Every Friday, we publish a weekly update on COVID-19 and its effect on business. 

App to Notify of Canadians of Potential COVID-19 Exposure Launches

While its launch was delayed a few weeks ago, “COVID Alert” – a new app created in collaboration with the federal government – has officially launched as a measure to notify Canadians if they may have been exposed to COVID-19. The use of the app remains voluntary and was designed with the intention to limit the spread of COVID-19 as the economy continues to reopen.

Per the Government of Canada’s website:

To safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of all Canadians, the app uses strong measures to protect any data it collects, and does not track a user’s location or collect personally identifiable information. The Privacy Commissioners of Canada and Ontario were consulted on the development of COVID Alert, to ensure the highest level of privacy for Canadians using the app.

The Government of Canada has been working in close partnership with the Province of Ontario to launch the COVID Alert app. Health authorities in Ontario will be the first to begin distributing one-time keys. The Government of Canada is also working with the other provinces and territories to bring their jurisdictions on board in the coming weeks and months.

An expert Advisory Council will ensure the app meets the highest standards in public health outcomes, privacy, and technology. The members of the Council reflect Canada’s regional and cultural diversity, and cover a wide range of expertise, including health, privacy, data governance, science, and innovation. Their advice will inform the implementation and rollout phases of the app.

The new COVID Alert app is just one example of how the Government of Canada is working with the provinces, territories, and other partners to protect the health of all Canadians, and support efforts to restart the economy gradually and safely.

For more information about COVID Alert, click here.

The Canada Revenue Agency Extends Payment Deadline and Offers Interest Relief During COVID19

In addition to changes to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) services, due dates and programs affected by the COVID-19, the CRA announced that it is extending the payment deadline for all current year income tax returns from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020.

Specific details from the Government of Canada website include:

  • Interest on Existing Tax Debt: The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns. While this measure for existing tax debts does not cancel penalties and interest already assessed on a taxpayer’s account prior to this period, it ensures that a taxpayer’s existing tax debt does not continue to grow through interest charges during this difficult time. This measure provides immediate relief to impacted taxpayers.
  • Filing returns: The previously extended filing due dates for individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns remain unchanged. However, recognizing the difficult circumstances faced by Canadians, the CRA will not impose late-filing penalties where a current year individual, corporation, or trust return is filed late provided that it is filed by September 30, 2020.

The CRA encourages everyone to file their individual, corporate and trust returns as soon as possible, even though payment deadlines are being extended. This is particularly important for individuals receiving credits and benefits, such as the Canada Child Benefit.

The Federal Government Extends its Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) Program

Although CECRA was initially launched to only encompass April, May and June, the federal government has announced its extension through August 2020.

Ottawa has estimated that rent relief will cost nearly $3 billion through 2021. For further insights surrounding CECRA, read CBC’s latest article here.

Remember…

While the coronavirus continues to spread quickly, it is important to remember that only a small percentage of patients need special treatment to recover. Trusted health experts continue to emphasize that the general population shouldn’t panic and should instead focus on practicing proper hygiene, such as hand-washing and refraining from touching the facial area.

Stay up to date on the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) by visiting the World Health Organization and the Government of Canada website.

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