Find the Support Your Business Needs

A comprehensive library of the best COVID-19 information and resources for SMEs, critical business support programs available to you—and how to apply.

COVID-19 represents an enormous—often existential—challenge for Toronto small and medium-sized businesses like yours. We have aggregated resources, tools, and business support programs for SMEs in one place. Click the descriptions that apply to you and see what’s available.

More questions? Send us a chat message in the bottom right corner of your screen.

I Need Financial Support

Support for individuals or small business owners who have lost income due to COVID-19.

The Government of Canada has enacted Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), for those who have lost their jobs, are forced to self-isolate or quarantine due to COVID-19, or are working or self-employed but earning $1000 or less per month. If employees run out of employment insurance, they can now access the CERB.

UPDATE: CERB has been extended by 8 weeks (i.e., from 16 to 24 weeks).

Payroll support for struggling businesses.

For businesses suffering a 15% or more decline in revenue because of the pandemic, the federal government is offering the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) to subsidize up to 75% of employees’ wages, capped at $847/week for each employee and backdated to March 15.

The Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy is a three-month measure allowing eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deduction required to be remitted to the CRA.

Financing support for my business.

The Federal government announced a series of initiatives intended to provide financial assistance to Canadian businesses during COVID 19.

The federal government is establishing a Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) to provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers in order to keep their operations going.

The Canada Emergency Business Account* is providing interest-free loans for small businesses. This program will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs.

Export Development Canada’s (EDC) new Loan Guarantee* program will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow.

Additionally, Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) has launched a Co-Lending Program* with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.

*Small businesses and not-for-profits should contact their financial institution to apply for these loans.

EDC offers an Investment Matching Program to businesses, including non-exporting companies. Please contact your EDC representative for more information.

Private sector financing.

This free matchmaking service from Hockeystick Startup Network makes introductions to funders who match with your business. Sign-up here.

Shopify is offering cash advances of $200 – 500,000 to its online merchants.

Support for rent.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program can lower rent by 75% for small businesses affected by COVID-19. You can find the most up to date information here. Note: Ontario is temporarily halting or reversing evictions of commercial tenants. Click here for more info.

Support for food producers, agribusinesses and food processors.

Federal and Provincial governments have announced a number of financial assistance programs for the agri-food sector:

  • Farm Credit Canada can help you manage the COVID-19 crisis through a new COVID-19 support program.
  • The Agri-Food Open for E-Business initiative will help food producers, farmers markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries, and agricultural associations develop online business.
  • $252 million in assistance to Canadian farmers and others in the agri-food sector. The government intends to propose an additional $200 million in borrowing capacity for the sector. Click here for more information.
  • Licensed meat processing plants are eligible for assistance to better protect employees and ensure the continued supply of products. Click here to learn more.
  • $469.4 million in new measures to support Canada’s fish harvesters.

Support for the food and restaurant industry.

Browse Restaurants Canada’s updates and resources for food service operators here.

The City of Toronto’s CaféTO program helps provide more outdoor dining areas to help restaurants and bars create physical distancing for patrons on patios.

The Government of Canada has announced a $50 million fund to help all food production and processing employers in order to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad

Support for SMEs unable to access other resources.

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) provides more than $962 million in financial contributions (interest-free loans) nationally to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Support for companies helping the fight against COVID-19.

The Provincial government’s Ontario Together Fund of $50 million will financially support eligible companies to retool, build capacity or adopt the technological changes needed to produce supplies and equipment for hospitals, long-term care homes and other critical public service.

Support for charities and non-profit organizations.

The federal government is setting up a $350 million Emergency Community Support Fund to help charities and non-profits.

Support for indigenous SMEs and Aboriginal Financial Institutions.

The federal government has announced $306.8 million in funding to help SMEs, and to support Aboriginal Financial Institutions that offer financing to these businesses.

Ontario is offering loans of up to $50,000 to Indigenous businesses that are either ineligible for, or unable to access, existing federal and provincial COVID-19 response initiatives for small businesses. Click here for more info.

Support for young entrepreneurs.

The federal government announced $20.1 million in support for Futurpreneur Canada to continue to support young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. Click here to learn more about Futurpreneur Canada.

Support for arts, culture, and sports sectors.

The federal government has also announced $500 million of funding to establish a COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations.

Support for tech companies and start-ups.

BDC Capital, BDC’s investment arm, has launched the BDC Capital Bridge Financing Program which matches, with a convertible note, a current financing round being raised through qualified existing and/or new investors made into eligible Canadian start-ups.

The federal government is also offering $250-million in pandemic support to the technology sector to assist innovative, early-stage companies through the National Research Council’s Industrial Research Assistance Program.

The Career Ready Program, funded by the federal government’s Student Work Placement Program (SWPP) and TECHNATION, covers up to 70% of gross wages for Canadian companies and scale-ups that leverage student talent during the pandemic.

I need savings on my shipping costs.

UPS is currently offering an up-to 50% discount for its members. Learn more by visiting their website.

I Need Decision-Making Guidance

Where can I find up to date government COVID-19 response pages?

  • You can access the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 response page here.
  • You can access the Government of Ontario’s COVID-19 response page here.
  • You can access the City of Toronto’s COVID-19 response page here.

I want to know more details about the Government of Ontario’s decision to close and re-open non-essential businesses.

The province has released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.

The government of Ontario has announced that certain businesses and workplaces in Ontario are being allowed to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures (see the Ministry of Health’s Guidance Document for Essential Workplaces) and occupational health and safety requirements.

You can access the full list of sectors eligible to re-open published by the Government of Ontario here.

UPDATE: The Ontario government announced that most regions, including Toronto, are eligible to enter Stage 2. Click here to see what can reopen in Stage 2.

You can also call the Government of Ontario’s toll-free line at 1-888-444-3659 to ask any questions about the emergency order.

I need access to Personal Protective Equipment as I reopen my business.

The Rapid Response Platform matches PPE suppliers with businesses who need it.

The federal government’s PPE Supply Hub brings together governmental and private sector sources of PPEs.

The Government of Ontario also maintains a PPE supplier directory.

Ontario’s Enhanced Agri-food Workplace Protection Program shares farmers’ cost to purchase Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and do workplace modifications and other measures to improve health and safety for workers. Off-farm primary packing operations are also eligible. More details to come in the near future.

How can I prepare my business to safely re-open amid COVID-19?

Toronto Public Health released a planning guide to help businesses reopen safely, including a risk assessment tool, a risk mitigation guide and links to an array of industry-specific support documents. You can access it here.

The Government of Ontario has released guide on how to develop a COVID-19 workplace safety plan.

Click here to access various Ontario health and safety associations’ guidance documents for workplaces in various sectors operating during the pandemic.

The Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses (CFIB) has developed a Back to Business Kit, which contains best practices, answers to FAQs, posters and templates. They are also offering free temporary membership to businesses during the pandemic.

The People Outside Safely Together (POST) Promise logo, endorsed by the federal government, is a nationally recognized symbol of a business’ commitment to doing their part to protect their customers’ and employees’ health and safety as COVID-19 restrictions ease.

KPMG provides an employee-centric and safe guideline for returning to work.

Restaurants Canada outlines best practices for restaurants reopening.

Are you a “person responsible for a place of business that is open” in Ontario? Denton’s Canada released an important guide to understanding your legal duties and potential charges and fines

The CurbTO Program allows businesses to request a temporary parking pick-up zone, a curb lane pedestrian zone, and/or physical distancing signage for sidewalk line-ups.

McCarthy Tetrault’s article, Moving Forward – Considerations for the Re-Opening of Physical Workplaces, considers key questions facing businesses as they look at re-opening.

Cushman & Wakefield’s Recovery Readiness: A How-to Guide for Reopening your Workplace is a comprehensive resource. The firm also offers retail and warehouse specific readiness checklists.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has launched the Canadian Business Resilience Network guide for businesses looking to reopen. The guide can be accessed here.

The Ontario government is providing employers with a new general workplace guide, which will help them develop a safety plan to better protect workers, customers and clients.

How can I adapt my business strategy to reflect the impacts of COVID-19?

The Scale Up Institute’s Recovery Activation Program (RAP) can help businesses develop a digital business strategy to recover from the disruption caused by COVID-19, while building growth-oriented futures through process modernization and digital transformation.

RAP is completely free for businesses and supports firms of any size across Ontario. Click here to learn more.

MaRS has assembled resources to help start-ups navigate this crisis.

Ontario’s Tackling the Barriers website is accepting proposals for temporary changes to rules and regulations to support businesses facing challenges during the pandemic.

The Retail Council of Canada offers recovery planning resources for retailers, including retail recovery playbooks and checklists.

MNP article Charting Your Course, explores how organizations can take near-term actions to begin their recovery.

The Canadian Centre For Occupational Health And Safety has developed a Pandemic Information Sharing Portal to enable businesses to share good practices and resources that other workplaces may find helpful in developing their own business continuity plans.

The City of Toronto is preparing to oversee the safe restart of some services and partial reopening of many businesses. Resources have been developed to help support business through this time. For guidance on safely reopening, business operators can reference the Toronto Public Health Planning Guide, and visit the COVID-19: Reopening Guidelines for Businesses & Organizations to view sector specific resources. Decisions about when and how businesses can begin operating will be made by the Government of Ontario in accordance with its framework to reopen the province after COVID-19.

I need information and advice on tax and finance.

The BusinessTO Support Centre provides one-on-one virtual support to help businesses complete applications for Federal COVID-19 funding programs and get general business advice.

BLG released a comprehensive guide addressing important tax issues for businesses in a challenging economic environment. Click here to learn more.

Business Resilience Service (BRS) will provide options for any vulnerable SMEs, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms. The service will be provided for four weeks from Monday, May 25. Organizations can access the BRS seven days a week by calling 1-866-989-1080.

RSM’s Coronavirus Resource Centre provides insights and tools for businesses navigating the crisis, including tax updates related to COVID-19.

I need resources on how to pivot to a digital strategy.

The Scale Up Institute’s Recovery Activation Program (RAP) connects businesses with industry experts for guidance, mentorship and practical advice on moving your business online and expanding its presence in the digital marketplace.

RAP is completely free for businesses, and supports firms of any size across Ontario.

Toronto’s Digital Main Street (DMS)  program offers tools, resources, connections to trusted digital vendors, online learning and a Digital Service Squad who provide one-on-one virtual assistance.

DMS’ Ontario Grants Program provides main street businesses with $2,500 Digital Transformation Grants.

ShopHERE helps independent small businesses and artists build an online store at no cost.

Future Proofing Main Street is a program that assists businesses with identifying new markets, pivoting their business model, and developing and implementing a deep digital transformation plan.

Randstad outlines 4 steps to build a successful e-commerce platform amid business disruption.

I need help with staffing and HR during COVID-19.

Boomers Plus is helping organizations impacted by COVID-19 find experienced talent online.

Start-ups looking to post job vacancies can share their openings on Prospect’s job board.

The federal government has drastically reduced the time it takes for a temporary foreign worker to start a new job. Click here to learn more.

Ted Rogers School of Management has released an online resource to help organizations tackle the world of remote onboarding.

Odgers Berndtson’s Insights portal offers articles with insights relevant to businesses facing HR questions during the pandemic.

Deloitte’s recent publication, Workforce strategies for post-COVID-19 recovery, provides a framework for HR leaders to think through business continuity and recovery.

I Need Help with Taxes, Hydro Bills, and Other Government-Related Costs

I need help with my taxes.

The Federal government also announced a number of extensions on Income Tax filing for 2019. You can find all the relevant dates here.

The Government of Ontario is offering deferral on select provincially administered taxes until August 31, 2020.

The Ontario government has temporarily increased the Employer Health Tax exemption for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million until January 1, 2021.

The Government of Ontario is also offering deferral of Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premium payments until August 31, 2020 with no interest or penalty.

I need a break on my property taxes or hydro bill.

The City of Toronto has put in place a temporary grace period for paying property tax and hydro bills. Learn more and review other measures put in place by the municipal government.

The Government of Ontario has announced that hydro customers will now be billed based on a new fixed COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt-hour.

They have also announced $8 million for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) to provide support to businesses struggling with bill payments as a result of the outbreak. More information to come shortly.

I Need Help Supporting My Employees

I have laid off employees as a result of COVID-19.

You are required to issue them a Record of Employment. Visit the Employment and Social Development Canada website.

The Government of Ontario is investing in UNITE HERE’s Virtual Action Centre, an online counselling and training portal, to support laid off and unemployed hospitality workers, and is helping apprentices by providing grants for tools, PPEs and clothing.

I am considering a work-sharing program for my employees.

The Government of Canada has expanded the work-sharing program with temporary special measuresClick here for a full description of the program and eligibility.

I’m concerned about my employees’ mental and physical health during this crisis.

The Action Guide by Ellevate Network provides resources to help employees, managers and executives cope with work challenges posed by COVID-19.

Wellness Together Canada connects Canadians to peer support workers, social workers, psychologists and other professionals for confidential chat sessions or phone calls and makes it easier to find credible information and help address mental health and substance use issues.

Sunlife is offering free access to their Lumino Health platform, featuring a wide variety of mental health resources.

WellCan offers free well-being resources to help Canadians develop coping strategies and build resilience to help deal with uncertainty, mental health and substance abuse concerns during the COVID-19 pandemic.

I Need Help with Global Markets

I am an exporter/importer.

Export Development Canada (EDC) is providing critical COVID-19 information for exporters, including new financial supports available through EDC.

EDC is also providing advice to exporters for managing business risk through the crisis.

EDC’s updated Global Economic Outlook offers insight on challenges faced by Canadian exporters to help them make better business decisions during these challenging times.

The federal government is waiving tariffs on certain medical goods, including PPE such as masks and gloves.

Visit the following resource pages shared by the Federal Trade Commissioner’s website:

I am concerned about my global supply chain.

McCarthy Tetrault outlines solutions for stabilizing supply chains in this article.

Deloitte Canada offers insights on managing supply chain risk and disruption in this article.

If you depend on a global supply chain, this Export Development Canada webinar will show you what’s happening and how to protect your company. Watch the webinar.

I would like funding to support international market development activities.

Consider applying for CanExport SMEs funding, which can support up to 75% of your international market development activities.