heard it is possible the submission process may be simple and require little proof, with the burden of proof arriving later or upon income tax submission

When and how can workers apply?

  • The application is expected to be available online in early April, April 6 we believe.
  • Applicants are expected to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application.
  • The CERB will be paid every four weeks and will be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020. It appears that a worker may need to reapply every four weeks until reaching the 16-week limit, assuming they continue to be not working due to COVID-19.
  • Application guidelines have not yet been released.

Other Measures

Taxation Benefits and Extensions

  • Individuals will not have to file their tax returns until June 1/20 and can defer any payments until after August 31/20 (however for some families may be advantaged to file earlier with respect to increasing child benefit etc.)
  • Ottawa will temporarily boost the Canada Child Benefit.- one time boost expected in May
  • In May, Ottawa will boost the GST credit (one time) to help lower income people, which is a tax-free payment sent to Canadians. “Every adult who qualifies will receive up to $300 with $150 for every child”-(amount may change)
  • For people paying off student loans, the government will put in place a six-month moratorium on repayment of their loans.
  • The government also announced today that they will allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST).

Housing

  • No Evictions in Ontario -The Attorney General has indicated that no new orders will be issued and to postpone the scheduled enforcement of eviction orders.
  • Mortgages: The Federal Government, through the Canada Mortgage Housing Coporation (CMHC), is providing increased flexibility for homeowners facing financial difficulties to defer mortgage payments on homeowner CMHC-insured mortgage loans.
  • Access to Housing (Housing Connections) offices at 176 Elm St. are closed. Clients are encouraged to submit applications by fax, online or by mail. Information on Rent-Geared to Income Housing is available online (toronto.ca/accesstohousing) or by contacting Housing Help Centres.
  • Extensions for utility bill payments are in place
  • All city operated shelters, respites and 24-hour women’s drop ins remain open and support activities continue. Streets to Homes outreach is ongoing.

TOArtist COVID Response Fund

To assist Toronto artists in dealing with the impacts of the COVID-19 crisis, Toronto Arts Foundation and Toronto Arts Council are introducing the TOArtist COVID Response Fund. The Fund will allocate up to $1000 to self-employed, individual artists resident in Toronto whose creative work and income have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

TMA149 Initiatives

Save Live Arts

Please remember to consider and ask your contacts to consider signing onto a set of asks of all levels of government under the title Save Live Arts.  You may review the asks and sign the petition at www.savelivearts.ca.

Covid-19 Update Archive

We are archiving these updates here, and there are other resources listed:
https://tma149.ca/2016-01-26-02-05-12/press-releases/349-coronovirus-information-for-tma149-members

Recording of March 25, 2020 Town Hall

https://tma149.ca/2016-01-26-02-05-12/press-releases/349-coronovirus-information-for-tma149-members

Suspension of Dues Penalties and Reinstatement Fees, Extension of Life Member Dues Deadline

In response to the economic needs of our membership the Board of Directors of TMA149 has decided to make a motion to the membership to suspend all late fees, penalties and reinstatement fees found in Articles 14 1(c), (2), (3), (4) and (5) of the TMA149 By-Laws.  This means that if you fall behind on dues you will be able to bring your membership into good standing by simply paying for missing quarters. Further to provide relief for our longest standing and most senior members the Board of Directors has extended the deadline to pay for 2020 Life Membership from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020.

TMA149 Health Benefits

Further, although no rule changes were required, the Board of Directors wishes to clarify that all members who have been diagnosed with, or tested positive for, Covid-19 may apply for support to the TMA149 Health Benefit and Extended Health Benefit, as well as the Federation’s Lester Petrillo Memorial Fund for Disabled Musicians.

TMA149 Office

Our office is now physically closed and we are working from home.  Although we are still accepting phone calls, mail and courier delivery, we ask that you access services by email whenever possibleThose working please do continue to send contracts, reports, dues and pension contributions.

Resource List

We also wanted to repeat the list of additional resources:

A number of other relief funds have been established for those and other Covid-19 Resources, please review this list put together by CARFAC. Again feel free to reach out to myself or any of our office staff with specific requests including regular business inquiries.

In Solidarity, Michael Murray, Executive Director