Government Assistance & Support

Throughout the COVID-19 Pandemic all levels of government have made a significant and concerted effort to assist businesses endure and succeed during one of the most significant public health and economic crises in history. There are a wide range of financial and taxation supports available to businesses at this time, and below you will find a summary of the most commonly utilized programs helping keep Canadian businesses operating and Canadians employed.

Wage Subsidies, Avoiding Layoffs, Employee Support

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is providing eligible small employers a temporary Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

The CEWS applies to any eligible employers who experienced any drop in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsidy rate varies depending on how much your revenue dropped. It is important to note that this subsidy has evolved over the course of the past year where the government altered eligibility criteria as well as maximum subsidy values to reflect current needs.

Given the ferocity of the second wave and its expected economic impact, the government is proposing to increase the maximum subsidy rate to 75 per cent for the period beginning December 20, 2020 and to extend this rate until March 13, 2021, to provide greater certainty to employers.

Essentially, the base wage subsidy of up to 40% calculated on the basis of revenue lost remain in effect. If your business is experiencing a 50% decrease in revenues, you are eligible for this base amount. Businesses experiencing less than a 50% decrease in revenues are eligible for the CEWS on the basis of a formula calculation.

The federal government has launched an updated CEWS online calculator, to help employers prepare to apply for the CEWS program.

For businesses experiencing significant decrease in revenues, there is the Top Up Subsidy. The Top Up Subsidy is available to businesses experiencing a greater than 50% decline in revenues on the basis of a formula calculation for up to a maximum of a 65% wage subsidy top up.

Click here to learn more about the CEWS and additional Top Up Support.

For the most up to date information on the wage subsidy, you can access the government’s CEWS FAQ, available here.

The CRA’s dedicated CEWS number 1-833-966-2099 offers access to agents who can provide information about eligibility requirements, calculating the CEWS, or how to apply. The line operates from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. local time.Employers can make changes or adjustments to their applications, even after they’ve been submitted.

The Work Sharing Program allows for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19.

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.

The Program allows employers to retain qualified and experienced workers, and avoid recruiting and training new employees.

Work Sharing is an agreement between employers, employees and the Government of Canada. The government extended the maximum duration of the Work Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers affected by COVID-19.

For more information on the Work-Sharing Program, click here or call the toll-free number: 1-800-367-5693

Financial Support, Loans, Access to Credit, and Grants

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy is for 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.

Click here to learn more.

For organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory, the government proposed a top-up under the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to provide additional support while facing lockdowns.

The new Lockdown Support of up to 25% additional rent support would be available to organizations with locations that are temporarily forced to close or temporarily have their business activities significantly restricted by a public health order.

Click here to learn more about this additional funding opportunity.

The Federal government announced the Canada Emergency Business Account, which will offer government guaranteed loans of up to $60,000 for small- and medium-sized businesses and not-for-profits, which will be interest-free for the first year. Qualifying businesses will have upwards of $20,000 of these loans forgiven by the government.

To qualify, organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. To access this loan, speak to your financial institution.

CEBA applications have been extended from from March 31 to June 30, 2021. This deadline extension applies to any new applications for CEBA loans of $60,000 or to new applications from businesses that have already received the $40,000 loan and intend to apply for the additional $20,000.

Click here to learn more and apply.

The Government of Canada has set up a new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) to be delivered by the regional development agencies (RDAs). The RRRF will provide interest-free loans to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The RDA for southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario will work with key partners such as the Community Futures Development Corporations across the region to help southern Ontario businesses during these difficult times. A total of $436.4 million will be available for southern Ontario businesses.

Businesses that are unable to access existing relief measures, can apply for funding under this new initiative.

SMEs will have been expected to have already applied to other Government of Canada emergency credit relief measures, for which they are eligible, including:

  • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA);
  • Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) – Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Co-Lending and Export Development Corporation (EDC) Loan Guarantee programs;
  • BDC COVID-19 Working Capital loans; as well as,
  • Other targeted and sector-specific COVID-19 programs (e.g., funding for Indigenous Entrepreneurs, Farm Credit Canada).

Applications for funding are accepted on an ongoing basis with no submission deadlines, until the Fund is fully committed. One Application for Funding per applicant is permitted. Multiple and concurrent applications from the same applicant will not be considered.

You can apply for the RRRF through FedDev Ontario.

Click here to learn more and apply.

The federal government announced a new loan program aimed at providing financing access to large employers impacted by COVID-19.

The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility will allow companies to access additional liquidity to keep their operations going, retain workers on payroll, and avoid bankruptcy.

The federal government is offering companies across almost all sectors that have larger financing needs access to loans of up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million.

The new program comes with a series of terms and conditions.

  • Eligible companies must have annual revenues of at least $300 million
  • Businesses in the financial sector are not eligible, nor are any firms convicted of tax evasion in the past.
  • LEEFF applicants must have “significant operations or workforce in Canada”
  • Successful applicants will have to report annually on its climate and sustainability initiatives
  • The federal government intends to implement strict limits on executive pay and share buybacks, and will expect firms to respect all collective bargaining agreements and pensions.

Click here to apply.

The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) supports financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). Under this program, BDC and EDC will enhance their cooperation with private sector lenders to coordinate financing and credit insurance solutions for Canadian businesses.

  • Small Business Loans and Working Capital Loans
    • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months for qualifying businesses;
    • Postponement of payments for up to 6 months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less;
    • Reduced rates on new eligible loans;
    • To access these loans, click here or here or call 1-877-232-2269
  • Purchase order financing to cover up to 90 per cent of purchase order amounts to ease cash flow to suppliers

The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) is a new program for the hardest hit businesses, including those in sectors like tourism and hospitality, hotels, arts and entertainment. HASCAP will help businesses with their day-to-day operating costs during the COVID-19 crisis and enable them to invest in their longer-term prosperity.

This stream will offer 100 percent government-guaranteed financing for heavily impacted businesses, and provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million over extended terms, up to ten years. Hard-hit businesses, like a chain of hotels or restaurants with multiple locations under one related entity, could be eligible for up to $6.25 million. Rates will be lower than those offered in BCAP and beneath typical market rates for hard hit sectors.

To be eligible for HASCAP, businesses need to show a year-over-year revenue decline of at least 50% in three months, within the eight months prior to their application. They must also be able to show their financial institutions that they have previously applied for either the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.

Eligible businesses can start applying as early as February 1 at principal financial institutions and more widely by February 15. Interested businesses should contact their primary lender to get more information and to apply.

More information is available at bdc.ca/hascap.

Ontario recognizes that there are many businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector that require support to get through this difficult time. This is why the government is introducing the new Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant, which will provide an estimated $100 million in one‐time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses.

As they look ahead to the upcoming spring and summer tourism season, these eligible small businesses can apply for support to help them recover from the impacts of COVID‐19 as well as to help create and protect jobs. Businesses must demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline and have less than 100 employees to qualify.

Further application details can be found at Ontario.ca/COVIDsupport.

Any small businesses that received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will not be eligible for this new grant.

The Ontario government is making $600 million in funding available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to the Red/Control or Lockdown categories. Rebates will cover the period of time that businesses are required to temporarily close.

Beginning on November 16, 2020, eligible businesses are able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal.

The application portal also provides additional resources to businesses beyond property tax and energy cost rebates, such as a small funding grant for PPE.

Many businesses should expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of finalizing and submitting their completed application.

For more information on this funding opportunity, click here.

Sector Specific Support

For more information on sector-specific support for your business, click here.

Financial Support for Self-Employed Individuals

The new CRB provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for workers who have stopped working or had their income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19, and who are not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI).

Click here for full eligibility details on the CRB and information on how to apply.

City of Hamilton Support

While municipal governments do not have the same financial resources or capacity to administer funding support programs, the City of Hamilton has recently taken some actions through the Mayor’s Task Force on Economic Recovery (MTFER) to assist local businesses through the COVID-19 Pandemic.

The MTFER convened a working group of multi-sectoral leaders from across Hamilton over a period of several months to develop a long-term economic recovery strategy for the consideration of the City and Council. The final report was presented to the General Issues Committee and a number of its recommendations were immediately actioned.

First and foremost, this COVID-19 Concierge Service has been made available to Hamilton businesses as a partnership between the City of Hamilton Economic Development, the Hamilton Business Centre and the local Chambers of Commerce to create a one-stop resource centre for COVID-19 related information for local businesses.

Additional supports to help Hamilton businesses:

  • Freezing all General Business License Fees, Trade License Fees, Taxi and Personal Transportation Fees, and Film Permit Fees at 2020 levels for 2021;
  • One-time enhancement grant of $10K to each of the City’s 13 Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) to support special programming in 2021;
  • City of Hamilton Economic Development and Tourism Departments to dedicate enhanced focus on supporting local tourism in 2021 programming; and,
  • Directing City Staff to report back on options for the creation of a Small Business Property Tax Sub-Class that would provide targeted financial relief to local businesses.