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COVID-19: A roundup of economic relief measures for Nova Scotians

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, the Nova Scotia government has announced a number of emergency measures to support Nova Scotians affected by the pandemic. Below is a roundup. We will update this as things change or new measures are added.

Please see the federal COVID-19 support program measures here.

Updated: June 5, 2020

New virtual care codes for physicians

(see p.12 in doctorsNS Magazine)

What is it?

  • A new health service code 03.03X is available for billing on an interim basis for telephone management and telehealth management for presumptive/confirmed Covid-19 diagnosis as well as routine/interval care during the pandemic.
  • This includes all office based non-procedural services that are normally rendered in a face to face setting whether they are provided in person, by telephone, via telehealth network, or via a PHIA compliant virtual care platform.

Who’s eligible?

  • The new code can only be claimed when rendered personally by the physician and not another health care provider such as a nurse, nurse practitioner.
  • Exceptions: resident including a licensed post graduate medical training (e.g., PGY-6 or PGY-7) under the direct supervision of a physician. See full criteria in the March 27, 2020 MSI Physicians’ Bulletin.

When is it effective?

  • March 13, 2020.

Income stability program for fee-for-service physicians

(see p.10 in doctorsNS Magazine)

 

What is it?

  • Doctors of Nova Scotia (DNS) and Department of Health and Wellness (DWH) provide the option to participate in a new income stability program for fee-for-service (FFS) physicians, where physicians will have a secure base compensation and are paid for their COVID redeployment work in addition.
  • Physicians choose between a fixed bi-weekly payment based on 80% of their 2019 billings (to a maximum of $23,014 bi-weekly), or a temporary APP of $260,000 annually ($9,973 bi-weekly, prorated).

Who’s eligible?

  • The program is open to all FFS family physicians and specialists on a voluntary basis.

How to apply

  • Apply online via the DNS website by May 7, 2020.

Deferral of payments on government loans to businesses

What is it?

  • Deferral of payment on all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia.

Who’s eligible?

  • Small and medium-sized businesses.

When is it in effect?

  • Immediately until June 30, 2020.

Small business fee relief

What is it?

  • Deferral of payment on small business fees, including business renewal fees and workers compensation employer premiums.

Who’s eligible?

  • Small and medium-sized businesses.

When is it in effect?

  • Immediately until June 30, 2020.

Small Business Loan Guarantee Program relief and enhancements

What is it?

  • Deferral of principal and interest payments on loans provided through the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through credit unions.
  • Enhancements to the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000.
  • For businesses that might not qualify for a loan, the provincial government will guarantee the first $100,000.

Who’s eligible?

  • Small businesses.

When is it in effect?

  • Immediately until June 30.

Expedited payments to small businesses

What is it?

  • Small businesses that do business with the government will be paid within five days instead of the standard 30 days.

Who’s eligible?

  • Small businesses.

When is it in effect?

  • Immediately.

Student loan relief

What is it?

  • Automatic suspension of payments on Nova Scotia student loans for six months.

When is it in effect?

  • March 30 to September 30.

WCB premiums relief

What is it?

  • Workers’ Compensation Board employer premium payments are deferred for three months. Premiums will accrue, but interest and late payment fees will be waived until further notice.

Who’s eligible?

  • All employers registered for WCB coverage.

When is it in effect?

  • Immediately until June 30, 2020.

Utility payment relief

 

 

What is it? 

  • Nova Scotia Power will not disconnect customers’ utilities for non-payment and will waive penalties for non-payment. Contact customer service to discuss options.
  • Nova Scotia Power is also providing an additional $500,000 to support customers through the Home Energy Assistance Top-up (HEAT Fund). The HEAT Fund is available annually to individuals and families in Nova Scotia who live on a low income to help pay their energy bill for all forms of home heating, including electric, propane, oil, wood and natural gas. The application deadline is extended indefinitely, and the application restriction on applying only every 24 months is waived, meaning customers who received funding in 2019 can also apply for 2020. Learn more.
  • Halifax Water has suspended all disconnections until July 31, 2020, and will review the situation as it evolves. Customers may defer payments until July 31, 2020.

Who’s eligible?

  • All customers of Nova Scotia Power and Halifax Water.

Property tax relief

 

What is it?

How to apply

Emergency leave job protection

What is it?

  • If an employee cannot work because their employer has been ordered, under the Nova Scotia Health Protection Act, to close part or all of their operations, the employee is entitled to emergency leave job protection.  This is one example of the application of the emergency leave provisions, there are other circumstances to which the provisions apply. 

When is it in effect?

  • Nova Scotia declared a state of emergency on March 22, 2020. Employees are entitled to emergency leave for as long as they are unable to perform their work duties as a result of the emergency. Employees eligible for emergency leave must be permitted to return to their job once the emergency ends. 

Relief for landlords and tenants

What is it?

  • Retail and commercial landlords who defer lease payments for the months of April, May and June 2020, for businesses that had to close directly due to the public health order will be able to claim losses of up to $5,000 per month, if the renting business does not keep operating.

Who is eligible?

When is it in effect?

  • Immediately to June 30, 2020.

Other measures

  • Landlords are not permitted to change locks or seize property of businesses who cannot pay rent, if the business closed directly because of COVID-19 public health orders.
  • No tenant can be evicted because their income has been affected by COVID-19, effective immediately for April, May and June 2020.

Additional measures for seniors and vulnerable Nova Scotians

What is it?

  • The provincial government is extending the hours of its toll-free line for income assistance supports, including on weekends.
  • The Department of Health and Wellness will distribute up to 800 iPads to long-term care homes so residents can connect with family and friends.
  • The Department of Community, in partnership with Telus, will provide 100 phones and calling plans to most-vulnerable and isolated clients.

When is it in effect?

  • As the government is able to roll out these measures.

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If you have any questions about these measures, please contact your MD Advisor*. 

* MD Advisor refers to an MD Management Limited Financial Consultant or Investment Advisor (in Quebec), or an MD Private Investment Counsel Portfolio Manager.

Banking and credit products and services are offered by The Bank of Nova Scotia “Scotiabank.” Credit and lending products are subject to credit approval by Scotiabank.