The Saskatchewan government has announced their financial support plan for employees and businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“During this time of great uncertainty, it is of the utmost importance that Saskatchewan people know their government is here to provide support,” Moe says. “This plan supports businesses and employees. Most importantly, it supports the opportunity to come back to work when we emerge from the COVID-19 crisis.”
Self-Isolation Support Program
The Self-Isolation Support Program is targeted at Saskatchewan residents forced to self-isolate that are not covered by recent federally announced employment insurance programs and other supports. The program will provide $450 per week, for a maximum of two weeks or $900. The program is designed to ensure that all Saskatchewan residents are covered by either a federal or provincial program to ensure no one is faced with choosing to work instead of protecting their family and community from COVID-19 by self-isolating.
The program is anticipated to cost a total of $10 million and will mostly benefit self-employed residents of Saskatchewan that meet the following eligibility criteria:
- They have contracted COVID-19 or are showing symptoms
- They have been in contact with an individual infected with COVID-19
- They have recently returned from international travel and have been required to self-isolate
- If they are not eligible for compensation including sick leave, vacation leave from their employer
- If they do not have private insurance covering such disruptions
- If they are not covered by other programs such as federal employment insurance that has been updated.
Three Month PST Remittance Deferral and Audit Suspension
Effective immediately, Saskatchewan businesses who are unable to remit their PST due to cashflow concerns will not have to pay penalty and interest charges. Over the course of three-months; the government estimates a potential deferral of up to $750 million in PST collections. Businesses that are unable to file their provincial tax returns by the due date may submit a request for relief from penalty and interest charges on the returns affected.
Audit program and compliance activities have been suspended to allow businesses time to focus on the health and safety of their customers and staff, reduce impacts to their business operations, and minimize the spread of the virus through reduced audit travel.
Crown Utility Interest Deferral Programs
Effective immediately, the crown utility interest deferral program is available to all crown utility customers. Interest will be waived on late bill payments for up to six months.
Student Loan Repayment Moratorium
Effective immediately, a six-month student loan repayment moratorium has been put in place. This provides individuals with student loans immediate relief and comes at a $4 million cost to the provincial government.
Changes to Employment Standard Regulations
In addition to changes made to The Saskatchewan Employment Act which introduced an unpaid public health emergency leave and removed the 13-week employment requirement to access sick leave and the requirement for a doctor’s note to access sick leave.
The Employment Standard Regulations have been amended to:
- Ensure that during a public emergency, businesses will not have to provide notice or pay in lieu of notice when they lay-off staff if it is for a period of 12 weeks or less in a 16-week period
- If an employer lays off employees periodically for a total of more than 12 weeks in a 16-week period, the employees are considered to be terminated and are entitled to pay instead of notice as outlined in the Act. This will be calculated from the date on which the employee was laid off
These amendments create a balance for employers and employees where the difficult decision may be made to lay-off employees due to public health emergencies. In this circumstance, employees would have immediate access to new federal employment insurance programs, while keeping employers financially stable to ensure employees have a job to return to.
Business Response Team to be Established
A single window information webpage will be established for businesses to access information and receive updates on provincial support initiatives. A Business Response Team led by the Ministry of Trade and Export Development will be made and will work with businesses to find program supports relevant to particular businesses. Once the team is in place, contact information will be sent out to the public and local chambers of commerce.