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

As an employer in Canada who continues to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible to apply for a subsidy to cover part of your wages as you hire new employees and increase existing employees’ wages or hours.

Each claim period, eligible employers can claim either the higher of the CRHP, or the wage portion of:

Before October 24, 2021, eligible employers could claim either the CRHP or the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS). 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. 

The federal government has proposed to extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program until May 7, 2022, for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10 per cent and increase the subsidy rate to 50 per cent. The extension would help businesses continue to hire back workers and to create the additional jobs Canada needs for a full recovery.

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

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

Eligible businesses that are part of the list below which were subject to closures as a result of the province’s move to the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen can receive a grant of $10,000.

The application portal will be open from February 9 to March 11 for applications from:

  • Newly established businesses;
  • Businesses that may not have previously applied to the Ontario Small Business Support Grant in 2021;
  • Businesses that were previously deemed ineligible but are now eligible.

In order to be eligible, applicants will need to confirm that they:

  • Had fewer than 100 employees as of December 31, 2021;
  • Were an active business as of January 14, 2022;
  • Were required to close indoor operations on January 5, 2022.

Eligible small businesses for the OSBRG include:

  • Restaurants and bars;
  • Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms);
  • Racing venues, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments;
  • Performing arts venues and cinemas;
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
  • Meeting or event spaces;
  • Tour and guide services;
  • Conference centres and convention centres;
  • Driving instruction for individuals;
  • Before- and after-school programs.

The OSBRG User Application Guide provides additional information about applying for the grant. The Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade emailed eligible businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant in 2021, and were subject to closure again on January 5, 2022, as they have been pre-screened and do not need to apply for the OSBRG. But they may be asked to confirm their continued eligibility.

For more information on available business supports, click here.

If you need help, provincial call centres are open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding government and statutory holidays. The call centres are closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Toll-free: 1-855-216-3090
TTY: 416-325-3408
Toll-free TTY: 1-800-268-7095

The Ontario government is introducing new supports for many of the businesses that are most impacted by public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

This includes a new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program that will provide eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for up to 100 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

Online applications for the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will open on January 18.

Eligible businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. Those required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs. A complete list of eligible businesses will be provided prior to the launch of the application portal.

 The Ontario government is also providing electricity-rate relief to support small businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home while the province is in Modified Step Two. For 21 days starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, electricity prices will be set 24 hours a day at the current off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate. The off-peak rate will apply automatically to residential, small businesses and farms who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board and get a bill from a utility and will benefit customers on both Time-of-Use and Tiered rate plans.

Additionally, the province providing a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. With this help, approximately 80,000 businesses will have the option to delay their payments for the following provincially administered taxes:

  • Employer Health Tax
  • Beer, Wine & Spirits Taxes
  • Tobacco Tax
  • Insurance Premium Tax
  • Fuel Tax
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Gas Tax
  • Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts & Benefit Plans
  • Mining Tax
  • Race Tracks Tax

The six-month period will begin January 1, 2022 and end July 1, 2022.

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 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 March 31, 2022.

More information is available at bdc.ca/hascap.

As a business, charity, or non-profit in Canada who has faced deep losses due to the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a wage subsidy, a rent subsidy, or both through the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program (HHBRP).

Eligible organizations, regardless of their sector, may qualify for the HHBRP if they don’t qualify for the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP).

To qualify for the HHBRP, you must meet the following two conditions:

There are other ways to qualify for wage or rent subsidies if you’ve been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, even if you do not qualify for the HHBRP. If you’re not sure which subsidy may fit your situation:

 

 

Through the HHBRP, you may be able to get a subsidy to help cover wages (formerly the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) and rent (formerly the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy). 

You may also qualify for the Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP).

As a business, charity, or non-profit in Canada who has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a wage subsidy, a rent subsidy, or both through the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP).

You may qualify if you are either:

  • part of the tourism, hospitality, arts, entertainment, or recreation sectors, or
  • affected by a qualifying public health restriction

There are two ways eligible organizations can qualify for the THRP:

 

Tourism, hospitality, arts, entertainment, and recreation sectors: Option 1 of 2

The first way to qualify for the THRP is by meeting the following three conditions:

Find out if your activities are considered part of tourism, hospitality, arts, entertainment, or recreation

 

Organizations affected by a qualifying public health restriction: Option 2 of 2

The second way to qualify for the THRP was introduced as the Local Lockdown Program. It is available to eligible organizations, regardless of sector.

To qualify for the THRP this way, you must meet following two conditions:

There are other ways to qualify for wage or rent subsidies if you’ve been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, even if you do not qualify for the THRP. If you’re not sure which subsidy may fit your situation:

Answer a few questions to see what you may qualify for.

Through the THRP, whether you are considered a qualifying tourism or hospitality entity or you were subject to a qualifying public health restriction, you may be able to get a subsidy to help cover wages (formerly the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) and rent (formerly the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy).

You may also qualify for the Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP).

These programs will be available until May 7, 2022, with the proposed subsidy rates available through to March 13, 2022. From March 13, 2022, to May 7, 2022, the subsidy rates will decrease by half.

The Local Lockdown Program is a way businesses, charities, and non-profits affected by a qualifying public health restriction can be eligible for wage and rent support through the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP).

You do not have to be in the tourism, hospitality, arts, entertainment, or recreation sectors to be eligible for this support.

Find the details under the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP).

The Tourism Relief Fund, administered by Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs) and Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED), supports tourism businesses and organizations to adapt their operations to meet public health requirements while investing in products and services to facilitate their future growth.

With a budget of $500 million over two years (ending March 31, 2023), including $50 million specifically dedicated to Indigenous tourism initiatives and $15 million for national initiatives, this fund will position Canada to be a destination of choice when domestic and international travel is once again safe by:

  • empowering tourism businesses to create new or enhance existing tourism experiences and products to attract more local and domestic visitors
  • helping the sector reposition itself to welcome international visitors by providing the best Canadian tourism experiences we have to offer the world

Tourism Relief Fund projects will focus on:

  • product development: for example, projects that enhance tourism experiences; help tourism businesses adapt to the “new normal”, to modernize their offerings; and, encourage the adoption of more environmentally sustainable and inclusive practices
  • destination development: for example, projects that position communities to take advantage of post-pandemic opportunities through strategic planning for medium- to long-term investments, as well as supporting destination development prospects in line with objectives set out in the Federal Tourism Growth Strategy

Recognizing local realities, the RDAs will work to address the needs of businesses and communities on a regional basis, offering consistent support across Canada in this critical time.

For more details on the eligibility criteria, please consult the Application guide.

Major festivals and events are key levers of economic activity in communities across the country. They attract international tourists, position Canada and its regions as destinations of choice, encourage investment in Canadian tourism assets and create jobs.

The Major Festivals and Events Support Initiative supports major Canadian festivals and events that have been hit hard by the economic impacts of COVID-19 to adapt and enhance their activities as the economy recovers. With a national budget of $200 million over two years, the Initiative will ensure continued operations and maintain local jobs in surrounding communities.

This initiative complements the $200-million investment that will be delivered by Canadian Heritage to support local festivals and community cultural events, outdoor theatre performances, heritage celebrations, local museums, amateur sport events and more.

For more information on this initiative, contact FedDev Ontario.

 

The Jobs and Growth Fund provides funding to businesses and organizations to help create jobs and position local economies for long-term growth. The fund, delivered by Canada’s regional development agencies (RDAs), provides $700 million nationally over three years, which includes up to $70 million dedicated to businesses created after January 2020 that meet eligibility criteria.

In southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario is investing $224 million to help job creators and the organizations that support them to future-proof their businesses, build resiliency and prepare for growth by transitioning to a green economy, fostering an inclusive recovery, enhancing competitiveness, and creating jobs in every corner of the country.

Eligible activities include:

Activities that support the transition to a green economy, including those that:

  • support the development and adoption of clean technology
  • help communities and businesses plan and drive clean, sustainable economic growth
  • partner with organizations to catalyze the development of green regional clusters
  • work with organizations supporting businesses to transition to a green economy

 Activities that foster an inclusive recovery, including those that:

  • support businesses owned or majority-led by underrepresented groups, such as Indigenous peoples, members of racialized communities, women, youth, LGBTQ2, persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, and members of official language minority communities
  • increase the participation of underrepresented groups in the economy by supporting not-for-profit organizations that provide funding, business services, training and access to resources to build a more inclusive and equitable workforce

 Activities that preserve Canada’s competitiveness and future-proof SMEs through digital adoption, including those that:

  • support the development or adoption of digital and technological solutions (i.e., Industry 4.0 solutions) to increase and promote business productivity
  • invest in technologies that help scale businesses, enhance their capabilities and increase resilience

 Activities that strengthen capacity in sectors critical to Canada’s recovery and growth, including those that:

  • support scale-up and market expansion activities that bolster traditional areas of strength
  • develop emerging areas of global competitive advantage
  • support supply chain adaptation and diversification opportunities to build Canadian capacity in critical sectors such as food production, medical supplies and biomanufacturing

Eligible businesses could receive interest-free repayable contributions for up to 50% of eligible costs and eligible not-for profit organizations could receive non-repayable contributions for up to 90% of eligible costs.

Applications will be accepted on a continuous intake basis until such time as the funding is fully allocated. Start the application process by using the Applicant checklist.

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.

On April 29, 2021, the Ontario Government amended the Employment Standards Act, 2000 (ESA) to require employers to provide employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave because of certain reasons related to COVID-19. This entitlement is in addition to employees’ rights to unpaid infectious disease emergency leave.

Paid infectious disease emergency leave is available for certain reasons related to COVID-19, including:

  • going for a COVID-19 test
  • staying home awaiting the results of a COVID-19 test
  • being sick with COVID-19
  • getting individual medical treatment for mental health reasons related to COVID-19
  • going to get vaccinated
  • experiencing a side effect from a COVID-19 vaccination
  • having been advised to self-isolate due to COVID-19 by an employer, medical practitioner or other specified authority
  • providing care or support to certain relatives for COVID-19 related reasons, such as when they are:
    • sick with COVID-19 or have symptoms of COVID-19
    • self-isolating due to COVID-19 on the advice of a medical practitioner or other specified authority
    • providing care or support to their child who is getting vaccinated against COVID-19 or is experiencing side effects from the vaccine

 Employers are generally required to pay employees the wages they would have earned had they not taken the leave, up to $200 a day for up to three days.

For more information visit the infectious disease emergency leave chapter in Your Guide to the ESA or call the Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit Information Centre 1-888-999-2248 (TTY: 1-866-567-8893).

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, you will need to apply again. You may apply for up to a total of 4 weeks between September 27, 2020 and November 20, 2021.

To ensure that workers continue to have support and that no one is left behind, the government proposes to extend the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit until May 7, 2022, and increase the maximum duration of benefits by 2 weeks. This would extend the caregiving benefit from 42 to 44 weeks and the sickness benefit from 4 to 6 weeks.

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, you will need to apply again. Each household may apply for up to a total of 42 weeks between September 27, 2020 and November 20, 2021.

To ensure that workers continue to have support and that no one is left behind, the government proposes to extend the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit until May 7, 2022, and increase the maximum duration of benefits by 2 weeks. This would extend the caregiving benefit from 42 to 44 weeks and the sickness benefit from 4 to 6 weeks.

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

To ensure that workers continue to have support and that no one is left behind, the government proposes to establish the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit which would provide $300 a week in income support to eligible workers should they be unable to work due to a local lockdown anytime between October 24, 2021 and May 7, 2022.

In addition, the Federal Government has expanded the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit to include workers in regions where provincial or territorial governments have introduced capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more. As announced previously, this benefit will provide $300 a week in income support to eligible workers who are directly affected by a COVID-19-related public health lockdown, and who have lost 50 per cent or more of their income as a result.

These updated regulations will apply from December 19, 2021, to February 12, 2022, during which time it is expected that public health authorities will continue to implement “circuit-breaker” restrictions that limit the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 across Canada.