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.
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.
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
Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, and the Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, the Honourable Mary Ng, announced that the new Canada Recovery Hiring Program, once approved by parliament in Bill C-30, will be available retroactively to this Sunday, June 6, 2021.
The Canada Recovery Hiring Program will help hard hit businesses hire the workers they need to recover and grow, and to do so at a pace that works for them, as different jurisdictions open at different paces. It provides eligible employers who have experienced a qualifying revenue decline with a subsidy of up to 50 per cent of eligible salary or wages so they can hire more workers, increase workers’ hours, or increase wages.
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
Businesses are not eligible for this grant if they:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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.
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.
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.
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:
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: