The Ontario Legislature is being recalled Thursday, March 19 for the introduction of special legislation during the COVID-19 situation.
The first bill will relate to employment standards for absences during the ongoing health emergency. The second will allow municipal councils to achieve quorum electronically so that the business of local government can continue while adhering to public health recommendations on social distancing.
I will provide full details of the legislation once it is made available.
Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan
The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
On March 18, 2020, the Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses.
Visit their website.
Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program
Interim Property Tax Grace Period for All Property Owners
The interim tax bills, which represent 50 per cent of the previous year’s tax bill, were mailed to property owners in mid-February with payment to the City of Ottawa due Thursday, March 19, 2020.
The City will be extending a payment grace period to April 15, 2020, pending approval at the March 25, 2020 Council meeting or at the earliest available opportunity. It is important to note that property owners who are enrolled in pre-authorized debit plans are not affected by the grace period and do not need to take any action. More information on property tax bills can be found on the Taxes homepage on ottawa.ca.
New 2020 Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program
In recognition of the evolving uncertainty for residents and small businesses related to COVID-19, Mayor Watson will bring forth a motion to City Council seeking approval of a new 2020 Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program for City of Ottawa residential property owners and small business property owners (assessed property value of up to $2.5 M) that have been financially affected as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This is a targeted support program, and the identified commercial property value threshold of up to $2.5 M will help the City assist the majority of small business owners without providing financial assistance to those who do not require it. Revenue Services has chosen not to impose a cap on the assessed value for residential property owners, since many circumstances resulting from this pandemic could lead to residents’ difficulty in remitting municipal taxes on time.
To qualify, an account would need to have been paid up to date before the interim tax instalment. The full details of the Property Tax Hardship Deferral Program will be provided to Council for approval on March 25, 2020 or at the earliest available opportunity.
If approved, the deferral application will be available online and would extend the interim (March 19) and final (June 18) tax due dates to October 30, 2020. The motion will define the criteria of property owner eligibility.
Tax & Water Bill Deferral Program for Seniors and Persons with Disabilities
The City of Ottawa already offers two deferral programs for property taxes for low-income seniors and low-income people with disabilities. Under these existing programs, eligible homeowners may apply for a full or partial deferral of their annual property taxes.
The City also offers a deferral program for water utility bills for low-income seniors and low-income people with disabilities. Eligible homeowners may apply for a deferral of their water utility bills.
Applying for both programs can be done online via email. Information on eligibility and how to apply can be found on ottawa.ca.
The City of Ottawa has suspended all water service disconnections due to non-payment until further notice.
Farm Grant Program
The Farm Grant Program provides financial relief to working farmers. The grant program will assist eligible farm property owners by allowing the June final tax instalment to be paid in December 8, 2020, as already prescribed. More information on the program and eligibility can be found on ottawa.ca.