Business Supports

COVID-19 has put a tremendous strain on our local businesses, not-for-profits and nonprofits. On this page, we have outlined supports available. 


 

Get COVID-19 Relief Funding for Your Business

Ontario is helping businesses recover costs for personal protective equipment and providing extra support for businesses required to close or significantly restrict services as a result of provincial public health measures. More information on the programs available is below.

For more information on applying for funding, watch the explainer video below:

Apply for funding now


 

Ontario Small Business Support Grant

Applications are now open for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which helps small businesses that are required to close or significantly restrict services under the new Provincewide Shutdown effective December 26, 2020.

With this new one-time grant, small businesses will be able to recover some of their expected lost revenue, starting at $10,000 and up to a maximum of $20,000.


 

Property Tax & Energy Bill Rebates

Businesses that are, or were, required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures can apply for rebates to help with fixed costs, such as PPE, property tax and energy bills. Find out if your business is eligible.

Affordable Electricity Bills 

As of 12:00 a.m. on January 1, 2021, customers who pay time-of-use or tiered electricity rates, including households, farms and small businesses, will be charged the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents/kWh, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

This temporary emergency rate relief will be in effect for 28 days to support households and businesses impacted by COVID-19covid 19 public health restrictions. Customers will automatically see this lower rate applied to their bills.

COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business 

We are providing $8 million to support small businesses and charitable organizations who are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19covid 19.

Starting in January 2021, available credit amounts will increase and more businesses will be eligible to access funding. Customers may be eligible for up to $1500 in support towards their electricity and natural gas bills.

Contact your electricity and/or natural gas utility to apply.


 

Funding For PPE Costs

We are helping small businesses with the unexpected costs of PPE. To be eligible, your business must have two to nineteen employees and be in one of the following sectors:

  • retail
  • accommodation and food services
  • repair and maintenance
  • personal and laundry services
  • gyms and yoga studios
  • arts, entertainment and recreation

Eligible small businesses will get one-time grants of up to $1,000. You can apply here.


 

Digital Main Street

Digital Main Street is a digital “how to” guide and program to help you grow your business. The program is now supported as part of a partnership between the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario.

  • ShopHERE: a program that provides independent small businesses and artists with a quick, easy and no-cost way to get selling online right away. 
  • Ontario Grants Program: providing main street businesses with $2,500 Digital Transformation Grants, and municipalities / local communities with grants to implement a Digital Service Squad.
  • The Future Proof Main Street program delivered in partnership with Communitech and Invest Ottawa helps businesses identify new markets, pivot their business model, and develop and implement a deep digital transformation plan.

 

The Ontario Trillium Foundation 

The Ontario Trillium Foundation (OTF) is an agency of the Government of Ontario, and one of Canada’s leading granting foundations. The OTF provides grants for the non-profit sector. The OTF awarded $108 million to 629 projects last year to build healthy and vibrant communities in Ontario.


  

The Ontario Arts Council

The Ontario Arts Council (OAC) provides grants to Ontario-based individual artists and arts professionals, ad hoc groups/collectives and organizations. Grants support a range of arts activities and disciplines. The OAC offers two types of grant programs: 
  • Project grants – one-time grants for specific projects, available to individual artists, ad hoc groups/collectives and organizations
  • Operating grants – ongoing support for Ontario-based, not-for-profit arts organizations and for-profit book and magazine publishers 

 

Pausing Commercial Evictions 

We are temporarily stopping or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19covid 19. This applies to businesses that were eligible for the previous Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses program or who have been approved for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS).


 

Pension Contribution Deferral and Extension 

Deferring contributions

If you're an employer who sponsors certain defined benefit pension plans, you can defer pension contributions due between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. You must file an application (called an "election") and pay deferred contributions, with interest and following a set schedule, by March 31, 2022. For contributions to be eligible for deferral, plans must:

  • be single-employer, private-sector defined benefit pension plans
  • not already benefit from existing special relief measures

You can only defer contributions if they are up to date with any existing contribution requirements. To ensure you use the funds made available by deferring contributions to maintain your business operations, you will be restricted from:

  • paying out dividends or buying back shares
  • increasing previously established debt repayments
  • increasing executive compensation or paying executive bonuses
  • making loans or advances to shareholders or executives or entities related to them
  • engaging in business that provides advantageous terms to a related party, such as a parent company

These restrictions will no longer apply after you've made all deferred contributions.

Catch-up contribution extension

As in any year, you may be required to make a catch-up contribution after a valuation report is filed for your pension plan, depending on how much was contributed to the plan before the report was filed. You have 120 days (instead of the usual 60 days) to pay any catch-up contributions on valuation reports filed on or before April 1, 2020. You do not need to submit an election (application) to get the extension. 

Find out more information on pension contribution deferrals, restrictions and how to apply.


 

Tax Relief 

We permanently increased the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption from $490,000 to $1 million. Along with doubling the exemption, we doubled the instalment threshold from $600,000 to $1.2 million starting with the 2021 tax year.

What this means for you

As an employer, this means relief of up to $9,945 per year. The annual tax return form is not changing. Only the amount that you enter for the exemption claimed will change. Eligibility for the tax exemption and tax rates remain the same. Starting in 2021, all employers will begin remitting monthly instalments when their annual payroll exceeds $1.2 million. If your business no longer needs to make instalment payments or file an EHT return as a result of the increased exemption amount or instalment threshold, you do not need to notify the Ministry of Finance.

Learn more about the EHT changes for 2021.


 

For more info about Ontario Government programs and available supports for your business visitCOVID-19: Help for businesses in Ontario

 

 

Federal Supports


 

Canada Emergency Business Account

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free, partially forgivable, loans of up to $60,000, to small businesses and not-for-profits, that have experienced diminished revenues due to COVID-19 but face ongoing non-deferrable costs, such as rent, utilities, insurance, taxes and wages. We have recently expanded CEBA to include an additional interest-free $20,000 loan, 50% of which would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. This means the additional loan effectively increases CEBA loans from the existing $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 will be forgiven if the balance of the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022.

Business owners can apply for support until March 31, 2021 through their banks and credit unions.


 

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) provides a direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage subsidy of up to 65% of eligible expenses to qualifying businesses, charities and non-profits. The subsidy rates are in effect until December 19, 2020. This support is available directly to tenants.

Lockdown Support

Qualifying organizations that have been significantly restricted by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority can receive an additional 25% of rent support through the Lockdown Support. The combined effect of the rent subsidy and the Lockdown Support is that hard-hit businesses, non-profits and charities subject to a lockdown can receive rent support of up to 90%. The rent subsidy and the Lockdown Support are available until June 2021.


 

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), the federal government is covering up to 75% of an employee’s wages for qualifying eligible employers, with this subsidy rate in effect until March 13, 2021. The wage subsidy supports you to keep and re-hire your employees and avoid layoffs.


 

For more info about Federal Government programs and available supports for your business visitResources for businesses and self-employed individuals

 

Mental Health and Addictions Support

If you or your employees are feeling anxious, experiencing other mental health or addiction challenges or you can’t access your regular in-person counselling support, there are services you can access online or by phone, including self-led support, peer support and internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy.

For help connecting with the right public mental health and addictions program or support across Ontario, contact ConnexOntario - available 24/7: