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COVID-19: Resources for Creative Firms

Like all of you, I have been overwhelmed by the COVID-19 pandemic both personally and professionally. With an onslaught of new information every day, at times it can seem difficult to keep up. 

Our governments have been working hard through their response to balance the health and well-being of individuals and communities with the health and well-being of businesses and the economy. Not an easy task.

In this post, I have compiled a list of  a few resources available for small businesses including a list of government programs focused on financial support for businesses and their employees, tools and webinars from industry experts, and a call to action for creative firms looking to be a part of the solution. 

Government Response: Support to Businesses

The Government of Canada has released a series of new programs as well as broadened eligibility for a number of existing programs in order to provide businesses and employees with needed relief during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Below is a highlight of the programs that will have the greatest impact for small businesses and their staff.

  • Providing small business with wage subsidies

The government announced an up to 75 per cent wage subsidy for qualifying businesses. This subsidy will be available for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020. Currently, this wage subsidy is open to all businesses that have seen revenue loss of at least a 30% regardless of size or structure. Under this program, the government will cover up to 75 per cent of a salary on the first $58,700, which could mean payments of up to $847 a week.

This program will help to ease the financial burden during these challenging times and help businesses keep and return workers to the payroll. Full program details are forthcoming. 

  • More time to pay income taxes

In order to help with working capital needs, the Government of Canada is allowing businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020.  This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. 

  • More time to pay sales taxes

Also to help with working capital needs, the federal government is deferring GST/HST remittances until June 30, 2020.  Do you qualify? Monthly filers can delay payments for February, March and April until June 30th. Quarterly filers can delay the amounts collected from January to March until June 30th.  Annual filers who are required to make installments in March, April or May can defer their installments to June 30, 2020.

  • Interest free loans

The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses to help cover operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced.  We expect more details to be published the week of March 30 on who qualifies and how to apply.

  • One-time increase in the EHT Exemption

In 2020, the total Ontario remuneration exemption has been increased to $1,000,0000 from $490,000.  This represents an almost $10,000 savings per year for businesses who have payroll between $490,000 and $1,000,000.

  • More time to pay WSIB premiums

WSIB premium payments will be deferred for the period starting March 25, 2020 and ending on August 31, 2020.  No interest and penalties will apply to these deferred payments. 

  • The new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

Recognizing the devastating impact that COVID-19 has had the workforce, the government announced a new benefit program to support workers who are unable to work as a result of becoming infected with COVID-19, caring for someone who is sick with COVID-19 or must stop working as a result of COVID-19 and is not eligible for any other paid leave or income support program. This new benefit will be accessible as of April and individuals are encouraged to apply online. If qualified, they will be provided a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months.

For a complete list of government programs available to support businesses and individuals click here.

Education/Learning Tools & Support for Businesses

Another great resource for agency leadership is the Institute of Canadian Advertisers (ICA). The ICA has excellent tools and information for businesses impacted by COVID-19. They have created a hub to centralize the most relevant HR, health and economic information for the industry. Their site shares tips and advice for remote working including the latest software and technology tools to enable your remote employees. 

They regularly post informative articles including, a  Guiding Principles for the Agency Sector during the COVID-10 Pandemic. They also have lots of  non-COVID-19 related resources accessible to members and non-members  with webinars focused on skill building etc. A calendar of events can be found here.

Help Wanted

Kudos to our friends at Studio Sophomore for starting this list of production crew members who are available for side “hustles” until business gets back to usual

The Talent Help List has also been created to help out of work talent in the tech sector find remote employment which hopefully extends beyond the Covid-19 crisis.

A Global Call to Creatives

We all have a role to play in preventing the spread of COVID-19. While practicing physical distancing and limiting trips outside our homes is a great start, if you own a creative firm, there may be an opportunity to have an even greater impact. 

The United Nations is enlisting the help of creatives around the world in its ‘Global Call to Creatives: An Open Brief from the United Nations’. In the brief, they have stated that they need help “translating critical public health messages into different languages, different cultures, communities and platforms, reaching everyone, everywhere”.

The campaign focuses on six key messages- personal hygiene, social distancing, know the symptoms, myth-busting and do more, donate. They are looking for creatives to do what they do best and ensure that these messages are presented in a way that resonates with the public.

They are looking for those who specialize in video, graphics, audio, activations and solidarity ideas and those who have knowledge of the platforms and languages they will use to spread the information. 

This is a tangible way that creatives businesses can be a part of the solution.Those who want to join the effort are asked to fill out a form on Google Forms, or contact

Like you, I am navigating this situation one day at a time. It is not easy and there is no clear path to follow. However, I am committed to helping ease the burden that businesses are facing in any way that I can. I will continue to share relevant information for small businesses through my blogs and I am more than happy to answer any questions that you may have via email or by phone.

Financial management of your small business has never been more important. Count on your finance team to help.