COVID-19 Industry Update

Provincial Update

Regulation made under the Planning Act | Special Rules Relating to Declared Emergency

On Wednesday April 15, the government passed a Regulation under the Planning Act for the “Special Rules Relating to Declared Emergency”. The purpose of this Regulation is to ensure the Emergency Order does not apply to Planning Acttimelines and to prevent non-decisions from occurring. The legislation allows municipalities to continue to make land use decisions and for those decisions on planning matters to come into effect if not appealed. OHBA anticipates further guidance materials on the new regulation from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing later this week, which we will share with the membership.

Highlights of this Regulation include:

  • Despite the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, Ontario Regulation 73/20 (Order under subsection 7.1 (2) of the Act – Limitation Periods) made under that Act does not apply and is deemed to have never applied with respect to the Planning Act;
  • The following rules apply if a notice is required to be given under a provision set out in subsection (3) in respect of a decision that was made on or after March 2, 2020 and before April 15, 2020:
  • If the notice was given to one or more persons or public bodies but the giving of the notice was not completed before April 15, 2020, the notice is deemed not to have been given and the notice shall be given again in accordance with the provision, except that the notice shall be given no later than 15 days after the COVID-19 emergency is terminated or disallowed.
  • If the notice was not given before April 15, 2020, the notice shall be given in accordance with the provision, except that the notice shall be given no later than 15 days after the COVID-19 emergency is terminated or disallowed.
  • The Regulation specifies notice provisions impacted by the Emergency Order for Committees of Adjustment;
  • For the period of the COVID19 emergency, the regulation ensures that counting the periods of time shall not be included for:
  • Official Plan Approvals
  • Official Plan Requests for Amendment
  • Community Improvement Demolition Control Area
  • Zoning By-Laws
  • Holding Provision By-Laws
  • Interim Control By-Laws (in effect on March 17, 2020)
  • Site Plan Control Area
  • Conveyance of Land for Park Purposes
  • Powers of Committee
  • Plan of Subdivision Approvals
  • Consents
  • Tariff of Fees
  • The Regulation sets out rules for the previous list if a period of time ended on or after March 17, 2020 and before April 15, 2020;
  • The Regulation sets out rules for counting of periods of time for Interim Control By Laws in effect through the Emergency Period.

Read the Provincial News Release here now for more information.

This announcement follows the introduction of Bill 189 on Tuesday, when the Legislative Assembly of Ontario convened in a special session to pass “the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support and Protection Act, 2020”. The Bill made amendments to three pieces of Legislation – the Development Charges Act, Planning Act and Education Act, that impact the industry. The legislation responds to a number of issues that OHBA has raised with the Provincial Government through various communications to address a number of member concerns with respect to expiring municipal and education development charges by-laws, and in keeping specific municipal planning functions open for (remote) business.

OHBA continues to advocate that the municipal planning and approvals system can continue during the state of emergency, and with these additional tools, municipalities should be accepting, processing and approving new applications. OHBA will continue to communicate with the government on potential additional measures that they believe could be safely undertaken to maintain some business practices and some additional municipal functions (remotely).

The Provincial Background on Bill 189 can be found here, and the Coronavirus (COVID-19) Support & Protection Act, 2020 can be read in full by clicking here.

Federal Update

Prime Minister Announces Additional Support for Small Businesses

Canada Emergency Business Account

As of Thursday, the Canada Emergency Business Account will now be open to businesses that spent between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs. 

Introduced on April 9th, small business owners are able to apply for support from the Canada Emergency Business Account through their banks and credit unions. Businesses are able to access CEBA through their primary lender, where they have a pre-existing relationship. Businesses that are impacted can contact them by phone or email to find out about their application process. Eligible small business and non-profit organizations can get interest-free loans of up to $40,000. If the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022, 25% of it will be forgiven, up to $10,000.

These loans are fully funded by the Government of Canada, as part of the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), which is providing a total of $65 billion through banks and credit unions in the form of loans to small and medium-sized businesses. Since the launch of the CEBA on April 9th, more than 195,000 loans have been approved by financial institutions, extending more than $7.5 billion in credit to small businesses.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program

The Prime Minister also introduced the new Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including 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.

Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. The federal government are working with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic and will have more details to share soon.

Main takeaways of the introduction of this new program include:

  • Will provide support for small businesses to meet rent dues.
  • Will work with provinces to bring details forward soon.
  • Would be loans, some of which would be forgivable to commercial property owners so they can offer small business rent relief.

CHBA Comment

The CHBA has remarked that the changes to the CEBA is welcome news that partially responds to CHBA’s advocacy over the past two weeks calling for changes to ensure more small businesses are able to access this important credit tool. The expansion of the program will allow more businesses to qualify for the loan, and up to $10,000 in loan forgiveness if repaid by Dec. 2020; but, that it doesn’t address the issue of dividends, which CHBA is aware prevents many sole proprietors and self-employed in the residential construction sector from accessing the program. CHBA continues to engage the Minister of Finance’s office on this issue and will monitor for more information on the new Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program. 

Read more on these announcements here.

OHBA Update

The OHBA has also provided a “COVID-19 Update” for its members. Check out their latest newsletter now regarding COVID-19 and important health and safety updates.