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.
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 Ontario businesses?
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Any company can qualify no matter what size. This includes non-for-profits and charities. Companies must demonstrate their revenues have decreased by 30% or more to be eligible. The federal government will cover up to 75% of an employee’s salary on the first $58,700 earned which means up to $847 a week. Funds will be back-dated to March 15. The Prime Minister encouraged businesses that have the means to pay the remaining 25% of salaries.
The Government of Canada also warned against companies seeking to take advantage of this subsidy or make fraudulent claims.
More details to come tomorrow.
- 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.
Tax Payment Deferrals
Federal taxes: Individuals and businesses will be able to defer their income tax payments (for taxes owed between March 18, 2020 and September 2020) until August 31, 2020. Businesses can defer GST and HST remittances until June 30. Importers can defer customs duty and sales tax payments until June 30.
Provincial and municipal taxes: Ontario is deferring provincially administered taxes from April 1 to August 31 (proposed). Ontario is also deferring education property taxes for 90 days, and working with municipal partners to provide municipal property tax relief to businesses and residents (proposed).
- There are several business tax relief measures in place at the municipal level (e.g. the City of Toronto has an extended grace period for tax and other payments for businesses). Please check your local municipality’s website for more details.
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 (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).
Credit support targeted towards small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) includes:
- Interest-free loans of up to $40,000 through a new Canada Emergency Business Account.
- A loan guarantee for loans of up to $6.25 million.
- A co-lending program between financial institutions and BDC.
Businesses seeking support through these programs should contact the financial institutions with whom they have a pre-existing relationship. Learn more.
Farmers and the agri-food sector will receive additional credit through Farm Credit Canada. Learn more.
Additionally, Ontario is introducing a Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit to support regions lagging in employment growth. The corporate tax credit will be available to eligible Ontario businesses that construct, renovate, or acquire qualifying commercial and industrial buildings in designated regions (proposed).
Finally, if your business is able to manufacture technology, equipment, and medical products to aid in the fight against COVID-19, you may be eligible for funding from:
- Next Generation Manufacturing Canada (NGen). Supercluster funding to support companies as they rapidly respond to the COVID-19 pandemic by building a Canadian supply of essential equipment, products, and therapeutics. Learn more.
- The National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program and Innovative Solutions Canada. Funding for small- and medium-sized businesses (fewer than 500 staff) to supply products or solutions in response to COVID-19 related challenges. Learn more.
Other Business Supports
Ontario is deferring Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums and expenses for employers for 6 months (proposed).
Ontario is temporarily reducing electricity rates for small businesses, farms, and residential customers that pay time-of-use (TOU) rates. TOU rates will be suspended until at least May 8, holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 cents-per-kilowatt-hour.
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.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The federal government is proposing the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for workers who lose income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would provide $2,000 per month for up to four months to Canadians who:
- Have lost their job due to COVID-19;
- Are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19;
- Are working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures; and
- Are still employed, but not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19.
The CERB would apply to workers whether or not they are eligible for EI. This includes wage earners, contract workers, and self-employed individuals.
The portal for accessing the CERB would be available in early April. Learn more.
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
- Small Business Owners Needing Financial Advice: Advocis Connect
- FedDev Ontario
- Business Pandemic Preparedness Checklist from Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS)
- COVID-19 Financing for Small to Medium-Sized Canadian Businesses (Deloitte)
- Combatting COVID-19 with Resilience (Deloitte)
- Business Continuity Guide from the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
- Business Continuity & Recovery Plan (Canadian Chamber of Commerce)
- Crisis Communication Plan (Canadian Chamber of Commerce)
- COVID-19: Business Resilience from The Canadian Chamber of Commerce
- The Ontario Medical Association FAQ about the Coronavirus and Personal Health
- Advice for employers dealing with COVID-19 (Videos) – The Conference Board of Canada
- How to Cope with the Impacts of COVID-19 on your business (BDC)
- Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges (McKinsey)
COVID-19 Implications on the Canadian Economy and Businesses
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.