The grim one year anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic in Canada has highlighted that many businesses across the country continue to struggle financially. Two Federal assistance programs, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) and the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) have helped by giving out a combined total of over $77 billion in subsidies, but it is not enough for many small and medium-sized businesses.1
The CEWS was announced nearly a year ago to prevent job loss by encouraging employers to maintain or re-hire workers previously laid off via wage subsidies based on revenue loss.2 To date, the CEWS has received 3,171,960 applications (3,141,900 of which have been approved), and has meted out $74.25 billion in subsidies.3 About six months later, the CERS was introduced as a subsidy to help cover businesses’ commercial rent or property expenses, providing payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.4 To date, 725,240 applications have been received for the CERS (698,990 of which have been approved), and $2.76 billion worth of CERS subsidies have been paid out.5
Despite the existence of these two expansive programs, however, there remain many businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, that require greater financial assistance than the programs can provide. As such, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) is working with participating Canadian financial institutions to offer the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) Guarantee. The HASCAP Guarantee is a government-guaranteed loan of $25,000 to $1 million to help cover the operational cash flow needs of small and medium-sized businesses.6 Additionally, these businesses will “benefit from a 4% interest rate and a repayment term of up to 10 years”, plus “up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan”. 7
The eligibility criteria for the HASCAP Guarantee appears complicated. The good news is that if your business is already receiving payments from either the CEWS or the CERS, you are one step closer to being eligible for the HASCAP Guarantee. One of the primary criteria for the HASCAP Guarantee requires demonstrating a minimum 50% revenue decline for at least three months (not necessarily consecutive) within the eight-month period prior to the date of application.8 For those who have received CEWS or CERS payments, this eligibility requirement is satisfied. Even if your business does not qualify for the CEWS or the CERS, you may still be eligible for the HASCAP Guarantee by submitting financial statements reflecting the aforementioned revenue decline. Other conditions of eligibility include being in operation as of March 1, 2020, having been financially stable and viable prior to the current economic situation, and meeting certain risk rating requirements.9
Since the start of the pandemic, various organizations and governments have been providing financial support to businesses. However, it can be difficult to find all of the information in one place, to navigate the eligibility criteria for each program, and to keep up with the changes to the program requirements. Some relief programs have closed, some were depleted before many businesses and individuals could apply, and others are still available.
Blue J’s COVID-19 Relief Programs and Credits Guided Analysis can help you find financial relief programs and credits for which your business may be eligible, including the HASCAP Guarantee. Blue J has gathered information and analyzed the eligibility criteria on over 190 relief programs and credits across Canada. This tool is completely free and easy to use. After you answer an online questionnaire, Blue J will display for you which relief programs and credits the business or individual may be eligible. Blue J is committed to frequently updating the tool to help you make relevant and timely decisions for your business. The deadline to apply for the HASCAP Guarantee is June 30, 2021.
1 Canada Revenue Agency, Claims to date - Canada emergency wage subsidy (CEWS), <https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy/cews-statistics.html> accessed April 16, 2021; Canada Revenue Agency, Claims to date - Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and Lockdown Support, <https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-rent-subsidy/cers-statistics.html> accessed April 16, 2021.
2 Department of Finance Canada, Additional Details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, April 11 2020 <https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/04/additional-details-on-the-canada-emergency-wage-subsidy0.html> accessed April 19, 2021.
3 Supra, note 1.
4 Canada Revenue Agency, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), <https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-rent-subsidy.html> accessed April 19, 2021.
5 Supra, note 1.
6 BDC, Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) Guarantee, <https://www.bdc.ca/en/special-support/hascap> accessed April 19, 2021.
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