COVID - 19 Supports for Small Businesses

Support for Businesses (FEDERAL, PROVINCIAL & MUNICIPAL)
Up-to-Date as of October 26th, 2020

For more information call 416-234-2800 or e-mail [email protected]

Ontario Government

Affordable Electricity Bills

Until October 31, 2020 time-of-use Regulated Price Plan customers will pay a COVID-19covid 19 Recovery Rate of 12.8¢/kWh 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

From March 24 to May 31, 2020, residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers were charged the lowest rate — also known as the off-peak price — 24 hours a day. This means you were charged 10.1¢/kWh no matter what time of day you use electricity. 

This rate has automatically been applied to your bill.

Pausing Commercial Evictions

Temporarily stopping or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. This applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance, for evictions from May 1, 2020.

It does not apply to those participating in CECRA for small businesses.

Deferring Pension Contributions

If you're an employer who sponsers 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 Pension 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.

To learn more, please click here:

Employer Health Tax Relief

Increased the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million.

As an employer, this means relief of up to $9,945.

The annual tax return form is not changing. Only the amount for the exemption claimed will change. Eligibility for the tax exemption, tax rates and everything else remains the same.

You will begin making your instalment payments after your payroll has exceeded the new $1 million exemption level.

If your business no longer needs to make instalment payments as a result of the increased exemption amount, you do not need to notify the Ministry of Finance.

If you have already filed a final or special return for 2020, the Ministry will be reviewing all 2020 Employer Health Tax relief returns and correcting the returns for the new exemption level.

To apply, please click here:

Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit

If your corporation is building, renovating or acquiring an eligible commercial or industrial building in a designated region in Ontario, you may be eligible to claim a tax credit of up to $45,000 in a year.

The tax credit will be available to claim on your corporate income tax return.

To learn more and determine if your project qualifies, please click here:

Information for truck drivers

Ontario is taking steps to keep goods moving during COVID-19, such as providing truck drivers with more places to safely stop and rest. This includes parking at all 23 ONroutes and seasonal rest areas, truck inspection stations and truck lay-bys.

Find out more:

Job Opportunities in the Agriculture and Food Sector

The commitment and dedication of Ontario’s agriculture and food sector workers is what keeps our grocery store shelves full and food on our kitchen tables.

Learn about employment openings and training resources in Ontario’s agriculture and food sector if you’re looking for a new professional opportunity and the chance to make a difference during this COVID-19 outbreak.

Employer's Responsibilities

Learn about employers' responsibilities, and get information about job protections available to employees including:

  • Leaves of absence
  • Taking vacation time
  • Temporary layoffs
  • Filing a claim

Find PPE Suppliers

Access the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to find personal protective equipment for your business.

Sector-Specific Guidance and Posters

Get sector-specific guidelines and posters to help protect workers, customers and the general public.

We have also developed guidance for transit agencies and passengers to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Workplace Safety Plan

Learn how you can create a plan to help protect your workers and others from COVID-19.

Federal Government

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) 

Provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. This program has been implemented by banks and credit unions in collaboration with Export Development Canada.

Business owners can apply for support from CEBA through their banks and credit unions.

This support is available until October 31, 2020.

To learn more, please click here:

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Export Development Canada (EDC) is working with financial institutions to guarantee 80% of new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

This financing support is to be used for operational expenses and is available to both exporting and non-exporting companies.

This program is now available at various banks and credit unions.

This support is available until June 2021.

To learn more, please click here:

Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises

Through the Business Credit Availability Program, Business Development Canada (BDC) is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.

The program offers differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues.

This program is now available at various banks and credit unions.

This support is available until June 2021.

To learn more, please click here:

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)

Providing over $1.5 billion to help more businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and to local economies. This fund is specifically targeted to those that may require additional help to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, but have been unable to access other support measures.

To apply, please click here:

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

This program provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19.

Over the course of the program, property owners will reduce rent by at least 75% for the months of April, May, June, July, August and September for their small business tenants. CECRA will cover 50% of the rent, with the tenant paying up to 25% and the property owner forgiving at least 25%.

The deadline to opt-in for the final 3 months (July, August, September) of the program is October 30, 2020.

To qualify for CECRA for small businesses, the commercial property owner must:

  • Own commercial real property which is occupied by one or more impacted small business tenants
  • Enter (or have already entered) into a legally binding rent reduction agreement for the period of April, May and June 2020, reducing an impacted small business tenant’s rent by at least 75%
  • Ensure that there is a rent reduction agreement for each impacted tenant and sub-tenant and that it includes:
    • a moratorium on eviction for the period during which the property owner applies the loan proceeds, and
    • an acknowledgment that the forgiven rent will never be recoverable

Impacted small business tenants are businesses — including non-profit and charitable organizations — that:

  • pay no more than $50,000 in monthly gross rent per location (as defined by a valid and enforceable lease agreement)
  • generate no more than $20 million in gross annual revenues, calculated on a consolidated basis (at the ultimate parent level)
  • have experienced at least a 70% decline in pre-COVID-19 revenues (at the entity level)

Click here to apply:

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

More information coming soon.

Please click here to read the Government of Canada's news release on this new program:

Mid-Market Financing Program

Through the Business Credit Availability Program, the Business Development Canada’s (BDC) Mid-Market Financing Program will provide commercial loans ranging between $12.5 million and $60 million to medium-sized businesses whose credit needs exceed what is already available through the Business Credit Availability Program and other measures.

BDC anticipates that qualifying companies will have annual revenues in excess of approximately $100 million.

This support is available until June 2021.

To learn more, please click here:

Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program

Through the Business Credit Availability Program, EDC’s Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program will bring liquidity to companies who tend to have revenues of between $50 million to $300 million, to sustain operations during this uncertain period. EDC will continue to work with Canadian financial institutions to guarantee 75 % of new operating credit and cash-flow loans – ranging in size from $16.75 million to a maximum of $80 million.

These expanded guarantees are available to exporters, international investors and businesses that sell their products or services within Canada.

More details will be made available soon.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

As a Canadian employer who has seen a drop in revenue due to COVID-19, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your employee wages, retroactive to March 15. This subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease you back into normal operations.

A proposal has been made to continue the CEWS until June 2021, including possible changes to the rates and top-up calculation. Read the October 14 announcement and check back soon for details.

Applications for claim period 7 (August 30, 2020, to September 26, 2020) are now open.

Click here to check eligibility and apply for the program:

Extended the Work-Sharing Program

Extended the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks for employers affected by COVID-19. This measure will provide income support to employees eligible for Employment Insurance who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers.

Click here to apply:

Extension of Lay-off Periods

Extended time periods for temporary layoffs by up to six months in the Canada Labour Standards Regulations to allow employers more time to recall laid-off employees. The temporary changes will help protect the jobs of federally regulated private-sector employees and support employers facing economic hardship as a result of the pandemic.

To learn more about the changes, please click here:

Waiving Tariffs on Certain Medical Good

Waiving tariffs on certain medical goods, including PPE such as masks and gloves.

This will reduce the cost of imported PPE for Canadians, help protect workers, and ensure our supply chains can keep functioning well.

To learn more about this tariff relief, please click here:

Student Work Placement Program

The Student Work Placement Program gives post-secondary students across Canada paid work experience related to their field of study.

To participate in a student work placement you must be:

  • Registered in a post-secondary program that includes work placements
  • Canadian citizen, permanent resident or person with refugee protection given under the law; and
  • legally able to work in Canada according to the laws and regulations of the province or territory where you live

To find student work placements, click here:

Young Entrepreneurs

Providing $20.1 million in support for Futurpreneur Canada to continue supporting young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. The funding will allow Futurpreneur Canada to provide payment relief for its clients for up to 12 months.

To learn more, please click here:

Women Entrepreneur

Providing $15 million in new funding through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). This funding will be available to existing WES Ecosystem Fund recipient organizations, enabling these third-party organizations to provide timely support and advice to women entrepreneurs facing hardship due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

To learn more, please click here:

Supporting Black-led Business Organizations through the National Ecosystem Fund

Investing up to $53 million to develop and implement the National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country. This will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training.

This initiative is part of the Black Entrepreneurship Program, in which we are investing up to nearly $93 million.

More details on eligibility requirements and how to apply will be available soon.

Supporting Black Business Owners and Entrepreneurs through the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund

Supporting Black business owners and entrepreneurs through the Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000. This initiative is part of the Black Entrepreneurship Program, in which we are investing up to nearly $93 million.

More details on eligibility requirements and how to apply will be available soon.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

Provides bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going.

The additional liquidity provided through LEEFF allows Canada’s largest businesses, their workers and their suppliers to remain active during this difficult time, and position them for a rapid economic recovery.

This program is delivered by the Canada Development Investment Corporation, in cooperation with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada and the Department of Finance.

Click here to apply:

Relief for Federally Regulated Pension Plan Sponsors

Providing immediate, temporary relief to sponsors of federally regulated, defined benefit pension plans in the form of a moratorium, through the remainder of 2020, on solvency payment requirements for defined benefit plans. This relief will help ensure that employers have the financial resources they need to maintain their operations and their pension plans, and to protect the retirement security of their workers and retirees.

Insured Mortgage Purchase Program

Launched an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program, in which the Federal Government will purchase up to $150 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation.

This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada's mortgage market.

To learn more, please click here:

Bank of Canada's Actions

The Bank of Canada is acting in several ways to support the economy and financial system and stands ready to take any and all actions that it can to protect the well-being of Canadians during this difficult time. The Bank has responded by lowering interest rates, intervening to support key financial markets and providing liquidity support for financial institutions.

To learn more, please click here:

Lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer

The Office of the Superintendent of Financial Institutions announced it is lowering the Domestic Stability Buffer by 1.25% of risk-weighted assets. This action will allow Canada's large banks to inject $300 billion of additional lending in to the economy.


City of Toronto

Property Taxes

The 60-day grace period for property tax and utility bill payments and late penalties ended on May 15. View the billing dates for the rest of 2020.

As the City is not accepting in-person pre-payment of the Municipal Land Transfer Tax (MLTT), an Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT) process is now available.

Financial assistance is available to residential and commercial property owners impacted by COVID-19. The deadline to apply for this program is October 31 at midnight. 

BusinessTO Support Centre

Provides support to businesses, including not-for-profit and creative/culture organizations, with a focus on completing applications for government assistance. Businesses will be paired with an advisor to receive one-on-one consultation and guidance with applications for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit Opens in new windowOpens in new windowCanada Emergency Wage Subsidy Opens in new windowOpens in new windowTemporary Wage Subsidy for Employers Opens in new windowOpens in new windowWork-Sharing Program Opens in new windowOpens in new window.

Business advisors will also provide guidance on other City programs and general business advice. Interested businesses can get started by completing the registration form.

Digital Main Street Program

Expanding the Digital Main Street Opens in new windowOpens in new window program, which offers tools, resources, connections to trusted digital vendors, online learning and a Digital Service Squad who provide one-on-one virtual assistance. Working with community partners, the program has helped small businesses, including not-for-profit and creative/culture organizations, with everything from websites and social media, to launching e-commerce platforms.

ShopHERE powered by Google

Provides independent businesses and artists with a quick, easy and no-cost way to sell online. With the help of volunteer web developers, business students and corporate partners, this program provides businesses with one-on-one support building and launching a Shopify online store. The ShopHERE program is open to any business or artist that meets the eligibility requirements Opens in new windowOpens in new window.

Businesses enrolled in the City’s ShopHERE program are also eligible to participate in the Ritual – Open for Business program.

DriveInTO Program

This program helps organizers safely set up large-scale, high-value, temporary drive-in experiences throughout Toronto during the summer months at select sites. The Program supports free nights offered by local film and arts organizations to create a diversity of programming and provide community access to these popular events.

For information about the program, email [email protected].

Tax Relief for Live Music Venues

Providing property tax relief to 45 live music venues to support Toronto’s live music industry and address the unprecedented challenges that are threatening live music venues across the city.

This relief measure will be implemented through the final supplementary property tax notices that will be issued in the fall and is intended to remain in place beyond this year to support the long-term viability of Toronto’s live music sector. The 2020 deadline to apply was June 19.

The Leadership Emergency Arts Network (LEAN)

The Leadership Emergency Arts Network (LEAN), a network composed of sector leaders within the arts and culture community, is providing strategic decision-making, crisis response, financial analysis, board direction, relationship mediation, HR management, systems change and inspirational leadership to arts organizations dealing with the current crisis. 

Sign-up to receive help Opens in new windowOpens in new window.


To help businesses, services, and community agencies support physical distancing outside and inside their buildings while also accommodating increased demand for delivery and pickup services, the City is offering CurbTO, which is made up of two programs:

  • Temporary Parking Pick-up Zones
  • Curb Lane Pedestrian Zones.

Noise Bylaw & Deliveries

All retail businesses are exempt from the City of Toronto Noise Bylaw to facilitate after-hour deliveries.

The City’s Noise Bylaw includes the ability to provide an exemption in response to extraordinary circumstances affecting the immediate health, safety or welfare of the community. This exemption will ensure retailers can receive deliveries 24 hours of a day, seven days a week to ensure essential goods remain in stock.

Ritual – Open For Business

The City of Toronto is extending its partnership with Ritual to launch Open For Business – a collaboration with Ritual and DoorDash to help local businesses across Toronto increase their commission-free online sales. Any Toronto business that wants to access commission-free pickup and delivery can participate. The program runs until the end of the year.

Businesses enrolled in the City’s ShopHERE program will also be eligible.

Learn about Open For Business and enroll Opens in new windowOpens in new window.

Reopening Guidelines

The City of Toronto is overseeing the safe restart of many businesses and services in accordance with Provincial legislation. This page provides links to COVID-19 guidance documents that help businesses and community organizations reopen safely.

Toronto is currently in a modified Stage 2 of reopening as of October 10, when the Province implemented targeted measures in Toronto Opens in new windowOpens in new window that will last at least 28 days to help stop the spread of COVID-19. These measures impact high-contact locations, such as:

  • indoor food and drink services
  • indoor gyms and fitness centres
  • casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
  • cinemas
  • performing arts centres and venues
  • spectator areas in racing venues
  • interactive exhibits in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres or landmarks
  • personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. facials)
  • team sports, except for training sessions
  • conference and convention centres, except where there are courts

This is in accordance with the Provincial Reopening Ontario Act Opens in new windowOpens in new window (July 24) that provides direction on reopening.