COVID-19 Relief for Canadian Businesses & Music Creators

The Government of Canada, along with lower levels of government and various organizations and associations, have introduced programs and initiatives to help Canadian businesses. Many will offer significant benefits to the professional lighting, video, and live production industry, as well as customers and end-users in the music and cultural sector.

The Federal Government has introduced various employer supports in response to the virus. They include the following:

1. COVID-19 Wage Subsidy
Businesses experiencing a reduction of revenue of at least 15% in March, and 30% in April and May, are eligible for a temporary wage subsidy of 75% of employee wages (up to $58,000 per employee). The program is currently in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. Obviously, the subsidy is intended as an incentive to keep employees working. Details are pending. However, to qualify the employer must be a "Canadian controlled private Corporation" (CCPC) eligible for the small business deduction under the Income Tax Act.

2. Canada Emergency Business Account
This will only apply if your payroll is under $1 million. In that case, you may be eligible for an interest free loan (line of credit) up to $40,000 (with a quarter of that (up to $10,000) eligible for complete forgiveness).

3. Small and Medium Sized Enterprises Loan and Guarantee Program
Loans through financial institutions sought in response to virus related business impacts will be guaranteed by the Business Development Bank of Canada (up to $40 billion in lending).

4. Tax Payment Deferral
All businesses will be permitted to defer, until August 31st, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing between March 18th and September 1st, 2020. That applies to tax balances due as well as tax installment. No interest will accumulate on those amounts during the deferral period.

For more information on the Government of Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, visit:

There are also resources and support available for entrepreneurs from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC):

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB) has launched a COVID-19 Small Business Help Centre to guide businesses through these challenges, and has increased its staff to respond to inquiries:

Significant Support for Musicians & Creators
Various levels of government, associations, and private businesses are also offering support to Canada's cultural industries amidst these hardships, including the music community, which will ultimately benefit businesses serving the live performance, recording, TV/film, and broadcast industries.

The application portal for the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB) is now open. CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks to Canadians who have lost their jobs or source of income because of COVID-19. It provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks.

SOCAN has launched a $2 Million Enhanced Emergency Program for its members, offering interest-free advances on royalties to artists whose live performance or film/TV composition revenues have been compromised:

The Unison Benevolent Fund has initiated a $500,000 Relief Fund for the Canadian music industry:

The National Arts Centre has teamed up with Facebook Canada to offer $100,000 to artists for their online performances:

FACTOR has pledged to deliver previously-approved grants to artists for events cancelled due to COVID-19:

The Government of Ontario and a group of stakeholders have introduced MusicTogether, a $300,000 initiative to directly support the province's musicians:

Spotify will donate up to $10 million to support musicians, working in tandem with the Unison Benevolent Fund for dissemination in Canada:

Author image
Andrew King is the Editor-in-Chief at Professional Lighting & Production. He is also a co-host of Canadian Musician Radio and NWC Webinars’ series of free music and entertainment industry webina
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