COVID-19 - Callum Snape

COVID-19 Resource for Canadian Freelance Photographers

With COVID-19 wrecking havoc across the world, many freelance photographers (like me) have had their projects cancelled or postponed, leaving us without work. Typically freelancers don't qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) but the given the current pandemic the government of Canada has included both self-employed workers and contract workers in their aid package to help us. Given that some of our clients have 30, 60 or even 90 day payment terms, this will offer some relief in the coming months.

In response to the pandemic, the government of Canada has put together the Canada Emergency Response Benefit, or ‘CERB’. To quote directly from the Canadian government:

This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.”

It can be very confusing finding correct information about what the government is doing to help, I will be updating this resource page as new information comes in every few days. As things stand right now, the website to apply for this hasn’t been put in place. Given the scale of the operation the government is undertaking and the fact that this applies to all self-employed individuals, it will take some time for the application process to be up and running and no doubt there will be an immediate surge which will likely cause a backlog. 

Self-employed, freelance photographers would begin receiving their payments within fourteen days of completing an online application (Note that the website currently says 10 days, it has been confirmed that it will now be 14 days). The CERB would be paid every four weeks and will be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020. From my understanding, this means you will receive a back-payment for the period between March 15th and the time the application process goes live.

The government is also allowing all businesses to defer paying income tax until after August 31st if needed. GST/HST payments can be deferred up to June 30th.

If you own a photography studio and have employees, the government announced an "up to 75% wage subsidy" for those employees on March 27th. This subsidy will cover up to three months, retroactive to March 15th 2020. More information on the eligibility criteria for this will be announced in the coming weeks.

Key takeaways:

- $2,000 CERB taxable payments for up to four months. Application process available in April.

- Deferred income tax payments until after August 31st

- Deferred GST/HST payments up to June 30th

- An 'up to 75%' wage subsidy for photographers with employees.

For more information on the current benefits available to self-employed photographers within Canada, visit:

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