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Earlier today Premier Moe announced a detailed financial support plan for Saskatchewan Employers and Employees. This financial support will be crucial to our business community, allowing us more resources to weather these economically turbulent times. The support plan outlines mechanisms to reduce costs for businesses and individuals and will include the establishment a Business Response Team designated to support Saskatchewan businesses during this time of uncertainty.
The Chamber is particularly pleased to see the changes that have been announced to amend the Saskatchewan Employment Act. These changes will make it so that during a public emergency, employers will not have to provide notice or pay in lieu when they lay off staff it is for a period of 12-weeks or less in a 16-week period. This amendment will allow employees to have immediate access to the federal employment insurance program, while keeping employers financially stable to ensure employees have a job to return too.
PREMIER ANNOUNCES FINANCIAL SUPPORT PLAN FOR SASKATCHEWAN EMPLOYERS AND EMPLOYEES
Today, Premier Scott Moe announced a significant financial support plan for Saskatchewan employers and employees hit by the impacts of 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 said. “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.”
The financial support plan outlines a number of mechanisms for reducing costs for businesses and individuals, providing support to self-employed individuals not covered by new federal support measures, and establishes a Business Response Team designated to support Saskatchewan businesses during this time of uncertainty.
Self-Isolation Support Program
Administered by the Ministry of Finance, the Self-Isolation Support Program will provide $450 per week, for a maximum of two weeks or $900. 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 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:
Three Month PST Remittance Deferral and Audit Suspension
Effective immediately, Saskatchewan businesses who are unable to remit their PST due to cashflow concerns will have relief from penalty and interest charges. Over the course of these three-months; government estimates a potential deferral of up to $750 million in PST collections. Businesses that are unable to file their provincial tax return(s) by the due date may submit a request for relief from penalty and interest charges on the return(s) affected.
At this time, 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
Earlier this week, government announced a crown utility interest deferral program waving interest on late bill payments for up to six months. Effective immediately, the crown utility interest deferral program is available to all crown utility customers.
Student Loan Repayment Moratorium
Effective immediately, a six-month student loan repayment moratorium has been put in place, mirroring a similar federal provision. 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 changes to The Saskatchewan Employment Act that introduced a new 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:
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
To provide support to Saskatchewan businesses seeking to navigate the uncertain conditions caused by COVID-19, the Government of Saskatchewan will be establishing a single window information webpage for businesses to access information and receive timely updates on provincial support initiatives. This will be complemented by the establishment of a Business Response Team, led by the Ministry of Trade and Export Development, which will work with businesses to identify program supports relevant to particular businesses. Once the Business Response Team has been established, contact information will be communicated to the public, and to local chambers of commerce for dissemination to chamber membership.
For more information, contact:
Media Services – Executive Council
Government of Saskatchewan