Updated Jan. 6, 2021
- Federal Programs
- Provincial Programs
- City of Toronto Programs
- Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas Programs
- Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario
- The Toronto Board of Trade
Government of Canada COVID-19 support for businesses main page:
Current Federal programs available:
- Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) interest-free loans
- Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
- 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers
- Temporary changes to the Canada Summer jobs program
- EDC Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Guarantee
- Work Sharing Program
- Supporting Black business owners and entrepreneurs through the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund
Access to credit: The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free loans of up to $60,000 (new: increased from $40,000 on Dec. 4, 2020) to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. This program has been implemented by banks and credit unions in collaboration with Export Development Canada.
CEBA has been extended to March 31, 2021 (new: deadline extended on Dec. 4, 2020). If you have already applied for CEBA and have questions, please contact the CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201. Please note, in order to provider a quicker response time and improve the overall customer experience you will be asked to leave a call back number. An agent will return your call between Monday and Friday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm EST and can address the following types of questions:
- What is the status of my application?
- Why was my application declined?
- Why was my submitted document rejected?
The CEBA Call Centre is experiencing significant call volumes. As a result, a return call may take more than 7 business days.
The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) program
Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021.
This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.
- The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The rent subsidy is provided directly to tenants, while also providing support to property owners. The new rent subsidy supports businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.
- A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy.
PREVIOUS: On Oct. 9, 2020, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, announced the Government of Canada’s intention to introduce new, targeted supports to help businesses experiencing a drop in revenue. The government plans to introduce legislation to provide support that would help these businesses safely get through the second wave of the virus and the winter, cover costs so they can continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery: To read the full release from the Government of Canada, please click here.
PREVIOUS: On April 24, 2020 Prime Minister Trudeau announced the details of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program.
Full news release
This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.
The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent.
Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.
The federal government has confirmed that this is available to all landlords, regardless of whether or not they currently have a mortgage. If you don’t have a mortgage, you can still access the loan. Mechanically it’s similar to taking out a new mortgage.
And for those who don’t have mortgages because the building/land cost is using a different debt mechanism (e.g. large commercial/industrial building tenants), those landlords will also be able to access the CECRA.
Applications will be accepted through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) website beginning on May 25. While the portal opens on Monday, Ontario property owners are being asked to register on Tuesdays.
Full information can be found on the CMHC site. CLICK HERE
The CEWS program: providing small business with wage subsidies:
Canadian employers who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your employee wages, retroactive to March 15, 2020. This subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease your business back into normal operations. As of Jan. 6, 20201, the subsidy has been extended to Mar. 13, 2021.
The subsidy rate varies depending on the revenue drop as well as the period. For example, the new maximum top-up subsidy rate is 35% for the period covering Dec. 20, 2020 to Mar. 13, 2021 – “Periods 11 to 13” (for a total subsidy of 75%). This is in comparison to the maximum top-up subsidy rate of 25% (for a total subsidy of 65%) for the Periods 8 to 10.
PREVIOUS: NOV. 2020 UPDATE: Eligible employers who had any drop in revenue can now qualify for the wage subsidy, starting with the claim periods that began July 5. Changes include:
- the subsidy rate varies, depending on how much your revenue dropped
- if your revenue drop was less than 30% you can still qualify, and keep getting the subsidy as employees return to work and your revenue recovers
- employers who were hardest hit over a period of three months get a higher amount
- employees who were unpaid for 14 or more days can now be included in your calculation
- use the current period’s revenue drop or the previous period’s, whichever works in your favour
- for periods 5 and 6, if your revenue dropped at least 30%, your subsidy rate will be at least 75%
- even if your revenue has not dropped for the claim period, you can still qualify if your average revenue over the previous three months dropped more than 50%
- the maximum base subsidy rate is 60% in claim periods 5 and 6
- the maximum base subsidy rate will begin to decline in claim period 7, gradually reducing to 20% in period 9
The 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers
(The Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy is a separate program)
The 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
You are an eligible employer if you are an individual, a partnership, non-profit, registered charity, or a Canadian controlled private corporation and have an existing business number and payroll program account with the CRA on March 18, 2020, and pay salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration to an eligible employee. The subsidy is equal to 10% of the remuneration you pay from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, up to $1,375 for each eligible employee to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer.
How will I receive the subsidy?
You do not need to apply for the subsidy.
You will continue deducting income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions, and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums from salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration paid to your employees, as you currently do.
The subsidy is calculated when you remit these amounts to the CRA.
Once you have calculated your subsidy, you can reduce your current payroll remittance of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax that you send to the CRA by the amount of the subsidy.
More information: https://www.canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/campaigns/covid-19-update/frequently-asked-questions-wage-subsidy-small-businesses.html
Temporary changes to the Canada Summer jobs program
Temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program will allow employers to:
- receive an increased wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee; extend the end date for employment to February 28, 2021;
- adapt their projects and job activities;
- hire staff on a part-time basis.
- Applications are due by January 29, 2021
- The earliest job start date is April 26, 2021
- The latest job start date is January 15, 2022
- The latest job end date is February 26, 2022
- The latest date to submit a payment claim is 30 days following the completion of the Canada Summer Jobs-funded work placement
EDC Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Guarantee
Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Business Development Canada (BDC) is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.
The program offers differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues.
This support is available until June 2021.
Work sharing program
Work-Sharing (WS) is a program that helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary decrease in business activity beyond the control of the employer. The program provides Employment Insurance (EI) benefits to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work while their employer recovers. Work-Sharing is an agreement between employers, employees and the Government of Canada.
Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, the Federal Government is extending the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.
To find out if you’re eligible, please read the application guide (link below). To be eligible your business must be a private or publicly-held company, have been in year-round business for at least two year, demonstrate a recent business decrease of approximately 10%, demonstrate that the work shortage is temporary and beyond your control, and submit and implement a recovery plan designed to return the Work-Sharing unit(s) to normal working hours by the end of the Work-Sharing agreement.
For your employees to be eligible they must be core employees, be eligible to receive EI benefits, and agree to a reduction of their normal working hours in order to share available work. A minimum of two employees is required for a work-sharing agreement.
Application guide: https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/canada/employment-social-development/migration/documents/assets/portfolio/docs/en/work_sharing/Work_sharing_applicant_guide.pdf
To apply: https://www.canada.ca/en/employment-social-development/services/work-sharing/apply.html
Supporting Black Business owners and entrepreneurs through the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund
The Federal Government plans to support Black business owners and entrepreneurs through the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000.
This initiative is part of the Black Entrepreneurship Program, in which the Government of Canada is investing up to nearly $93 million.
The Government of Canada will provide more details on eligibility requirements and how to apply soon.
Province of Ontario COVID-19 main page:
Current Provincial programs available:
- Ontario Small Business Support Grant
- Ontario’s Main Street Relief Grant: PPE support
- Property tax and energy bill rebates
- Interest and Penalty Relief for Businesses
- Employer Health Tax
- Postponing Planned Property Tax Reassessment
- Electrical bills
- WSIB payment deferrals
Ontario Small Business Support Grant
In January 2021, applications will open for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will help small businesses that are required to close or significantly restrict services under the new Province-wide Shutdown.
Starting at $10,000 for all eligible businesses, the grant will provide businesses with dollar for dollar funding to a maximum of $20,000 to help cover decreased revenue expected as a result of the Province-wide Shutdown. The business must demonstrate they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent when comparing monthly revenue in April 2019 and April 2020. This time period was selected because it reflects the impact of the public health measures in spring 2020, and as such provides a representation of the possible impact of these latest measures on small businesses.
Businesses will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for them.
Full details are expected in January, 2021.
Ontario’s Main Street Relief Grant: PPE support
Eligible small businesses will get one-time grants of up to $1,000 to assist small businesses with the unexpected costs of PPE.
Property tax and energy bill rebates
Businesses that are, or were, required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures can apply for rebates, provided in the form of grants, to help with their fixed costs.
Businesses struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19 may also be eligible for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB), which you can apply to through your utility provider.
All small businesses that are eligible for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant are also eligible for these property tax and energy bill rebates.
Interest and Penalty Relief for Businesses – Relief is automatic
UPDATE: The Ontario Government has resumed it’s regular audit and tax interactions with Ontario businesses. As of Oct. 2, 2020, regular filling and payment activities resumed, and regular penalties and interest apply.
PREVIOUS UPDATE (Aug. 12, 2020) – Extending the interest and penalty relief period Any outstanding returns and taxes that were due between April 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020 (during the relief period) are now due by October 1, 2020. Beginning October 2, 2020, regular filling and payment activities will resume, and regular penalties and interest apply.
The Province extended the end of the relief period by one month from August 31, 2020 to October 1, 2020.
PREVIOUSLY – On March 25, 2020, the Ontario government announced a five-month relief period for Ontario businesses who are unable to file or remit select provincial taxes on time, due to the special circumstances caused by the coronavirus (COVID‑19) in Ontario.
The following provincial taxes are included in the relief period:
• Employer Health Tax
• Tobacco Tax
• Fuel Tax
• Gas Tax
• Beer, Wine & Spirits Tax
• Mining Tax
• Insurance Premium Tax
• International Fuel Tax Agreement
• Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts and Benefit Plans
• Race Tracks Tax
More info: https://budget.ontario.ca/2020/marchupdate/relief-measures.html
Employer Health Tax
UPDATE: The Ontario Government has resumed it’s regular audit and tax interactions with Ontario businesses. As of Oct. 2, 2020, regular filling and payment activities resumed, and regular penalties and interest apply.
PREVIOUS UPDATE (Aug. 12, 2020): The Ontario government has extended the interest and penalty relief period by one month to October 1, 2020. The Ministry of Finance is resuming its regular audit interactions with Ontario businesses and representatives
On March 25, 2020, the Ontario government announced relief measures to help support Ontario businesses including increasing the Employer Health Tax exemption for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million and a five‑month relief period for Ontario businesses who are unable to file or remit their provincial taxes on time due to the special circumstances caused by the coronavirus (COVID‑19) in Ontario
Postponing Planned Property Tax Reassessment
The next property valuation to be completed by the Municipal Property Assessment Corporation (MPAC) in 2020 for the 2021 year has been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. As a result, the assessments for the 2021 taxation year will continue to be based on the same valuation date that was in effect for the 2020 taxation year.
More info: https://budget.ontario.ca/2020/marchupdate/annex.html#section-4
Making electricity bills more affordable for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers through a $1.5 billion increase in electricity cost relief compared to the 2019 Budget. In addition, the Province is also setting electricity prices for time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days, to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage as they respond to the COVID‑19 outbreak, addressing concerns about time-of-use metering
WSIB payment deferrals
Providing up to $1.9 billion in financial relief by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months
City of Toronto
City of Toronto COVID-19 Economic Support & Resources for Businesses main page:
City of Toronto Programs Available:
- BusinessTO Support Centre
- Extend Grace Periods for Property Taxes & Utility Bills
- Toronto Hydro
- 24-hour Retail Delivery Exemption
- Ritual – Open For Business
- The City of Toronto Facade Improvement Program
BusinessTO Support Centre
The City of Toronto recently announced a new service, called the BusinessTO Support Centre, to assist businesses in completing applications for government assistance programs.
The BusinessTO Support Centre provides one-on-one virtual support to help businesses complete applications for Government of Canada COVID-19 funding programs and get general business advice.
Extend Grace Periods for Property Taxes & Utility Bills
UPDATE: Property Tax Grace Period Ended
The 60-day grace period for property tax and utility bill payments and late penalties ended on May 15. View the billing dates for the rest of 2020.
PREVIOUS POST: The City will be suspending all pending automated withdrawals that have been scheduled for all City residents and businesses within the next 60-day period but not yet withdrawn.
Customers will be advised in advance of any rescheduling of revised withdrawal due dates and amounts following the 60-day grace period.
Customers who pay their taxes through their mortgage should contact their mortgage company or financial institution to understand how this grace period will affect their mortgage amount and/or mortgage payment schedule.
For all property owners who have submitted post-dated cheques for upcoming property tax instalments, all post-dated cheques will be held and not cashed until 60 days after the original instalment due date – for example, post-dated cheques intended for the April 1 instalment will be cashed on June 1, and post-dated cheques for the May 1 instalment will be cashed on July 2, 2020. Any other post-dated cheques received before May 1, 2020 will be held for a period of 60 days from the date of the cheque before being cashed.
The City is providing a grace period for payments and payment penalties for 60 days, starting March 16, 2020.
This grace period applies to all customers. At this time we are unable to process individual requests to have pre-authorized payments or post-dated cheques processed as scheduled.
UPDATE JAN. 1, 2021: The Ontario government has announced temporary relief by holding the price of electricity at the fixed rate of 8.5¢/kWh for all customers paying Time-of-Use (TOU) and Tiered rates under the Regulated Price Plan (RPP). This reduced rate will automatically be applied to your bill — no customer action is required. Delivery Charges, the Global Adjustment and the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) for eligible customers were also updated.
PREVIOUS UPDATE, JUN. 1, 2020: Effective June 1, 2020, the Government of Ontario announced the COVID-19 Recovery Rate for customers who pay Time-of-Use (TOU) electricity rates. Residential and small business customers paying TOU rates will be charged a fixed rate of 12.8¢/kWh for all electricity usage, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The government has extended this rate relief to TOU customers until October 31, 2020.
For help with billing concerns and payment options, please contact Toronto Hydro’s Customer Care team directly at 416-542-8000.
PREVIOUS UPDATE, MAR. 24, 2020: households, farms and small businesses that pay time-of-use electricity rates will be charged the off-peak rate of 10.1¢ per kWh, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
In addition, Toronto Hydro has extended its current suspension of electricity disconnections for low-volume small business customers until July 31, 2020. They’re encouraging business customers to contact their Customer Care team directly at 416-542-8000 for help with billing concerns and payment options.
24-hour Retail Delivery Exemption
Until further notice all retail businesses are exempt from the City of Toronto Noise Bylaw to facilitate after-hour deliveries.
The City’s Noise Bylaw includes the ability to provide an exemption in response to extraordinary circumstances affecting the immediate health, safety or welfare of the community. This exemption will ensure retailers can receive deliveries 24 hours of a day, seven days a week to ensure essential goods remain in stock.
Ritual – Open for Business
The City of Toronto is extending its partnership with Ritual to launch Open For Business – a collaboration with Ritual and DoorDash to help local businesses across Toronto increase their commission-free online sales. Any Toronto business that wants to access commission-free pickup and delivery can participate.
Businesses enrolled in the City’s ShopHERE program will also be eligible.
The program runs until the end of the year.
Learn about Open For Business and enroll .
Set up to support the economic recovery of Toronto’s restaurant community, ToGoToronto.com is a promoted online listing of Toronto restaurants that are open for safe takeout or delivery. Restaurants are invited to add their business to the listing.
The City of Toronto Commercial Façade Improvement Program
Jan. 6, 2021 UPDATE: The BIA has confirmed that the Facade Improvement Grant will be going forward in 2021 and will actually be expanded this year to include interior renovations that promote public health and safe distancing. Unfortunately however, we don’t have a timeline for when the application will go live at this time. We have been told February – March but with the expansion of the program it could be delayed.
Business owners can prepare however. We suggest finding 2 contractors and getting 2 separate quotes for all work you want done. The quotes need to spec the same work. In the past this has taken some business owners quite a bit of time to schedule and coordinate so having them ready will allow you to move quickly when the applications go live. We will update when new information comes available.
PREVIOUS: The Application Deadline for the Commercial Facade Improvement Program has been extended to Thursday, July 9, 2020, 4:30 pm.
The extension will allow applicants more time to secure quotes for facade work. We will continue review applications on a first-come, first serve basis.
More information: https://www.toronto.ca/business-economy/business-operation-growth/business-improvement-areas/bia-financial-incentives/commercial-facade-improvement/
To apply: https://www.toronto.ca/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/938f-edc-2020-Commercial-Industrial-Facade-Grant-Application.pdf
Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas (TABIA)
Current TABIA Programs:
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of having an online presence to sell goods and services. This is tool is amplified that much more with the curbside pick up approach to the first stage of opening Ontario’s retail businesses.
Leveraging Toronto’s technology community, the City of Toronto and Digital Main Street have brought together a range of partners to build and optimize online stores for Toronto’s independent businesses and artists at no-cost.
Thanks to volunteer developers, marketing and business students, and the support of corporate partners, Toronto’s independent businesses and artists – whether they are along a main street, in an industrial park, or a studio – can access ShopHERE to get their online store built and launched with hands-on support throughout the entire process in just a matter of days.
What do businesses and artists get as part of ShopHERE?
- Their choice of a template online Shopify store customized with their information, branding, logo, etc.
- Hands-on assistance setting up and launching their online store.
- Training and support covering digital marketing, shipping and operating their online store.
- Access to free tools and various credits (from over 10 partners) to help support the launch of their online stores.
The ShopHERE program is open to any businesses or artist that meets the following requirements:
- Pays commercial property taxes in the City of Toronto
- Have fewer than 10 employees, or fewer than 25 if they are a café, restaurant, or bar
- Not be a corporate chain or franchise
- OR must be an artist located within the City of Toronto.
To sign up for this exciting program and receive a free online store you can fill out the application form here: https://digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere/
If you have any questions, reach out to Jackie Michie at Digital Main Street at jackie.Michie@digitalmainstreet.ca.
Receiving Donations through Distantly.ca:
TABIA has been collaborating with a Toronto-based technology firm and a number of concerned local citizens to launch a tool which would allow our/your small business owners to receive donations and help them alleviate overwhelming expenses, such as rent and payroll, during these tough and unexpected times amidst COVID-19.
The tool is called www.Distantly.ca.
In less than 5 minutes, your business can create a business profile and securely connect their bank account. Once their account is created, they will be able to share their page, via email and social media, to collect financial contributions from the community. Contributions can be as low as $1 and as high as the generosity of an individual. ALL contributions are deposited directly to the businesses bank account securely within 48 hours or less.
Totum Life Science, a Toronto staple, is an example of a small business already on the platform, which has been Bata tested over the last week. Check out their Distantly business page at www.distantly.ca/totum. If you’d like to connect with Distantly users Stacy and Tim Irvine, co-owners of Totum Life Science, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
There is absolutely no cost to the BIA’s or the businesses that join the platform. It is an opportunity for your businesses to leverage their communities and audiences to raise funds during these extremely challenging times.
Alcohol Gaming Commission of Ontario
As part of its broader package of measures to support Ontarians and businesses that have been significantly impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19, the Government has amended Regulation 719 under the Liquor Licence Act (LLA) to temporarily allow liquor sales licensees (i.e., licensed bars and restaurants) to sell beer, wine and spirits as part of a food order for takeout or delivery. These changes are effective immediately, and last until December 31, 2020.
Full details here: https://www.agco.ca/bulletin/2020/info-bulletin-no-61-liquor-sales-licensees-may-now-sell-liquor-takeout-or-delivery
The Canadian Federation of Independent Business
The CFIB has a small business help centre which includes live chat availability:
The Board of Trade:
The Toronto Board of Trade also has a help site with live chat assistance: https://supportbusiness.bot.com/?fbclid=IwAR2IYXfgrEkbUkkt17aoDUv36941waeRJ-CANjf7xpJFxBaQVSCD1wbybsk#