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.

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

As a Canadian employer who continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible to apply for one of the two subsidies to cover part of your employee wages.

The Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) support wages you pay through different phases of your economic recovery. Each claim period, eligible employers can claim either CRHP or CEWS, whichever is higher.

The CRHP and the CEWS both support the payroll of eligible employers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, while the CEWS was meant to help eligible employers keep their employees on their payroll and help them rehire, the CRHP is designed to encourage businesses to (re)hire and grow as the economy recovers. 

Effective July 7, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) will open applications for eligible employers through My Business Account and Represent a Client. The CRA will begin to issue CRHP payments to eligible employers during the week of July 12, 2021. 

Click here to use the online calculator or downloadable spreadsheet to find the amount of CRHP or CEWS you can claim.

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 September 25, 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.

This program is available until December 31, 2021.

  • 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.

Interested businesses should contact their primary lender to get more information and to apply.

This program is available until December 31, 2021.

More information is available at bdc.ca/hascap.

The Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant provides one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses in the tourism and travel sector.

Applications for this grant will close on Friday, June 25 at 11:59 p.m. EDT.

Recipients will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their business. For example, some businesses could use the support to pay employee wages, while others will use it to invest in their recovery.

Businesses that received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant are not eligible for the new grant. The Ontario Small Business Support Grant was designed to help businesses that were required to close or significantly restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown effective December 26, 2020. The Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant is designed to help small businesses in the tourism and travel sector.

To be eligible for this grant, a business must:

  • Have 99 or fewer employees on April 30, 2021
  • Have a revenue decline of at least 20% if the business began operating or was acquired before July 2, 2019
  • Operate a tourism or travel business in Ontario from an eligible list that began operating before 2021 and was in operation on April 30, 2021

Businesses are not eligible for this grant if they:

  • Received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant
  • Began operating in 2021 or were acquired in 2021
  • Are owned, operated or maintained by the federal, provincial or a municipal government or any of their agencies
  • Are owned by a person holding federal or provincial office or a provincial employee

Click here to review the full eligibility criteria and application requirements.

Click here to access the grant application portal.

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.

Employment & Legal Assistance

Government has made available a number of easy to use resources to help employers, employees, and self-employed individuals access employment and legal related services. As operating requirements continue to evolve, it remains important for all employers to ensure they are aware of their obligations to their employees under various legislation. See below for a list of resources for guidance.

The Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) sets out minimum standards of employment for most employees in Ontario workplaces. It does not prohibit employers from requiring employees to stay at home due to potential public health risks, like COVID-19 (coronavirus).

Generally, an employer is not required under the ESA to pay an employee wages if the employee has not worked. Some employees may have additional rights under:

  • an employment contract (including a collective agreement)
  • the common law
  • other legislation

Employees may be entitled to employment insurance benefits or other federal government financial supports.

On March 16th, 2020 the Province of Ontario announced legislation which provides job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures. The legislation ensures that an employee will not be required to provide a medical note if they take the leave. The measures would be retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.

What this means for businesses:

  • Employees will have the right to job-protected leave for COVID-19 quarantine or isolation purposes, or to care for children.
  • Employees will not have to provide a medical note for COVID-19 leave.
  • Job protection for COVID-19 leave will be in effect from January 25th, 2020 onwards.

Details below:

The Government of Ontario has recently amended the Ontario Employment Standards Act, 2000 (“ESA”) to provide an additional job-protected, unpaid leave of absence (Infectious Disease Emergency Leave) if an employee will not be performing the duties of his or her position because of various reasons related to a designated infectious disease. Those reasons include:

  1. that the employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment;
  2. that the employee is subject to an order of a medical officer of health or a court under the Health Protection and Promotion Act;
  3. that the employee is in quarantine or isolation undertaken because of information or direction of a public health official, qualified health practitioner, Telehealth Ontario, the governments of Ontario or Canada, a municipal council or a board of health;
  4. that an employer directs the employee to stay at home because of concerns that the employee might expose others in the workplace to the designated infectious disease;
  5. that the employee is providing care to a specified individual; or,
  6. that the employee is affected by travel restrictions preventing them, the employee, from returning to Ontario.

Click here for more information on COVID-19 and employment standards protections.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they are sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). 

If you are eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period. 

If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021. 

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

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). 

If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period. 

If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

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

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. This applies if their school, regular program or facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19, or because they are sick, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health complications due to COVID-19. The CRCB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

If you are eligible for the CRCB, your household can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period.

If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 26 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

Click here to apply now.

The Federal government announced changes to Employment Insurance, in light of recent events. Service Canada will support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:

  • Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and is available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Canadians quarantined can apply for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits.
  • People claiming EI sickness benefits due to quarantine will not have to provide a medical certificate
  • 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.
  • Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support inquiries related to waiving the EI sickness benefits waiting period.
  • Priority EI application processing for EI sickness claims for clients under quarantine.
  • 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