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.
Click here for a full list of non-essential businesses. Businesses who have questions about these closures 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
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 program would be in place for a 12-week period, from March 15 to June 6, 2020. Learn more.
Eligible employers would be able to access this subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal. More details regarding how to apply for the program will follow.
- Any company can qualify no matter what size, with the exception of public sector entities.
- Businesses must demonstrate a 15 per cent decline in revenue for the month of March, as the impacts of COVID-19 weren’t felt until half way through the month.
- Businesses can now compare their revenue of March, April and May 2020 to that of the same month of 2019, or to an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020. Companies are still required to demonstrate a 30 per cent decrease in revenue for April and May to be eligible for the subsidy.
- In addition, non-profits and charities are now being allowed to exclude government funding in their calculations when applying.
- An eligible employer’s entitlement to this wage subsidy will be based entirely on the salary or wages actually paid to employees.
Important Note: Those organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10% paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Learn more.
The Government of Canada also warned against companies seeking to take advantage of this subsidy or make fraudulent claims.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program
This Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program will help support small businesses with rent for the months of April, May and June. The Federal government must work with Provinces and Territories to roll this program out. More details to come.
Support for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations
The COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations will provide $500 million to help address the financial needs of affected organizations within these sectors. The fund will be administered by Canadian Heritage via contribution agreements. Learn more.
- 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. 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.
- 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.
Additional capital for businesses with larger financing needs, beginning with companies in Canada’s energy sector, to help them maintain operations and keep their employees on the job.
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.
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 the government of Ontario. The Ontario Together Fund will help companies retool, build capacity or adopt the technological changes needed to produce supplies and equipment for hospitals, long-term care homes and other critical public services. Learn more.
Other Business Supports
Ontario is deferring Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums and expenses for employers for 6 months.
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 has announced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) for workers who lose income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit are now open at Canada.ca/coronavirus or by phone 1-833-966-2099.
The benefit will be available to workers:
- Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
- Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job;
- Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
- Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment income.
To help more Canadians benefit from the CERB, the government is announcing changes to the eligibility rules to:
- Allow people to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
- Extend the CERB to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
- Extend the CERB to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
These changes will be retroactive to March 15, 2020. All details available on the Canada Emergency Response Benefi portal.
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
- Pragmatic, effective strategies to help your business navigate the COVID-19 crisis – Cash Flow
- 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)
Industry Specific Resources
- Preparing your Real Estate and Construction Business for COVID-19 Business Interruptions
- What You Need to Know About New Support Programs for Entrepreneurs
- Navigating Your Medical/Dental Practice Through COVID-19
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.