COVID-19 Financial Resources for Businesses and Individuals in Manitoba

This blog was originally published on April 7, 2020.

We have compiled the following summary of the resources and financial assistance that are presently available to Manitoba businesses and individuals, which you may wish to consider as you prepare to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on your organization.

This list is intended to supplement the list of federal programs, which can be found here.

Response by Manitoba Provincial Government

On March 19, 2020, the Manitoba government presented Budget 2020 to the legislature, as well as a supplemental budget to address the COVID-19 pandemic. The full release can be found here.

On April 3, 2020, the Manitoba government outlined its $100 million financial support plan for Manitoba residents.  The specific supports being provided are outlined below, and the full release can be found here.

List of resources available to businesses in Manitoba:

  • Tax Deferral: The province will extend the April, May and June filing deadlines for small and medium-sized businesses with monthly remittances of no more than $10,000. Businesses will have up to two additional months to remit retail sales taxes and the Health and Post Secondary Education Tax Levy, commonly called the payroll tax. The minister noted the department will work with businesses regarding flexible repayment options above the $10,000 cap. See the full release.
  • Employment Standards Layoff Rules: The province has added a temporary exception to employment standards regulations to give employers more time to recall employees laid off as a result of COVID-19. Under current employment standards legislation, employees who have been laid off for eight or more weeks in a 16-week period are deemed to have been terminated and are entitled to wages in lieu of notice. The province is making temporary amendments that would ensure any period of layoff occurring after March 1, 2020, will not be counted toward the period after which a temporary layoff would become a permanent termination. See the full release.
  • Provincial Income Tax and Corporate Income Tax filing Deadlines: The government is deferring provincial income tax and corporate income tax filing deadlines and payments to coincide with the current revised federal deferral of income tax to August 31. The province has indicated it is willing to extend these deferrals until October 1, 2020 should the federal government agree.
  • Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Interest: Interest on receivables from restaurants, bars and specialty wine store will not be charged by Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries until Oct. 1, 2020.

The following resources are available to individuals in Manitoba:

  • Child Care for Essential Workers: the government announced a $27.6 million dollar plan to support childcare for essential workers. The full release can be found here. Essential, front-line workers who need child-care options should call 204-945-0776 or (toll-free) 1-888-213-4754, or e-mail cdcinfo@gov.mb.ca. All questions about the new funding programs available to child-care centres and early childhood educators should be sent to ecegrant@gov.mb.ca.
  • Internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy Program: the government has invested $4.5 million in the mental health of Manitobans by introducing a program to help address anxiety caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. To help Manitobans experiencing anxiety, the province has partnered with Morneau Shepell, Canada’s leading provider of technology-enabled HR services, to launch an internet-based Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (iCBT) program free of charge to all Manitobans 16 years old and over. The province will spend $4.5 million to provide these services to Manitobans for up to a year. See the full release.
  • Rent increase freeze and eviction hearing postponement: The province has suspended any rent increases scheduled to take effect in June. The Residential Tenancies Branch (RTB) and Residential Tenancies Commission (RTC) have postponed all hearings for non-urgent matters to halt evictions. See the full release.
    • The RTB also recognizes landlords are experiencing financial challenges as some tenants are unable to pay full rent. After June 30, the branch plans to schedule hearings to adjudicate landlord applications for orders of possession on a priority basis. Hearings will be scheduled based on the order in which the applications are received. Landlords and tenants are encouraged to contact the RTB for information by telephone at 204-945-2476 or (toll-free) at 1-800-782-8403 and by email at rtb@gov.mb.ca.
  • Utility interest and penalty freeze: For the next six months until Oct. 1, 2020, Manitoba Hydro, Centra Gas and Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) will not to charge interest or penalties in the event that Manitobans are unable to pay at this time. Additionally, Manitoba Hydro and Centra Gas will not disconnect services during this time.
  • Provincial Student Loan Repayments Suspended: The province is suspending repayment of Manitoba Student Aid loans for six months to reduce the financial burden on post-secondary students during the COVID-19 pandemic. Effective April 1, the Department of Economic Development and Training has suspended all repayments of loans under the Manitoba Student Aid Program through September 30. See the full release.
  • Extended Supports and Services to Youth Aging out of the Child Welfare System: The Manitoba government will continue to extend supports to all youth currently in care who turn 18 between March 20 and September 30. This includes extending foster care placements and ensuring that youth who choose to move out of foster care continue to receive financial support. See the full release.
  • A comprehensive list of the resources available to individuals in Manitoba can be found at https://mb.211.ca/ under the Financial section.

We foresee many difficult and challenging circumstances arising from the spread of COVID-19 on our clients, and we are here to help you navigate these circumstances.  In the above article, we have attempted to outline some of the more recent developments which have been implemented to assist businesses and individuals, but this list is not exhaustive, and there may be further options available to you.  If you have questions relating to your organization’s specific circumstances, please reach out to MLT Aikins for assistance.

Note: This article is of a general nature only and is not exhaustive of all possible legal rights or remedies. In addition, laws may change over time and should be interpreted only in the context of particular circumstances such that these materials are not intended to be relied upon or taken as legal advice or opinion. Readers should consult a legal professional for specific advice in any particular situation.