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Canadian Banks Join Forces To Support Canadian Women Entrepreneurs During COVID-19

Last update: April 20, 2020

On April 9th, 2020 WBE Canada had the pleasure of hosting a ground breaking webinar with senior women leaders from all of its member financial institutions to discuss business financing during COVID-19. Moderated by Ashlee Froese, Lawyer at Froese Law, a Canadian Certified Women Business Enterprise (WBE) Company, this event provided an overview of all programs and supports available to businesses at different stages and needs. 

Our presenters were 

  • Ashlee Froese, Lawyer, Froese Law
  • Kellie Sauriol, Regional Vice President, Business Financial Services, Atlantic Canada, RBC
  • Chantal Pitre, National Manager, Women Entrepreneurs, TD Bank Group
  • Hedy Afsharian, Director, Business Banking, CIBC
  • Moriah Linton, Director, Business Banking & Wealth Integration, BMO
  • Laura Didyk, Vice President and National Lead, Women Entrepreneurs, BDC
Moriah Linton

Hats off to WBE Canada for bringing these 5 banks together on one call. That has never happened before!” said Moriah Linton, BMO

WBE Canada is committed to breaking the barriers and overcoming the impossible to ensure that the information, resources and opportunities are delivered into the hands of Canadian business women in a timely manner. Here is a summary of all the programs, information and resources for your reference.  


Overview of Government Programs

  • Take advantage of the government programs, read about them. They are there to help you.
  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy – The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is 75% wage subsidy if you can demonstrate that your business’ revenue has decreased by 15% in March and 30% each month thereafter. It is necessary to discuss with your accountant to make sure you have all the details. There is not a maximum amount per employer.  But there is a cap for each employee. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is also available to nonprofit organizations. 
  • CPP/EI – Reduce payroll remittance. Small business deductions. Must have employees in Canada.
  • Work-Sharing – This program precedes COVID-19. Reduced schedule of work for workforce. Employer and employee must apply together. Must be in business for at least 2 years. 76 weeks of income support. Nonprofits are also eligible. 
  • Tax Deferrals (CRA) – Personal tax submissions are due June 1st, payments August 31st. Corporate taxes must be paid by August 31.  HST and custom duties must be paid by June 30th.
  • Though the tax submissions have been delayed, it is still advisable to not delay  and submit it as soon as you can.
Ashlee Froese

Knowing what is going to be in your spreadsheet 3-6 months from now is going to be an essential cog in the wheel for you to survive during these challenges,” said Ashlee Froese, Froese Law 


Bank Liquidity Solutions

  • Designed to create more cash flow flexibility. Cash is the key. Some of the options include mortgage deferrals (business and residential), credit card interest rate cut or payment deferrals, installment or auto loans solutions, refinancing, increase of line of credit, and many others. Reach out to your banker. They will listen, guide you to the best solutions for you. 
  • Banks play an important role, they are there to “operationalize the implementation of the government programs”. They are creating a one on one customized approach for every client because we realize that the needs of every client are different and every case is different. 
Kellie Sauriol

We are operating within parameters never faced before which is difficult for everyone but even more difficult for women entrepreneurs because their challenges are slightly more and not just restricted to these. But it is crucial for women to just stay strong and be patient because the role that women entrepreneurs play in boosting the economy is even greater right now.” said Kellie Sauriol, RBC


Canada Emergency Business Account  

Updated on April 20, 2020

  • This is a federal government program, a $40,000 interest free loan for businesses with payroll. This loan is interest free until December 31, 2022. If the loan is paid by this date, 25% ($10,000) of the loan is eligible for complete forgiveness. If the loan is not repaid by December 31, 2022, it will be extended for an additional 3-year term bearing an interest rate of 5% per annum. 
  • Eligible businesses are those with annual payrolls between $20,000 (down from original $50,000) and $1.5 million (from $1-million) in 2019, and apply to the primary bank that currently holds their operating account. You also need to be in good standing on all current loans you have with all banks. Banks can’t grant any exceptions from these rules. 
  • Please note that businesses will only be able to apply online directly. Banks are only administrators of that money, they do not decide the criteria: pass or fail. Their Relationship Managers, Account Managers, Branch Staff and Small Business Advice Centre will be unable to support applications. If declined, the government will have a website up and running this week where you can submit a request to reevaluate the demand.
  • It is crucial right now to stay updated with all the current information. Look out for any recent updates.
Chantal Pitre

What we are doing now is a great proof of collaboration between financial and government institutions,” said Chantal Pitre, TD Bank Group


Credit Card Payments 

  • Deferrals of up to 3 months for credit cards. Minimal payments will begin in month 4. 
  • Reduced interest rates on all purchases and cash advances
  • Same for business and personal credit cards

Contacting Your Bank To Access Financial Support

  • Before calling/emailing: list important elements that have changed in your business since COVID-19 and describe the direct impact on your business. Prepare a plan of action to mitigate and move forward and formulate your ask. 
  • Ask your bank any questions you might have. 
  • Best option is to talk to a dedicated account manager. If you don’t have one – use online banking option. There is also an online form for those who don’t have online banking. You can always reach out to banks for any queries.
Hedy Afsharian

“If you are calling in, do not waste your time waiting on the line for support on any deferral program – ask for a callback. It normally takes about 2-3 days. Or call the number on the back of your credit card.” recommended Hedy Afsharian, CIBC


BDC/EDC Solutions

  • For existing BDC clients – payment deferrals are available for up to 6 months. Talk to your BDC account manager. 
  • BDC Co-Lending Program for SMEs – BDC partners with banks to co-lend term loans for their payroll and operations cash flow requirements (risk shared at 80% for BDC and 20% for the bank) up to $6.25 million. Apply with your existing bank. 
  • EDC Loan Guarantee Program for SMEs (exporting & domestic). EDC guarantees a new one-year term loan or operating line of credit for 80% of its value up to $6.25 million. Apply through your existing bank, backed by EDC. More details available on EDC’s website. 
  • BDC Working Capital Loans – Working capital loan up to $2 mil. with flexible repayment terms such as principal postponements. Existing BDC clients should contact their account manager, non BDC clients should first speak to their financial institution to discuss the best option for them. 
  • To learn more about BDC loans and solutions click here
Laura Didyk

I encourage everyone to access the free tools on the BDC website such as the business continuity template and the financial template. These are great resources to help you during these times,” said Laura Didyk, BDC.


Other Resources

COVID-19 information & resources

Tools & training

Silvia Pencak

“On behalf of WBE Canada Team and our WBE Community I want to thank our friends and supporters at BDC, BMO, CIBC, RBC and TD Bank Group for making this webinar a priority in their busy schedule. Thank you for supporting Canadian women owned businesses!” Silvia Pencak, President, WBE Canada. 


About WBE Canada

WBE Canada is a Canadian non-profit organization that is opening doors for women-owned businesses to supply chains across North America. It certifies Canadian firms that are at least 51% owned, managed and controlled by women and introduces them to opportunities with corporations. To learn more about how we support women-owned businesses, click here. If you are a mid-size or large company looking to support women-owned businesses through procurement opportunities, we want to hear from you. Click here to learn more how you can get involved.

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