The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to support Canadian businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. See Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.
Ontario is expected to announce business supports in its upcoming spring economic update on March 25, 2020.
Latest government announcements regarding job protection and support for workers:
We know that this is a difficult time and businesses across the province are faced with many unknowns.
In order to relieve some of the pressure on businesses such as yours, we are gathering all the information you need about government services and supports for your business and your employees and putting it in one location.
Businesses who have questions about closures of at-risk workplaces or how emergency measures impact their business or employment can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. Help is available from Monday to Sunday, from 8:30 a.m.―5:00 p.m.
Please check this page regularly for updates.
Are you a small business in need of assistance?
If you are a tourism operator, a small business or an organization affected by COVID-19 and need pressing assistance, the regional development agencies (RDAs) could assist you with access to federal funding and services.
What government supports are currently available to Canadian businesses?
Canada Revenue Agency
Direct Labour Subsidies
The federal government will provide eligible small businesses with a 10% wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.
Which businesses qualify?
- Non-profit organizations.
- Registered charities.
- Canadian-controlled private corporations with less than $15 million in taxable capital employed in Canada, a measure also used to calculate the existing small business deduction.
Employers benefiting from this measure would include corporations eligible for the small business deduction as well as not-for-profit organisations and charities. You will be able to reduce your remittances of income tax withheld on your employees’ remuneration, and you will be able to keep a portion of your employees’ income tax instead of giving it all to CRA.
Companies and NFPs can start withholding the subsidy from the personal income tax remittances right away. There is no application and approval process.
- Individuals have until June 1, 2020, to submit their income tax return.
- For trusts (having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019), tax filing is deferred until May 1, 2020.
Individuals and businesses will be able to defer their income tax payment (for taxes owed between March 18, 2020 and September 2020) until after August 31, 2020.
Emergency Care Benefit
The government is introducing an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers including the self-employed who are:
- Quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
- Taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19 but do not quality for EI sickness benefits.
- Parents with children who require supervision due to school closures and are unable to earn employment income, regardless of if they qualify for EI or not.
Application for the Benefit starts in April. Apply from one of the three channels below:
- Access it on CRA MyAccount secure portal
- Access it from secure My Service Canada Account
- Call a toll-free number equipped with an automated application process. (This number is yet to be announced).
Individuals will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. More details on how to attest will be updated as provided.
A new Business Credit Availability Program has been announced to make more than $10 billion available to Canadian businesses in financing and credit insurance solutions through:
- Export Development Canada – Toll free number: 1-800-229-0575 / Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Business Development Bank of Canada – Toll free number: 1-877-232-2269
Banks have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis. They would provide:
- Up to a 6-month payment deferral for mortgages
- Opportunity for relief on other credit products
- Increased credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.
For all the details, read the Government of Canada’s full program.
How can I support my employees?
Updates to Legislation Protecting Employees
Job Protected Leave
The Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infectious Disease Emergencies), 2020 provides job protection for employees unable to work for the following reasons:
- The employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19.
- The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
- The employee is in isolation or quarantine in accordance with public health information or direction.
- The employer directs the employee not to work due to a concern that COVID-19 could be spread in the workplace.
- The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure.
- The employee is prevented from returning to Ontario because of travel restrictions.
See the government backgrounder here for more information.
Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits
Employees who are quarantined or who are ordered to self-isolate due to COVID-19 are eligible for EI sick benefits.
- The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim
- Priority EI application processing for EI sickness claims for clients under quarantine
- People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate
- People who cannot complete their claim for EI sickness benefits due to quarantine may apply later and have their EI claim backdated to cover the period of delay.
Employees can contact the new dedicated toll-free phone number if you are in quarantine and seeking to waive the one-week EI sickness benefits waiting period so you can be paid for the first week of your claim:
- Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
- Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742
Employees can apply for employment insurance here. (There is no need for a medical certificate to apply).
Work Sharing Program
Work-Sharing (WS) is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. The measure provides income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance benefits who work a temporarily reduced work week while their employer recovers.
Work-Sharing is a three-party agreement involving employers, employees and Service Canada. Employees on a Work-Sharing agreement must agree to a reduced schedule of work and to share the available work over a specified period of time.
The Government of Canada introduced temporary special measures that extend the maximum duration of Work-Sharing agreements from 38 weeks to 76 weeks across Canada for those businesses affected by the downturn in business due to COVID-19. Learn more.
Please Note: Only those who have used work-sharing program in the past will have the 30 day wait period waived.
Additional Resources for Businesses
- Business Pandemic Preparedness Checklist from Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS)
- Business Continuity Guide from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Business Continuity & Recovery Plan from The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- Crisis Communication Plan from The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- The Ontario Medical Association FAQ about the Coronavirus and Personal Health
Business Travel and Events
Avoid non-essential travel outside of Canada until further notice
- If outside of Canada, return home and self-isolate for 14 days.
- To help bring Canadians home, the Government has created the COVID-19 Emergency Loan Program for Canadians Abroad.
- When it comes to business conferences and events, see what the Government of Canada is advising.
Alternate Ways to Support Local Businesses During This Time
- Purchase gift cards now to use later.
- Buy from local shops over their Etsy pages or their website (e-commerce shops).
- Many local restaurants are offering take-out and delivery options.
- You can also order and have food delivered from local restaurants over UberEats, Skip The Dishes, and Ritual