In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBSA is temporarily reducing service hours at a total of 27 Canadian land border locations. The temporary hour adjustments are in effect as of April 15, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT and will remain in effect until the expiration date of the Order in Council made under the Quarantine Act prohibiting entry into Canada from the United States. Please see the following for additional information here.Finance Update:
CHANGES (highlighted below) have been made to the criteria regarding the newly announced Canada Emergency Business Account which can provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Business owners can apply for support from the Canada Emergency Business Account through their banks and credit unions. IF, farming enterprises file as an “individual” (as opposed to corporate, etc.) the filing due date for 2019 income tax returns for individuals has been deferred until June 1, 2020. Any new income tax balances due, or instalments, are also being deferred until after August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
CRA is allowing all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
There has been an allowance made for businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 their payments of the GST/HST, as well as customs duty owing on their imports. Any GST/HST payment that becomes owing from March 27 until the end of May can be deferred until the end of June. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May.
For more detailed information on the above four points, click here.
Advance Payment Program Clarification:
Producers can have multiple outstanding advances for various commodities across multiple program years, as long as their total APP advances remain under the $1 million cap. Therefore, farmers who still have interest-free loans outstanding that are covered under the announced Stay of Default currently have the opportunity to apply for new cash advances and receive up to $100,000 interest-free for the new program year.
Temporary Foreign Workers (TFW) and other labour issues:
TFW workers and flights continue to arrive. Farming and agrifood employers bringing TFWs to Canada will get $1500/worker support to make sure employees can self-isolate for 14 days on arrival. That self-isolation order applies to TFWs and anyone else who’s still allowed to enter Canada following the March 21 ban on all non-essential entry, and exempts only certain workers such as truckers, medical personnel and firefighters
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE):
Due to potential critical shortages of PPE during the COVID-19 response, we would like to share with you information that you may find of interest.
- Guidance on re-using N95 masks: On April 8, 2020, Health Canada released a Notice on important regulatory considerations for the reprocessing of single use N95 respirators during the COVID-19 response. Health Canada is currently monitoring and assessing the acceptability of various decontamination and sterilization methods/strategies for the reprocessing of single use N95 respirators in the context of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Guidance on using N95 beyond their shelf-life: While most masks have a limited shelf life, in times of increased demand and decreased supply, consideration can be made to use these expired N95 respirators. Please consult Health Canada’s website to read this guidance.
- Considerations on the use of homemade masks: Health Canada provides considerations in the use of homemade masks to protect against COVID-19. Wearing a facial covering/non-medical mask in the community has not been proven to protect the person wearing it and is not a substitute for physical distancing and hand washing. However, it can be an additional measure you can take to protect others around you, even if you have no symptoms. It can be useful for short periods of time, when physical distancing is not possible in public settings such as when grocery shopping or using public transit.
Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA) – Notice to industry:
The CFIA will be posting a notice to industry on its website to advise that the Agency and the USDA have agreed to a six-month extension for approved facilities to continue to export certain animal products, by-products and pet foods. This will be effective immediately and will run until September 30, 2020.
This will ensure the CFIA can continue to provide critical inspections and help maintain bilateral trade flows of animal products between Canada and the U.S. during the COVID-19 pandemic situation.
Stay of Default under the Advance Payments Program (APP):
As you know, on March 23, 2020, the Government of Canada announced an extension to an existing Stay of Default and two new Stays of Default. We would like to clarify that, the Stays only apply to a restricted number of commodities who received advances in a specific program year. These commodities will be eligible for a Stay if their repayment deadline is within the dates identified.
- A six-month extension of the Stay of Default on 2018 grain, oilseed and pulse advances which would have expired on March 31, 2020 and has been extended to September 30, 2020.
- A six month Stay of Default on 2018 advances on cattle and bison producers which would have come due on March 31, 2020 and have been extended to September 30, 2020; and
- A six month Stay of Default on 2019 advances on flowers and potted plants, which would have come due on April 30, 2020 and has been extended to October 31, 2020.
A producer is allowed to have advances under multiple program years, including a Stay, but the sum of those advances need to be within the total program limit of $1million.
Producers can continue to receive up to $100,000 in interest-free advances for each program year. For most of the commodities, the 2020 program year started April 1, 2020. With respect to the Stays of Default and the repayment deadlines announced, under certain circumstances, it is possible that a producer has an outstanding interest free advance from a previous program year when requesting a 2020 APP advance. The producer will still be eligible for a 2020 advance of $100,000 interest-free, potentially giving him for a limited period, interest free advances greater than $100,000.
Updates from International Trading Partners:
- On April 16, 2020, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, held a call with her U.S. counterpart, Secretary Sonny Perdue to affirm agriculture and food production as critical infrastructures in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, and to underscore the importance of uninterrupted food and agriculture trade across the Canada-U.S. border.
- Slaughter capacity of beef, pork and poultry continues to be diminished in the U.S. due to COVID-19 outbreaks amongst plant employees. We continue to monitor this.
- Regarding reduced service hours at a number of U.S. border crossing points, please note that, in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the CBSA is temporarily reducing service hours at 27 low-traffic border entry locations along the Canada-U.S. land border. The temporary hour adjustments are in effect as of April 15th at 11:59 pm EDT and will remain in effect until further notice. Further information is available here.
- Due to the coronavirus pandemic and the newly implemented restrictive measures now in place in several countries across Latin America and the Caribbean, please note that the Migration Office of the Embassy of Canada in Mexico is offering essential services only. Such services include processing of work permit applications for those intending to work in critical industries, such as agriculture.
- IRCC has implemented special measures to help temporary and permanent residents and applicants affected by the coronavirus (COVID-19). A FAQ has been developed to answer questions from the public regarding the Implications of travel restrictions on IRCC clients.
Keeping Canadians and workers in the food supply chain safe:
On April 13, 2020, the Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, announced $50 million to help farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers, put in place the measures necessary to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad.
Additional Funding for the Canadian Food Inspection Agency (CFIA):
On April 14, 2020, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Marie-Claude Bibeau, Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food, have announced $20 million in funding for the CFIA to support critical food inspection services.
CFIA expectations on the prevention of and response to suspected and confirmed cases of COVID-19 by operators:
New expectations for operators have been posted on the CFIA website about preventing and responding to COVID-19 in establishments regulated by CFIA. This document is not intended for meat slaughter and processing establishments. Separate CFIA guidance about preventing and responding to COVID-19 in meat slaughter and processing establishments exists.