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July 21, 2020

Manitoba-Specific Support for Individuals and Businesses

LAST UPDATED July 21, 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; and
  • have 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

The Manitoba government has announced the Summer Student Recovery Plan. This is a wage subsidy program to support high school and post-secondary students employed in the private and non-profit sectors. For the first two weeks of the program, priority will be given to employers who do not qualify for the various federal government assistance programs.

Under the new program, up to $120 million is available for employers to access a $7 per hour wage subsidy, up to a maximum of $5,000 per student. The program is open to Manitoba students aged 15 to 29, with an employment period from May 1, 2020, to September 4, 2020. Employers can be subsidized to hire up to five students. Reimbursement will be provided at the end of the employment period, upon proof of payment of student wages. Employers must place students in jobs that can be accommodated under current public health orders and be able to adapt to recommendations provided by public health officials over the summer.

The full news release can be found here

Tax Filings and Remittances

Manitoba has extended the deadlines for certain monthly Retail Sales Tax (RST) remittances to June 22, 2020 (from April 20 and May 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 22, 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 quarterly to June 22, 2020 (from April 20, 2020).

Manitoba has likewise extended the deadlines for certain monthly Post Secondary Health and Education Tax Levy (HET) remittances to June 15, 2020 (from April 15 and May 15, 2020). 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 June 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

Finally, Manitoba has announced that it is postponing all residential eviction hearings (with exceptions for health and safety issues, including unlawful activity) and suspending any rent increases scheduled to take effect on April 1, 2020, or later.

City of Winnipeg Tax Relief & State of Emergency

The City of Winnipeg has suspended penalties for unpaid property and business taxes for up to three months following their due date. 

Property taxes due at the end of June will have penalties waived for three months, with no penalties being imposed until October 1, 2020. Business taxes due at the end of May will also have penalties waived for three months, with no penalties being imposed until September 1, 2020. 

In addition, the city has waived tax instalment payment plan (TIPP) program penalties and insufficient funds (NSF) fees on both taxes until October 1, 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 September 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 is allowing taxpayers not currently enrolled in the TIPP program to enroll in same between April 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020, with no fee.

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.  Mayor Bowman has indicated that the city has no immediate plans to exercise these powers.

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.

Manitoba Back to Work This Summer Program

The Manitoba government has announced the Back to Work This Summer Program. This is a hiring program aimed at easing the road ahead for Manitoba businesses as they recover from COVID-19 by covering 50% of wage costs for up to 10 weeks to encourage private sector employers to bring back their employees or hire new ones.

Under the program, employers are eligible to receive a 50% reimbursement for total wages paid during a 10-week period falling between June 1 and August 30, 2020, up to a maximum of $5,000 per worker, for up to five workers. The program only applies to wages paid for employees hired on or after June 1, 2020, (including previous employees laid off due to COVID-19, provided that they had not been re-hired prior to June 1, 2020), and an employer’s application must be submitted on or before August 1, 2020. An employer may only receive funding for up to a combined maximum of five positions in total under both the Manitoba Summer Student Recovery Jobs Program and the Manitoba Back to Work This Summer Program.

To be eligible for this reimbursement, a business must meet all of the following criteria:

  • Be a Manitoba-based business operating in the Province of Manitoba.
  • Possess an active and valid Business Number, business bank account, and e-mail address.
  • Be registered and in good standing with the Companies Office (this is not required for sole proprietors).
  • Businesses must not have received funding support from another government program for the same position(s), including the Canada Summer Job Program, Green Team, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, and Manitoba Summer Student Recovery Jobs Program (this does not include the Federal government’s 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers).

However, employers are not eligible if:

  • They were in arrears for taxes owing to Manitoba on March 20, 2020, and not have not rectified this amount in arrears (this does not apply to businesses who deferred taxes using COVID-19 programs).
  • They conduct multilevel marketing, or passive business, or corporate entities that do not exist for the purpose of carrying on an active business in Manitoba.
  • They currently have an active Manitoba Business Start Loan Guarantee, a loan under the Manitoba Industrial Opportunities Program, or an agreement under The Community Revitalization Tax Increment Financing Act.
  • They are a charity or not-for-profit organization.
  • They are a public sector employer.

The program is open to all workers legally entitled to work in Canada, including students, with the exception of members of the employer’s immediate family. All positions are eligible for this funding, regardless of work hours and term. Workers hired under this program may be employees who were previously laid-off due to COVID-19, provided they had not been rehired prior to June 1, 2020, or a new employee so long as they do not displace any existing employees.

The full information, as well as how to apply, can be found here.

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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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