The Ontario Government is enabling $1.9 billion in relief for employers to reduce the financial strain on business brought on by COVID-19. The measure, which will run through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), will see premium payments deferred for six months for all businesses in the province.
“During this unprecedented period of uncertainty and hardship, our government is doing everything possible to support businesses and protect jobs,” said Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development. “By making this change today, we are building upon the substantial financial help we are providing business owners and workers. The top priority is to keep people safe.”
All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package and can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. They will not be required to opt in to receive this benefit.
Additionally, the WSIB will cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments. They will not charge penalties during this six-month deferral period. There will be no negative consequences for businesses who defer premium reporting and payments. The WSIB will continue to fully cover workers at eligible workplaces.
“We have worked closely with the Government of Ontario to help Ontario businesses as they face this unprecedented challenge,” said Elizabeth Witmer, Chair of the WSIB. “We’re here to help.”
The relief program is part of a $17 billion package included in Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19.
The government’s action plan will make available $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals to improve their cash flow, protecting jobs and household budgets.
Additionally, through the WSIB, the government reduced costs to employers by a new rate framework and the elimination of the unfunded liability charge, putting more than $2 billion back into the economy.
“Our government is working day and night to provide Ontarians with certainty and support during this difficult time. This Relief Package being implemented by the WSIB will help sustain businesses, protect our economy and save jobs,” said Minister McNaughton.
The financial relief package allows businesses to defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. Businesses who report and pay monthly, quarterly or annually based on their insurable earnings are eligible for this deferral.
Each customer reports and pays on the previous full month or quarter, for example March 31 reporting and payment obligation covers the period of February 1-29. The following payments are eligible for deferral:
- March 31, April 30, May 31, June 30, July 31, Aug 31
- April 30, July 31
- April 30
The relief package also applies to Schedule 2 organizations – publicly funded organizations (municipalities, hospitals, school boards), and other businesses who are involved in federally regulated industries. All payment obligations (weekly and monthly) for Schedule 2 businesses will be deferred until August, 31, 2020.
No interest will accrue on outstanding premium payments for Schedule 1 businesses and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period. Schedule 2 account balances will not accrue debit interest as part of the financial relief package.
The best way to manage your account is through our online services or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you need urgent assistance with your account, please call us at 1-800-387-0750, Monday to Friday 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Specific Business Support Initiatives
To help businesses during the crisis, the government is proposing to double the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption in 2020. Through this change, about 57,000 private-sector employers would pay less EHT in 2020, including about 30,000 more who would not pay EHT this year. This amounts to a tax cut of $355 million.
In addition, the government is taking aim at regional economic disparities through the launch of a proposed new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit, which would be available to eligible businesses that build, renovate or acquire qualifying commercial and industrial buildings in designated regions of the province, saving them up to $45,000 in the year.
The government is also providing flexibility to businesses in Ontario that find it challenging to meet their tax obligations during this crisis.
The period between April 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020 will be interest and penalty-free for businesses who are unable to file and make payments on time for select provincially administered taxes. This is expected to free up as much as $6 billion in cash flow for about 100,000 businesses.
This measure would complement the federal government’s March 18, 2020 announcement that it would provide relief from interest and penalties from not remitting Corporate Income Tax owing.
To provide additional support, the WSIB is allowing employers to defer premium payments for up to six months, providing immediate relief of up to $1.9 billion. Moreover, the Province and municipalities will continue to work in partnership to address the current crisis and support businesses.
That’s why we will also be postponing the property tax reassessment that was scheduled to be conducted in 2020 for the 2021 tax year. Postponing the reassessment provides certainty to all municipalities, residents, and businesses in 2020.
We are also providing the option to defer the education property tax payment municipalities make to school boards for 90 days. This would defer the June 30th quarterly municipal remittance to school boards which provides municipalities with the flexibility, in turn, to provide over $1.8 billion in property tax deferral to residents and businesses.