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Think you have COVID-19 symptoms?

Do not visit an assessment centre unless you have been referred by a health care professional.

Do not call 911 unless it is an emergency. Use this self-assessment to help determine how to seek further care.

Ensuring businesses have access to supports during COVID-19 and beyond is a priority of mine as your Member of Provincial Parliament. While information changes daily and some of the final details of programs still to be communicated, I hope this list below is helpful to you. We will continue to update information as it is announced.

A Framework for Reopening Our Province:

Ontario took a regional approach to reopening, with regions that demonstrated readiness based on trends in key public health indicators reopening first. The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health measures or restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

Visit our website to review the framework and other important information on our response to COVID-19

SUPPORTING BUSINESSES AND EMPLOYEES

Canada Emergency WAGE SUBSIDY (CEWS):

APPLICATIONS FOR CEWS ARE NOW OPEN

Covering 75% of employees’ wages on the first $58,700 earned, for qualifying businesses and organizations. This subsidy will be retroactive to March 15, 2020 and will apply for 3 months.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will be extended until August 29, 2020

Businesses now have more flexibility in terms of which monthly figures they compare to.

  • One option is the change in an eligible employer’s monthly revenues, year-over-year, for the calendar month in which the period began. For example, comparing March 2020 to March 2019.
  • The second option is to compare revenue using an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020.

Employers can select either approach when first applying to the CEWS but are required to use the same approach for the duration of the program.

There are 3 periods of eligibility, and the first one is March 15 to April 11. For this first period, the required reduction in revenue is now 15%, and for subsequent periods is 30%. 

Once an employer is found eligible for a specific period, the employer automatically qualifies for the next period.

Other Details:

  • Maximum benefit of $847 per employee/week.
  • Employers are encouraged to contribute the other 25% of employees’ wages if they are able.

APPLICATIONS ARE NOW OPEN: Eligible employers can apply through their Canada Revenue Agency ‘My Business’ account or through a separate online portal. Please contact the CRA’s business telephone line, 1-800-959-5525 if you require assistance.

Employers will receive money from the program beginning May 7, through direct deposit. Companies who have not signed up for direct deposit with the CRA may have to wait longer for money to arrive. 

To help determine the required figures for your applications, as well as estimate the amount of your business’ wage subsidy, please visit the CRA’s wage subsidy calculator.

TEMPORARY BUSINESS WAGE SUBSIDY:

Employers who are not eligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may be eligible for this program.

  • Eligible employers will receive a subsidy equal to 10% of wages, for the period from March 18 to before June 20, 2020.
  • Maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

Employers will continue deducting income tax, Canada Pension Plan (CPP) contributions, and Employment Insurance (EI) premiums from salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration paid to employees.

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.

WORK-SHARING
PROGRAM

Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, and not limited to one specific sector or industry, the Government of Canada is introducing temporary special measures to the Work-Sharing Program:

  • Extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.
  • Mandatory cooling off period has been waived for employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program so that eligible employers may immediately enter into a new agreement.
  • Reduce the previous requirements for a Recovery Plan to a single line of text in the application form.
  • Reduce the requirement and expand eligibility to employers affected by accepting business who have been in business for only 1 year rather than 2, and eliminate the burden of having to provide sales/production figures at the same time.
  • Expand eligibility for staff who are essential to recovery, Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) and non-for-profit organization employers.

ONTARIO-CANADA EMERGENCY COMMERCIAL RENT ASSISTANCE:

The Government of Ontario is partnering with the Government of Canada to provide more than $900 million of urgent relief for small businesses and landlords affected by the COVID-19 outbreak through the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA). This program will lower rental costs for eligible small business tenants by 75% for April, May, and June 2020. 

The provincial and federal governments will provide forgivable loans equivalent to 50% of the payable rent to eligible property owners. Of the remaining rental cost, 25% will be covered by the tenant and 25% will be covered by the landlord.

To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75%. The loan would also be contingent on the signing of a rent forgiveness agreement between impacted tenants and landlords, which would include a moratorium on evictions for three months.

The OCECRA will be administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and will be available until September 30, 2020. Support will be retroactive to April 1, covering April, May and June 2020.

An eligible small business tenant is one that:

  • Pays monthly rent not exceeding $50,000 in gross rent payments; and is,

     

  • A non-essential small business that has temporarily closed, or who is experiencing a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues (determined by comparing revenues in April, May or June to the same month in 2019 or alternatively compared to average revenues for January and February 2020). 

Not-for-profit organizations and charitable entities will also be considered for the program.

UPDATE (May 20, 2020): OCECRA will open for applications on May 25, 2020.

Eligible property owners in Ontario with up to 10 tenants can register on Tuesdays. All other eligible property owners in Ontario can register on Wednesdays, and all property owners across Canada can register on Fridays.

Support for Industrial and Commercial Electricity Consumers:

The Government of Ontario is deferring a portion of Global Adjustment (GA) charges for industrial and commercial electricity consumers that do not participate in the Regulated Price Plan (RPP), starting from April 2020. The government intends to keep this relief in place until June 2020, subject to necessary extensions and approvals to implement this initiative. Without this action, a small industrial or commercial consumer could have seen bills increase by 15 per cent or more.

CANADA EMERGENCY RESPONSE BENEFIT (CERB):

CERB is a benefit of up to $2,000 per month for up to 4 months. You’re eligible if you are:

  • Self-employed;
  • Sick, or directed to quarantine/self-isolate, but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits;
  • Taking care of a family member with COVID-19
  • EI-eligible or non EI-eligible working parent who must stay at home without pay because of children who are sick or who need additional care because of school closures.
  • People making $1000 or less per month
  • Seasonal workers
  • Those who have exhausted their EI Benefits since January 1st, 2020  

Online portal is now open. Sign up for MY ACCOUNT through the CRA website – enter required information for direct deposit. This will speed up your application process.

Application dates are split up by birth-months as outlined below:

  • January – March: APPLY ON MONDAYS
  • April – June: APPLY ON TUESDAYS
  • July-September: APPLY ON WEDNESDAY
  • October-December: APPLY ON THURSDAY
  • ANYONE CAN APPLY ON FRIDAYS, SATURDAY AND SUNDAYS

You can apply for the CERB through either Service Canada or the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), not both.

The Benefit is available for the period from March 15, 2020 to October 3, 2020.

SUPPORT FOR FARMERS

The Government of Canada will invest more than $250 million through a series of new programs to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors. This includes:

  • Launching a national AgriRecovery initiative of up to $125 million in funding to help producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19.
  • Creating a $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund to help food producers adapt to changing health protocols, procure PPE, and respond to emerging pressures from COVID-19.
  • Launching a Surplus Food Purchase Program with an initial $50 million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.

ONTARIO
TOGETHER

The Government of Ontario has launched a new website intended to harness the resources and innovation of Ontario’s business community to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new $50 million Ontario Together Fund will support the development of essential equipment and supplies.

  • Please click the button above if your business or organization can provide medical products such as ventilators, swabs, masks, and eye protection, or to submit any other ideas, products, or services that could help Ontarians.

  • If you need any help making an online submission, please call 1-888-777-0554.

  • Once you submit you will get a reference number – please contact my office with this reference number and we will assist you. 

temporary rule or regulation change:

The Government of Ontario has launched a website inviting businesses to submit suggestions which could help them overcome the unique challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The province is prepared to allow temporary changes to provincial rules and regulations in order to remove any barriers that are hindering business and negatively impacting Ontario’s supply chain. Businesses working to retool their operations to produce health-related products, or those that want to continue their operations in this new environment of physical distancing, can submit any potential roadblocks they are facing to the website.

Business Resilience Service:

The Government of Canada has partnered with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, EY and Imagine Canada to launch the Business Resilience Service (BRS). The BRS will provide options for any vulnerable small to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms.

The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will provide guidance on program options and eligibility, direct businesses to appropriate support organizations, assist organizational decision-making to support recovery plans, and provide feedback to policymakers.

The BRS program, coordinated by EY, begins on May 25 and will be provided for four weeks. Organizations can access the BRS seven days a week by calling 1-866-989-1080.

Workplace Safety Toolkit:

The Government of Ontario has released a first-of-its-kind general workplace guidance document to help all employers protect workers from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.

This new guidance includes help on how to create a safety plan, including specific advice on personal protective equipment and the use of face masks. It also includes a list of controls, from most important to least important, that employers can take to minimize the spread of the virus.

TAX DEFERRALS

INCOME TAX DEFERRALS

Providing flexibility to businesses who may find it challenging to meet their tax obligations.

  • The Federal Government has allowed taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

DEFERRALS FOR PROVINCIALLY ADMINISTERED TAXES:

The Government of Ontario has made the period between April 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020 interest and penalty-free for businesses who are unable to file and make payments on time for the majority of provincially administered taxes.

  • This is expected to free up as much as $6 billion in cash flow for approximately 100,000 businesses.

  • This measure would complement the federal government’s March 18, 2020 announcement that it would provide relief from interest and penalties from not remitting Corporate Income Tax owing.

HST DEFERRALS:

Deferring HST payments for small and medium-sized businesses until the end of June, freeing up an additional $30 billion for businesses.

EDUCATION PROPERTY TAX DEFERRALS:

The Government of Ontario is providing municipalities with the option to defer the education property tax payment they make to school boards for 90 days. Reach out to your local municipality to make sure they are taking advantage of this. 

  • This would defer the June 30th quarterly municipal remittance to school boards which provides municipalities with the flexibility, in turn, to provide over $1.8 billion in property tax deferral to residents and businesses.

TAX CUTS AND CREDITS

EMPLOYER
HEALTH TAX:

Doubling the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption in 2020.

  • Through this change, about 57,000 private-sector employers would pay less EHT in 2020, including about 30,000 more who would not pay EHT this year.

  • This amounts to a tax cut of $355 million.

REGIONAL OPPORTUNITIES INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT:

Taking aim at regional economic disparities through the launch of a proposed new Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit.

  • Available to eligible businesses that build, renovate or acquire qualifying commercial and industrial buildings in designated regions of the province, saving them up to $45,000.

REDUCING COSTS FOR BUSINESSES

WORKPLACE SAFETY EXPENSES:

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) is allowing employers to defer premium payments for up to six months, providing immediate relief of up to $1.9 billion.

  • All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial relief package.

  • No interest will be accrued on outstanding premium payments and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period.

REDUCED ELECTRICTY COSTS:

Ontario is introducing a fixed, flat “COVID-19 Recovery Rate” for residential, farm and small business electricity consumers. This new rate of 12.8 cents per kWh will apply from June 1 to October 31, 2020.

Ontario is also investing $8 million in the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business to support those struggling to pay their electricity bills.

LOANS AND CREDIT SUPPORT

BUSINESS CREDIT AVAILABILITY PROGRAM (BCAP):

The Government of Canada has established the BCAP to provide $65 billion of additional support to businesses through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).

The BCAP will be expanded to include mid-sized companies with larger financing needs. Support for mid-market businesses will include loans of up to $60 million per company.

The Business Credit Availability Programs includes the below:

CANADA EMERGENCY BUSINESS ACCOUNT (CEBA):

Canadian banks will provide loans of up to $40,000, backed by the federal government, to small and medium sized businesses and not-for-profits.

If repaid by December 31, 2022, 25% of the loan will be forgiven, or up to $10,000. If not repaid by this date, the remaining balance will be converted to a three-year term loan at 5 per cent interest.   

To be eligible, organizations and businesses will need to demonstrate that they paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019.

UPDATE (May 19, 2020): The eligibility criteria will be expanded to include many owner-operated small businesses. Under these new criteria, businesses with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:

  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.


UPDATE (June 15, 2020):
The eligibility criteria has been expanded to include many owner-operated small businesses. Under these new criteria, businesses with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:

  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.

    Applications for those eligible under these new criteria will open on Friday June 19, 2020.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF):

The Government of Canada will establish the LEEFF to provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers who are not able to meet their needs through conventional financing. This will allow Canada’s largest businesses and their suppliers to remain active during this difficult time, and position them for a rapid economic recovery. Companies applying for financing through LEEFF must satisfy a number of rules and requirements.  

UPDATE (May 20, 2020): Applications for LEEFF are now open.

LOAN GUARANTEE FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES:

  • Up to $6.25 million for payroll and operational costs.
  • 80% guaranteed by EDC, to be repaid within one year.

CO-LENDING PROGRAM FOR SMALL AND MEDIUM-SIZED ENTERPRISES:

  • Access to credit of up to $6.25 million for your operational cash flow requirements, with differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues.
  • 80% of financed amount provided by BDC and the remaining 20% by your financial institution.
  • Available until or before September 30, 2020.

Financial institutions will progressively roll out program details as of April 24, 2020. Please contact your primary financial institution to find out more.

BANK OF CANADA INTEREST RATE REDUCTION:

On March 27th, the Bank of Canada lowered interest rates to 0.25%, down from 0.75% announced on March 13.

 

Farm Credit Canada (FCC) COVID-19 Support Program:

Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has put in place:

  • a deferral of principal and interest payments up to six months for existing loans; or
  • a deferral of principal payments up to 12 months
  • access to an additional credit line up to $500,000, secured by general security agreements or universal movable hypothec (Québec only)

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF):

The RRRF seeks to support southern Ontario Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to address gaps in or supplement other federal relief measures, as well as complement those provided by other levels of government.

In particular, the RRRF aims to provide support to southern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been rejected from, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures.

$213 million has been allocated to support SMEs in Southern Ontario, and almost $40 million will be made available specifically for businesses in rural communities, with a particular focus on “main street” businesses.

LENDING LOOP SMALL BUSINESS FINANCING:

Lending Loop has implemented a temporary hardship program for borrowers that are currently distressed as a result of impacts of COVID-19. This program will allow Lending Loop clients that meet certain criteria to make interest-only payments on their loans for a period of 3 months to accommodate this unexpected event

FACEBOOK SMALL BUSINESS GRANTS PROGRAM:

Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and credits to help small businesses during this challenging time.

ESSENTIAL INFORMATION

CLOSURE OF
NON-ESSENTIAL WORKPLACES

The Government of Ontario has ordered the mandatory closure of all non-essential workplaces in Ontario to slow the spread of COVID-19, as recommended by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health.

  • The order will last until May 1st, 2020, and may be extended.

  • Designated non-essential businesses are encouraged to find ways to help their employees work from home, if possible.
  • If you have questions about what will be open, or the impacts this emergency order may have on your business, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659. This line is open 7 days a week from 8:30am to 5pm.

OTHER INFORMATION:

For resources on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace, consult the Government of Canada’s website.

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES

Support for Tourism:

The Government of Canada is providing $30 million in FedDev Ontario RRRF funding to the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO). This will provide financial relief to destination marketing organizations (DMOs) across southern Ontario that have experienced significant revenue shortfalls.

Applications can be submitted online starting June 5. For more information on how to apply, visit www.tiaontario.ca

Resources to Prevent COVID-19 in the Workplace:

The Government of Ontario has released safety guidelines to provide direction to those working in a variety of industries, including manufacturing, food manufacturing and processing, restaurant and food service, and the agricultural sector, among others. These new sector-specific guidelines feature recommended actions employers can begin to plan for as they prepare to adapt to the new reality during COVID-19.

Workplace PPE Supplier Directory:

The Government of Ontario has launched the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory at ontario.ca/PPE, containing an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

Businesses are encouraged to access only the PPE they need to keep their employees and customers safe.

DIGITAL
MAINSTREET:

Digital Main Street is a non-profit organization which helps small businesses connect with digital technologies, tools and service providers. These digital resources may be essential to the success of your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Digital Main Street can assist you with a wide range of tools and services, including e-commerce platforms, websites, social media, and much more.

They offer an online learning platform, digital resources and workshops, and a Digital Service Squad who will work with your business one-on-one to help meet your digital needs. 

There is no cost to join Digital Main Street, and all businesses can receive a free Digital Assessment.

Digital Main Street is supported by companies well versed in digital technologies, including Google, MasterCard, Microsoft and Shopify.

DISTANTLY:

Distantly is an online donation platform that allows people to make direct donations to small businesses in their community, helping cover overhead costs until businesses can re-open.

Overview of the Ontario Action Plan

Government of Ontario’s  Economic and Fiscal Update

Government of Canada’s Economic Response to COVID-19

COVID-19 Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit for Ontario Businesses, produced by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce

Pandemic Preparedness for Business toolkit from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce

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