A Non-Profit Organization in Canada’s Guide to COVID-19 Governmental Supports and Programs

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Last updated: June 16th, 2020

This article outlines the measures undertaken by the Federal and Provincial governments in response to the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the employment supports available to Canada’s charitable sector. It will be updated as new information on these measures emerge, and if any new supports for charities are provided by our governments.

Note: Although we’ve tried our best to provide complete and accurate information, this article does not constitute legal advice. We suggest that you consult with a professional in this area for the most reliable advice specific to your organization.


  1. Delaying Annual General Meetings
  2. Extension of T3010 filing deadline to December 31, 2020
  3. Deferral of GST/HST payments and corporate income tax payments
  4. Employer-focussed wage programs
  5. Program for employees unable to work and those unemployed
  6. Business programs
  7. Additional Federal Supports by Sector
  8. Province-specific relief programs

Delaying Annual General Meetings

Federally incorporated charities and nonprofits unable to hold virtual AGMS, or those that do not wish to, can submit an online form to Corporations Canada to delay their AGM beyond the normally required date.

For more information, please consult this link: http://corporationscanada.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/cd-dgc.nsf/frm-eng/JCRE-BNGKQY

T3010 Filing Deferral

The Charities Directorate is extending the T3010 Form filing deadline to December 31, 2020, for all charities with a Registered Charity Information Return due between March 18, 2020, and December 31, 2020. This date is regardless of your charity’s normal filing deadline.

Note: Individual taxpayers are allowed to postpone any tax payments until after August 31st.

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/services/taxes/charities.html

GST/HST Remittances Deferral

Available to all charities that charge GST/HST for programs, services or products, the Government of Canada will allow all charities that charge Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) to defer their payments until June 30, 2020.

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/covid19-businesses.html#deferral_sales_tax_remittance_customs_duty_payments

Business Income Tax Deferral

The Government of Canada is allowing the deferral, until August 31, 2020, of the payment of any income tax amounts between March 18th and September 1st, 2020. This is of particular interest to social enterprises operating within the charitable and non-profit sectors and applies to any eligible tax balances due, including instalments. It’s important to note that, during this period, no interest or penalties will accumulate on the amounts owed.

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan/covid19-businesses.html#more_time_to_pay_their_income_taxes

Work-Sharing Program Extension

Available to all businesses, and including charities, the Government of Canada is extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.

About the Work-Sharing Program:

This program is a three-party agreement involving employers, employees and Service Canada. It is designed to curb employee layoffs when normal business activity is temporarily interrupted through no direct control of the employer. This measure is intended to provide support to EI-eligible employees and their ability to earn income, as they work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers.

The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours and agree to share the available work over a specified period of time.

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing/eligibility.html

Temporary (10 percent) Wage Subsidy for Employers

On March 18, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a temporary 10 percent wage subsidy. This wage subsidy allows organizations, including charities, to obtain up to 10% of payroll costs incurred between March 18th, 2020 and June 19th, 2020. The maximum claim amount is $1,375 for each employee, and up to $25,000 per employer.

There is no application through the CRA – you may simply reduce your Income-tax remittance by 10% of the remuneration paid in that period.

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/frequently-asked-questions-wage-subsidy-small-businesses.html

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Government of Canada has introduced the new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) measure. Retroactive to March 15, 2020 and until August 29, 2020, it is intended to cover 75 percent of salaries for qualifying businesses, including charities of all sizes. The maximum amount subsidized is $847 per week per active or furloughed employee, with no cap on how much a single employer can receive. Approximately the first $58,700 earned by the employee is eligible for the wage subsidy.

As well, the Government is proposing that employers eligible for the CEWS be entitled to receive a 100-per-cent refund for certain employer-paid contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan.

Please note that there is no specific indication stating that your organization is obliged to top up to the employee’s full salary, but is encouraged.

Eligibility Criteria

The CEWS would be available to organizations who saw a 15% drop in revenue in March and a 30% drop in revenue in April and May.

When you apply for this subsidy, you will be required to justify and provide proof of the decline in revenue. Once an employer is found eligible for a specific period, the employer automatically qualifies for the next period.

On May 15, 2020, Finance Minister Morneau announced the approval of regulations to extend the eligibility for the CEWS to include groups such as Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations (“RCAAAs”), Registered Journalism Organizations (“RJOs”), private colleges, and private schools.  As well, the government will consult with key business and labour representatives soon on potential adjustments to the CEWS, including the 30 percent revenue decline threshold, and propose new legislation to clarify how the CEWS will be available with regard to seasonal employees, amalgamated corporations and trusts.

How to calculate the revenue loss:

  • To measure their revenue loss, it is proposed that all employers have the flexibility to compare their revenue of March, April and May 2020 to that of the same month of 2019, or to an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020 — whichever is more advantageous.

  • Charities and non-profit organizations can choose to either include or exclude revenue from the government when calculating their revenues — whichever is more advantageous.

  • Organizations can calculate their revenues using either accrual or cash accounting — whichever is more advantageous.

  • Organizations that qualify for the wage subsidy will be able to furlough staff to keep them on payroll, if there is a lack of work for them to do, and receive a full refund of employer contributions towards CPP, EI, QPP and other such programs.

CEWS vs. the Temporary (10 percent) Wage Subsidy for Employers

It can be confusing for some charities to differentiate between the CEWS and the 10 percent wage subsidy. If you are eligible for both subsidies with the same period of time, note that any benefit from the 10 percent wage subsidy on your employee’s salary will reduce the amount available to be claimed under the CEWS in that same period.

To Apply

Eligible employers are able to apply for the CEWS through the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Business Account portal as of Monday, April 27, 2020.

For more information, please consult these links:



Wage Subsidy For Canada Summer Jobs Program

The federal government announced temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program that will help employers hire summer staff and provide young Canadians access to the jobs they need during this unprecedented time. This program will help create up to 70,000 jobs for youth between 15 and 30 years of age. The changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program will help small businesses hire and keep the workers they need so they can continue to deliver essential services.

The temporary changes to the program for this year include:

  • an increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 percent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee
  • an extension to the end date for employment to February 28, 2021
  • allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services
  • allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis

For more information, please consult this link: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/04/08/changes-canada-summer-jobs-program-help-businesses-and-young

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit

To support employees impacted by COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will provide $2,000 per month for a period of up to six months. On June 16th, Mr. Trudeau announced that the CERB would be extended an additional 8 weeks, or two months beyond the initial 4 month period. Paid every four weeks, this measure is retroactive to March 15th, 2020, and will last until October 3rd, 2020. While this support is employee-facing, knowledge of the benefit is relevant to charities whose operations have been directly affected by the pandemic. Individuals are eligible for the CERB if:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • They have lost their job;
  • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job, or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;
  • Are still employed, but have lost income due to COVID-19 disruptions;
  • Are sick, quarantined, or caring for someone sick due to COVID-19, and missing work; or,
  • They are a working parent staying home to care for children due to closures/sickness;
  • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.

It is important to note the following:

  • An employer would not be eligible to claim the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) for salary paid to an employee in a week that falls within a 4-week period for which the employee is eligible for the CERB.
  • Employers who are not eligible for the CEWS would still be able to furlough employees who will receive up to $2,000 a month.
  • Applicants need to access Service Canada’s website to submit their online EI application.
  • Eligible individuals will receive their funds as soon as 3 days (for electronic deposit), and up to 10 days (by mail), after they apply.
  • Eligible applicants do not need a doctor’s note to apply for these benefits.
  • Includes individuals making up to $1,000 a month, seasonal workers, contractors, and people with Employment Insurance that has recently run out (since January 1st 2020).

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/economic-response-plan.html

Canada Emergency Business Account – Business Credit

The Government of Canada has introduced the new Canada Emergency Business Account in an effort to ensure that small businesses, including charities, have access to funds in these challenging times. This Business Account will be implemented by the major financial institutions across Canada and in cooperation with Export Development Canada.

All charities with 2019 payrolls between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total will be eligible for interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. 25% of the loan (up to $10,000) will be forgiven if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022. To be eligible, charities must generate a portion of its revenue from the sales of goods or services.

To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need a business operating account at a participating financial institution, a Canada Revenue Agency business number, to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million.

To apply, these loans are to be arranged through your regular financial institution.

For more information, please consult this link: https://ceba-cuec.ca/

SME Loan and Guarantee Program (Business Credit)

Primarily for eligible social enterprises, this Co-Lending Program is managed by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) but is arranged by the former’s financial institution.

You can obtain business credit amounts up to $6.25 million. BDC’s portion of this program is up to $5 million maximum per loan.

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/department-finance/news/2020/03/additional-support-for-canadian-businesses-from-the-economic-impact-of-covid-19.html#_New_Loan_Programs

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance

This program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
  • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible tenants’ rent by at least 75% for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent.
  • Impacted tenants are organizations paying less than $50,000 per month in rent (per location) and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues.
  • Charities and nonprofits can choose whether to include or exclude revenues from governments when calculating their revenue drop.
  • Tenants’ consolidated financial statements (in the case of multiple locations) must show annual revenues less than $20 million

Applications opened on May 25, 2020.

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.cmhc-schl.gc.ca/en/finance-and-investing/covid19-cecra-small-business

Federal business supports by sector

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced on April 21, 2020 that $350 million in emergency funds for community groups and national charities that help seniors, the homeless and others made more vulnerable by the pandemic. The funds will support some small independent organizations and national organizations such as the United Way and Red Cross.

Nonprofit organizations can apply through the Red Cross portal.

Registered charities and other qualified donees can apply through the Community Foundations of Canada national portal or through their local United Way Centraide Canada.

For more information, please consult this link: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/04/21/prime-minister-announces-further-support-help-canadians-need

Support for food banks and local food organizations

National, regional, and local food banks and local food organizations across Canada will receive $100 million in funding through the Government of Canada’s Local Food Infrastructure Fund, including:

  • $50 million to Food Banks Canada
  • $20 million divided evenly between Salvation Army, Second Harvest, Community Food Centres Canada, and Breakfast Club of Canada
  • $30 million for local-level organizations who serve people experiencing food insecurity

For more information, please consult this link: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/04/03/prime-minister-announces-support-food-banks-and-local-food

Support for local organizations supporting Canadian seniors

The Government of Canada will contribute $9 million through United Way Canada for local organizations to support practical services to Canadian seniors. The funding for seniors will be delivered through the New Horizons for Seniors Program.

For more information, please consult this link: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/03/29/prime-minister-announces-support-vulnerable-canadians-affected-covid

Support for Women’s shelters and sexual assault centres

The Government is supporting women and children fleeing violence by providing up to $50 million to women’s shelters and sexual assault centres, including facilities in Indigenous communities, to help with their capacity to manage or prevent an outbreak in their facilities.

The government is currently working with provincial and territorial counterparts and stakeholders to ensure organizations receive the funding as soon as possible.

For more information, please consult this link: https://cfc-swc.gc.ca/fun-fin/shelters-refuges-en.html

Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations

A total of up to $500 million has been set aside to help alleviate the financial pressures of affected organizations. Canadian Heritage has made funds available to partner organizations, including the Canada Council for the Arts, the Canada Media Fund, FACTOR, Musicaction, and Telefim Canada, to start distributing funds to organizations affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the cultural, heritage and sport sectors.

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.canada.ca/en/canadian-heritage/news/2020/05/emergency-support-fund-for-cultural-heritage-and-sport-organizations-next-steps-to-support-the-industry-impacted-by-the-global-covid-19-pandemic.html

Surplus Food Purchase Program

Launching a first-ever Surplus Food Purchase Program with an initial $50 million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories, which could include products such as potatoes and poultry, to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.

For more information, please consult this link: https://pm.gc.ca/en/news/news-releases/2020/05/05/supporting-canadas-farmers-food-businesses-and-food-supply

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

Charities and nonprofits in some parts of the country will be able to get money to cover operating costs through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. The regional development agencies (plus Community Futures) are administering the Fund, and each development agency is putting its own rules on the money. “Non-commercial” nonprofits can apply to Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions for non repayable money, while it looks like charities and non-profits cannot apply at all to FedDev Ontario, including for non repayable capital.

For more information, please consult this link: https://www.ic.gc.ca/eic/site/icgc.nsf/eng/h_07682.html

Province-specific relief programs

There are a number of additional tax relief measures instituted by Provincial governments to support their businesses. Below is a table outlining these measures, broken down by Measure, Eligibility level, and Province.

Note: This table was last updated on April 18th, 2020. Please consult your provincial Government websites for more accurate information.

Province and Eligibility

Charities and not-for-profits


The Alberta government is providing $30 million in immediate funding to charities, not-for-profits and civil society organizations to support their responses to the COVID-19 public health crisis.




Various Businesses (including charities)

Tax Deferral for Businesses

Deferral of income tax balances and installment payments due after March 18, 2020, until August 31, 2020.


British Columbia

Various Businesses (including charities)

Tax Relief for Businesses

The following taxes have been deferred, delayed or reduced:

– Deferred Tax Payments for Businesses

– Delayed PST Budget 2020 Tax Changes

– Delayed Increase of Carbon Tax

– Reduced School Tax for Businesses


British Columbia

Small businesses (including charities)

Utility Payments

Relief for Electricity bills for small businesses closed due to COVID-19.

  • Electricity use charges may be waived for up to three months, from April to June.
  • Businesses that are not eligible may be able to defer bill payments without penalty.
  • Fortis has instituted an assistance program.





Small and medium-sized businesses (including charities)

Tax Filing Deadlines Extended

June 22, 2020 extension of April and May tax filing deadlines for small and medium businesses with monthly RST remittances of no more than $10,000. Note that interest will continue to apply on all outstanding tax debts established prior to the March remittance deadlines.


New Brunswick

All eligible businesses, including charities

Deferral of payments for the WorksafeNB premium

Deferral of payments for February, March and April until June without interest charges.


New Brunswick

All property owners, including charities

Late penalties on property taxes waived

Waiving late penalties on property taxes. Business property taxes must be paid by May 31, and late penalties will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis based on impact on business due to COVID-19.


North West Territories

All organizations (including charities)

WSCC Due Date Extension

Extension of the due date for Workers’ Safety and Compensation Commission assessment payments from April 1, 2020 to May 1, 2020.


North West Territories

All organizations (including charities)

Payment terms of Government Invoices

Provides small businesses with access to greater cash flow during this crisis, by pausing most collections efforts and shortening payment terms on government invoices.


North West Territories

All organizations (including charities)

Interest Charges Waived

Waives interest charges on all late tax returns between March 15 and June 30. This includes fuel tax and payroll tax.


Nova Scotia

Includes assistance for food banks and transition houses

Deferred government loans

Deferral of all loan payments until June 30. This includes assistance for food banks and transition houses.


Nova Scotia

Small businesses (including charities)

Fee deferral for small businesses

Deferral of various fees for small businesses until June 30, including business registration renewal fees and workers’ compensation premiums.


Nova Scotia

Includes social enterprises

Small Business Grants

Grants of up to $5,000 through the Small Business Impact Grant. Eligible small businesses and social enterprises will receive a grant of 15 percent of their revenue from sales — either from April 2019 or February 2020, up to a maximum of $5,000. There are no limitations for how this one-time, upfront grant can be used.



Small businesses (including charities)

Electricity rate relief

Provides electricity rate relief for small businesses paying time-of-use rates. The government is working to suspend time-of-use electricity rates, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-perkilowatt-hour for a 45-day period. This reduced price will be available 24 hours per day, 7 days a week to customers.



Various Businesses (including charities)

Employer Health Tax exemption

Increases the Employer Health Tax exemption to $1 million from the previous $490,000. This is retroactive to January 1, 2020. Only the exemption amount is changing.



Various Businesses (including charities)

Tax interest and penalty relief & Rent Relief
Introduces provincial tax interest and penalty relief for businesses who are unable to file or remit select taxes on time. Beginning April 1, 2020, and for a period of 5 months, penalties and interest will not apply to Ontario businesses that miss any filing or remittance deadline under select provincial taxes. Tax filing and remittance deadlines will remain the same. Note that the relief period does not include accounts with outstanding taxes, interest or penalties owing to the government from previous filing periods.https://budget.ontario.ca/2020/marchupdate/relief-measures.htmlThe Ontario Government is committing $241 million to partner with the federal government and deliver more than $900 million in urgent relief to small businesses and their landlords through a new program, the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA).The OCECRA will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.https://news.ontario.ca/opo/en/2020/04/ontario-canada-emergency-commercial-rent-assistance-program.html

Various businesses (including charities)

Premium Deferral

Financial relief for employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance, which allows businesses to defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. This premium deferral impacts businesses who report and pay monthly, quarterly or annually based on their insurable earnings. No interest will accrue on outstanding premium payments and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period.


Prince Edward Island

Includes non-profit organizations

Emergency Relief Worker Assistance Program

The Emergency Relief Worker Assistance Program will provide financial support to employers to assist their employed workers who have been impacted by reduced hours at work as a result of COVID-19. Employers can receive a maximum of $250 per week for each employed worker that experienced a reduction of at least 8 hours per week during the two-week period of March 16-29. Applications can be submitted until April 15. Note: Workers laid off during this period are not eligible for support under this program.



All registered charities

Extended deadline for TP-9985.22

The deadline for filing the Registered Charities and Other donees Information Return (TP-985.22) is extended to December 31, 2020, for registered charities that were required to file this return no later than the period beginning on March 17, 2020, and ending on December 30, 2020.



All employers, including charities, covered by CNESST

Deadline Extension for CNESST

Employers have until August 31, 2020, to make the payment of their Statement of Account linked to the CNESST contribution. Deadline extension for filing the 2019 Wage Statement to June 1, 2020. No penalty or interest will be applicable during this time period.

https://www.cnesst.gouv.qc.ca/salle-de-presse/communiques/Pages/20-mars-2020-quebec.aspx (available in French only)

Quebec (Montreal)
All property owners, including charities
Deferral of the second municipal tax installment for property owners

Deferral of the second municipal tax installment in Montreal until July 2.



Various Businesses (including charities)

PST remittance relief

PST remittance relief for a period of up to three months for businesses that are unable to remit their PST. In addition, audit programs and compliance activities have been temporarily suspended.



Various Businesses (including charities)

Bill deferral

All Crown utilities will implement bill-deferral programs allowing a zero-interest bill deferral for up to six months for Saskatchewan customers whose ability to make bill payments may be impacted by the COVID-19 restrictions.



Specific to not-for-profit organizations in the arts & culture sectors

Supports for Arts & Culture Sectors

Providing a variety of interim supports for the arts and culture sectors; awards of up to $2,500 will be available for individuals and $5,000 for businesses, not-for-profit organizations or collectives for arts-related initiatives.



Various Businesses (including charities)

WCHSB relief

Workers’ Compensation Health and Safety Board relief measures will allow employers to revise their annual payroll estimates, and to temporarily defer their assessment premiums without penalty or interest charges.



NGOs are eligible

Temporary Support for Events Funding Programs

A Temporary Support for Events Funding Program will help businesses recover certain costs from the cancellation of major events due to COVID-19. These costs relate specifically to perishable goods and the cancellation of accommodation and services.



Additional sources consulted for this guide:

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One Response to “A Non-Profit Organization in Canada’s Guide to COVID-19 Governmental Supports and Programs”

  1. Melanie Connell

    Great info. I hope this will be updated again soon!

     •  Reply