Govt. aid programs helpful but more assistance needed, says ACTA

Updates to govt.’s financial assistance programs positive, says ACTA

TORONTO — ACTA has outlined its responses to recent updates by the federal government to its financial assistance programs, in particular updates to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), which agents can qualify for even if they’re still receiving some commission.

While ACTA voiced its approval of the changes in its April 16 webinar, ACTA President Wendy Paradis has provided additional feedback for ACTA’s members. Paradis says ACTA has been participating daily on calls with the government and has advocated for some of these changes that have been raised by industry members.

Here’s a look at the updates and ACTA’s response …

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) 

Paradis says ACTA welcomed the April 15 announcement by the federal government of changes to the eligibility rules to allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting CERB.

“ACTA has pressed the federal government on this point on our daily calls, especially as it is one of the most asked questions posed to ACTA by members, in particular by those travel agents receiving commission payments,” said Paradis.

The updated guidelines state you may not earn more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income for a period of at least 14 consecutive days within the initial four-week period of your claim, or $1,000 in total for the entire four-week benefit period for each subsequent claim. Applications for CERB can be filed through either Service Canada or CRA.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) 

On April 16 the government made additional changes to CEBA, extending the payroll threshold range to $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019.  This program is designed for small businesses to help cover operating costs during a period where revenues have been temporarily reduced.

Agencies should contact their financial institution to apply for an interest-free, government-backed loan of up to $40,000, with up to $10,000 forgivable if they pay it back before the end of 2022.

Paradis notes: “Please let ACTA know if a financial institution (i.e. credit union) is not participating in the program, and ACTA will notify the government.”

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

Also on April 16, the federal government announced its intent to introduce CECRA for small business.

“ACTA has raised this concern to the federal government even knowing that it was a provincial matter,” said Paradis. “We are pleased that the federal government will work with the provinces and territories, who are responsible for the property owner-tenant relationship.”

The program will seek to provide loans and/or forgivable loans to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. More details will be coming for this program soon, says Paradis.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

Online applications for CEWS, the 75% wage subsidy program for employers, are expected to open April 27, says Paradis, with the majority of applications being processed on May 4 and payment received later that week.

Canada Regional Development Agencies 

On April 17 the government announced $675 million to give through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies. As this program was just announced, further investigation is required to determine how travel agencies can benefit, says Paradis.