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September 21, 2020

Manitoba-specific support for individuals and businesses

LAST UPDATED September 25, 2020

The Province of Manitoba has announced the following measures to help Manitoban businesses and individuals facing hardship as a result of the pandemic. This bulletin provides a summary of the Manitoba government’s announcements. We will update this summary as new information becomes available.

Manitoba Gap Protection Program

On April 22, 2020, Manitoba announced the Manitoba Gap Protection Program (MGPP), providing support for any of Manitoba’s small- and medium-sized businesses which face significant challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic and fall into a gap by which they do not qualify for any of the various federal government assistance programs and wage subsidies created on account of COVID-19.

Manitoba will advance to each eligible business an MGPP loan in the amount of $6,000, up to a total of up to $120 million. Details of any application process have not yet been announced. The loans will be forgiven on December 31, 2020, to all recipient businesses which can attest at that time that they have not received any major non-repayable COVID-19 supports such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account, as well as sector-specific grant federal programs specifically developed in response to the pandemic.  If the applicant has received benefits under a federal COVID program, then the loan will be added to the recipient’s 2020 tax bill.

To be eligible for MGPP funding, a business must:

  • have been operational on March 20, 2020, the date the Manitoba government declared a provincewide state of emergency under The Emergency Measures Act because of COVID-19;
  • have temporarily ceased or curtailed operations as a result of a COVID-19 public health order and have been harmed by the health order;
  • be registered and in good standing with the Manitoba Business and Corporate Registry;
  • have not qualified for federal government COVID-19 grant support; andhave an email  address and a bank account.

The entire news release issued by Manitoba on April 22, 2020, can be viewed at the following link.  

Summer Student Recovery Plan  

Although the Manitoba Back to Work This Summer initiative ended on September 4, 2020, the provincial government recently announced an extension of the program by two months until December 31, 2020. Employers are now able to rehire students previously hired through the Manitoba Summer Student Recovery Jobs Program, Canada Summer Job Program and Green Team Program. The province confirmed new start-up companies are eligible, providing they have a business number.

Tax Filings and Remittances

Manitoba has extended the deadlines for certain monthly Retail Sales Tax (RST) remittances that would normally be due on April 20, May 20, June 22, July 20, August 20 and September 21to October 20, 2020. The extensions apply only to small and medium businesses with remittances of no more than $10,000 per month for RST.

Likewise, where these eligible businesses were unable to file their February 2020 RST returns by their due date (March 20, 2020), they will not be subject to late filing penalties or interest until after October 20, 2020, respectively.  However, interest will continue to apply on all outstanding tax debts (including RST and HET) established before the March remittance deadlines. The government of Manitoba has also extended the deadline for businesses that file RST returns on a quarterly basis that have a due date of  April 20 and July 20,  to October 20, 2020. Manitoba has likewise extended the deadlines for certain monthly Post Secondary Health and Education Tax Levy (HET) remittances to October 15, 2020(from April 15, May 15, June 15, July 15, August 17 and September 15) . The extensions apply only to small and medium businesses with remittances of no more than $10,000 per month for HET.  Again, where these eligible businesses were unable to file their February 2020 HET returns by their due date (March 16, 2020), they will not be subject to late filing penalties or interest until after October 15, 2020, respectively.  However, interest will continue to apply on all outstanding tax debts (including RST and HET) established before the March remittance deadlines. 

The provincial government has indicated that the Department of Finance will work with businesses regarding “flexible repayment options above the $10,000 cap.”

Manitoba has also extended the deadlines for provincial income tax and corporate tax filing deadlines and payments to coincide with the current revised federal deadline of August 31, 2020, and has indicated it would be prepared to extend these deferrals until October 1, 2020, “should the federal government agree.”

Cash Flow Relief

In addition to the tax filing and remittance deadline extensions set out in the above section, on April 3, 2020, Manitoba announced its adoption of the following protective measures set to run until October 1, 2020:

  • instructing Manitoba Hydro, Centra Gas and Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) to not charge interest or penalties in the event that Manitobans are unable to pay at this time;
  • instructing MPI to relax ordinary practices on policy renewals and collections;
  • instructing Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries not to charge interest on receivables from restaurants, bars and specialty wine stores;
  • supporting Workers Compensation Board (WCB) to do the same and asking WCB to extend relief from penalties for late payments;
  • directing Manitoba Hydro and Centra Gas to not disconnect customers during these times; and
  • working with municipal partners to ensure municipalities do not charge interest on provincial education taxes and school division fees - the province is encouraging municipalities to do the same with respect to their own taxes, and will start discussions to support implementation.

Manitoba has also announced that, effective July 1, 2020, it will eliminate PST on residential and business property insurance.

Child Care for Essential Workers

The province has announced the following measures to assist in providing child care to essential front-line workers:

  • Establishing an $18-million grant program in an effort to assist early childhood educators to independently offer child-care services at their homes or in the community;
  • Continuing to provide licensed child-care centres with their full operating grants and subsidies so that the centres can provide care for up to 16 children, with first priority given the children of health-care and other essential workers;
  • Encouraging all child care centres to reimburse prepaid fees to parents for child care they can no longer access at this time.
  • Creating a $2-million trust fund to provide capital grants to child-care providers to ensure safe, quality care; and
  • Encouraging all child care centres to reimburse prepaid fees to parents for child care they can no longer access at this time.

Postponement of Eviction Hearings and Rent Increase Freezes

The provincial government announced on September 10, 2020, that all provisions pertaining to the Residential Tenancies Branch related to non-urgent evictions, the suspension of hearings for non-urgent orders of possession, late fees for non-payment of rent and freezing rent increases will be repealed, effective October 1, 2020.

The changes allow landlords to begin proceedings for evictions against tenants for non-payment of rent and other non-urgent issues. Landlords will also be able to begin charging late fees on rent that is not paid on time on that date or later, but cannot charge fees on rent that was overdue while the suspension was in place. Rent increases cannot be applied or charged retroactively for the period that the rent freeze was in place.

City of Winnipeg Tax Relief & State of Emergency

The City of Winnipeg has suspended penalties for unpaid property and business taxes until November 30, 2020. Property taxes due at the end of June will have penalties waived for five months, with no penalties being imposed until November 30, 2020. Business taxes due at the end of May will also have penalties waived, with no penalties being imposed until November 20, 2020. 

In addition, the City has waived tax instalment payment plan (TIPP) program penalties and insufficient funds (NSF) fees on both taxes until November 30, 2020. If a taxpayer is currently on the TIPP program, the City will continue to attempt to withdraw monthly TIPP payments, but will simply roll any missed payment amount into the next month’s payment, and not charge penalties or NSF fees until November 30, 2020. The City notes that although it will not charge penalties or NSF fees on missed TIPP program payments during this period, taxpayers’ bank charges related to NSF payments will still apply.

Further, the City has waived the TIPP enrolment fee from April 1, 2020, until November 30, 2020. The City has also declared a local state of emergency, which gives the city sweeping powers to take over properties and limit access to certain areas if required. 

Seniors Economic Recovery Credit

On May 5, 2020, the Province announced the Seniors Economic Recovery Credit, which will provide a one-time refundable tax credit of $200 to all Manitoba seniors, regardless of their income level.  Cheques will be mailed to seniors who filed a 2018 income tax return prior to April 1, 2020.  Seniors whose mailing addresses have changed since the filing of their 2018 income tax returns will have the opportunity to update their addresses with Manitoba Finance through a government web portal manitoba.ca/seniorseconomicrecoverycredit

Those who do not receive a cheque, have not updated their address or are new residents to Manitoba will be able to receive the $200 credit when they file their 2020 tax return.

The Province announced that the $200 credit will not be considered taxable income and will not be used to claw back income-tested benefits to seniors.

We are available.

We recognize the significant economic and personal consequences facing our clients at this time. All our lawyers are available and we’ll do everything we can to help.

Resource first posted March 26, 2020, with reports from Ari Hanson and Nora Fien.

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