FAQs

Frequently Asked Questions

Government Aid & Taxes

I am an individual or small business owner who has lost income due to COVID-19, what help is a available?

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.

What government programs are available to financially assist small, medium, and large businesses?

Federal

Individuals and businesses can see all Federal programming related to COVID-19 here.

You can also track all Federal programming and announcements at the Toronto Region Board of Trade’s Access Support page.

Provincial

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

Municipal

You can access the City of Toronto COVID-19 response page here.

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.

Has the date for filing commercial taxes changed?

No, rules applicable to the filing of corporate and commercial tax returns—in particular, the filing deadlines—are not changed. The only change is the postponement of the tax payment date. More info can be found here. UPDATE: The CRA has extended the payment due date for corporate tax returns from September 1 to September 30, 2020. Click here for more information.

Is there any aid available to meet operational costs?

The Business Credit Availability Package, which includes the 3 following programs, might help:

What resources are available for small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access other resources?

The federal government has announced $675 million funding for financing support to small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures, through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies. Click here to learn more.

Business Recovery

How do I create a business continuity plan?

Export Development Canada is providing template documents to help you put together a business continuity exercise and plan.

PwC Canada is offering companies the chance to use their diagnostic tool to assess where their company is most vulnerable amid COVID-19, provides insights into where you should focus your efforts and more

Deloitte is providing businesses with insights on how to build practical workforce strategies, manage cash flow and maintain customer loyalty during COVID-19. They have also created a live dashboard allows you to monitor health, community/social activity, financial and economic indicators that will signal when the rebound stage has arrived.

KPMG Canada has published a guide to robust business continuity planning to help boards, senior management and risk managers decide on how to act so that they can safeguard their businesses and discover opportunities in a crisis or economic downturn. Featured topics include cash management, building agile and resilient operating models, taxes, employment matters, and contracts and legal obligations.

How can my business pivot to a digital strategy?

The Scale Up Institute’s Recovery Activation Program (RAP) offers an immersive, highly practical online workshop that helps you identify areas for digital overhaul so that your business can company thrive in a changed business landscape. RAP’s cost is sponsored, and supports firms of any size across Ontario. Click here to apply.

Toronto’s Digital Main Street program 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 with everything from websites and social media, to launching e-commerce platforms.

Where can I find 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.

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.

UPDATE: The Ontario government announced that all regions are eligible to enter Stage 3. Click here for more details.

Note: Bars and restaurants in Ontario are required to keep client logs for a period of 30 days. Click here for more information.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Loans & Deferrals

Are there any emergency loans I can apply for and receive immediately (as I am on the brink of bankruptcy)?

You might be eligible for the City of Toronto’s contingency fund: call 311 (Toronto) or 416-392-2489 (outside Toronto city limits).

The Canada Emergency Business Account program (interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and not-for-profits) is available. Contact your financial institution to discuss your opportunities.

What types of payments have been deferred, and for how long? (e.g. mortgages, business loans, credit card payments, etc.)

Financial products (depending on your bank):

  • mortgage payments deferred up to 6 months
  • credit card payments deferred up to 6 months
  • business loan payments deferred up to 6 months

Taxes:

  • Income Tax payment to September 30, 2020.
How are banks providing financial help?

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.

Effective immediately, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges.

Are there resources regarding tax and finance?

Ernst & Young’s Tax Alerts cover significant tax news, developments and changes in legislation that affect Canadian businesses. They act as technical summaries to keep you on top of the latest tax issues.

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

KPMG Canada has a helpful Tax Considerations guide outlining the impact of COVID-19 on tax compliance.

Deloitte Canada recently discussed Canadian Tax & Legal Insights for business leaders.

Can I defer my loan payments to banks / lendors, and for how long?

Yes, you can defer your loan payment to banks/lenders for up to 6 months. Effective immediately, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges. This can include loan payment deferrals for up to 6 months, depending on your bank.

Can I defer my commercial property mortgage payments, and for how long?

Yes, you can defer your commercial property mortgage repayments for up to 6 months. Effective immediately, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges, which might include commercial property mortgage repayments for up to 6 months, depending on your bank.

Can I defer my credit card payments, and for how long?

Yes, you can defer your credit card payments for up to 6 months. Effective immediately, Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with their small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges, including solutions such as credit card repayment. For example, RBC may waive the requirement for you to make the minimum payment on your credit cards for up to 6 months.

Is there any help on deferring rents on commercial properties?

The Federal government is offering the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to help businesses cover rent. To find out more, visit ceba-cuec.ca/.

As of March 24, 2020, households, farms, and small businesses that pay time-of-use electricity rates will be charged the off-peak rate of12.8¢ per kWh, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. The assistance is being rolled out in collaboration with the provinces and territories as rent policy is largely provinces and municipalities’ responsibility. More details to come.

I am renting a property to a business that is now unable to pay the rent. Is there any aid available?

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses affected by COVID-19.

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three-monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.
  • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent.
  • Affected small business tenants are those paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

You should contact your mortgage company or financial institution to understand how this will affect your mortgage payment schedule. Depending on your financial institution, you can defer your commercial property mortgage repayments for up to 6 months.

Is there any aid for sole proprietors/self employed people?

If you pay yourself a salary with payroll deductions, you may be eligible for Employment Insurance, but because there is a backlog you may want to apply for the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit. If you are not paying yourself a salary with payroll deductions, you should apply for the Canada Emergency Relief Benefit.

Other available credits include the Canada Child Benefit, GST Credit, and Canada Workers’ Benefit.

Has there been any reductions on the interest charges on credit cards?

Depending on your financial institution, you might have the opportunity for relief on credit products such as a reduction on interest on the credit card. Contact your financial institution for more information.

Staffing

Has the government increased the Employment Insurance limit from the current 10%?

No, but support actions on EI include waiving the waiting period, the requirement to provide a medical certificate, and backdated claims. The government also created the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

What are the various subsidies the government has announced to keep my staff on payroll?

If your employees cannot work as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and you’re unable to pay their salary, they can apply for either Employment Insurance (EI), sickness benefits, or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB).

If you are still able to pay your employees, the Temporary Wage Subsidy is a three-month measure that allows eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA). Read their FAQ for more information.

The Federal government has extended the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program (offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours because of developments beyond the control of their employers) from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.

Is government aid taxable?

The Temporary Wage Subsidy is a taxable income. If you receive it, you must report the total amount as income in the year in which the subsidy is received.

What documents do I need to provide to my laid off staff in order for them to access government aid?

You must issue a Record of Employment (ROE). When you fill in the document, different codes apply depending on the separation reason related to COVID-19.

On the Employment and Social Development Canada website, scroll down to the “In your workplace” section and click the dropdown option Employment Insurance – Record of Employment for details.

What are the types of support related to employee compensation/payroll?

For workers, the Employee Insurance benefits or the new Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) are available.

For employers, the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is a subsidy that covers up to 75% of an employee’s wages and the Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy is a three-month measure that allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the CRA.

Borden Ladner Gervais LLP has created a summary and practical guide for employers to understand the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

The Work-Sharing program has also been extended from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.

The Canada Emergency Business Account program is an interest-free loan of up to $40,000 to meet operational costs and payroll.

How do I keep my employees safe?

The Canadian Federation of Independent Business has outlined operational recommendations for keeping your team safe. Learn more about these and other resources for small businesses navigating the crisis.

The World Health Organization has provided guidance as to how to prepare your workplace for COVID-19.

Sector-Specific

What resources are available for food producers, agribusiness, or food processing businesses?

Farm Credit Canada can help you manage the COVID-19 crisis through a new COVID-19 support program.

The new Agri-Food Open for E-Business initiative will help food producers, farmers markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries, and agricultural associations develop online business, providing consumers with greater access to a wide variety of food and agriculture products. This targeted application intake features two funding streams: 1) Bring Your Business Online. Eligible organizations and businesses can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to establish an online e-business and marketing presence. Funding under this stream will be quick and responsive for those needing immediate solutions. 2) Develop Online Business Opportunities. Eligible organizations, businesses and collaborations can apply for cost-share funding of up to $75,000 to implement high-impact projects.

The Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund gives fish and seafood companies access to short-term financing to modify their plants to meet COVID-19 health regulations, support social distancing measures as well as buy personal protective equipment for processors.

What resources are available for businesses in the arts, culture, and sports sectors?

The federal government has committed $962 million to Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) and Community Futures Network.

The federal government has also announced $500 million of funding to establish a COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations to help address the financial needs of affected organizations within these sectors so they can continue to support artists and athletes.

Will Export Development Canada (EDC) support my overseas production?

For all inquiries, contact 1-800-229-0575 or tradeadvisor-conseiller@edc.ca.

*Note: EDC is continuing and modifying their trade creation efforts based on location. As COVID-19 evolves, EDC has taken steps to minimize health risks to employees, including restrictions on travel. If you have questions related to any of their trade creation efforts, please contact your EDC representative or an EDC trade advisor at tradeadvisor-conseiller@edc.ca, or by phone at 1-888-220-0047 between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET.

Are there any innovation grants for entrepreneurs/businesses adopting digital technology or research & development?

If your business can provide an innovative solution to fight against the COVID-19, you may be eligible to the following supercluster funding programs:

 

How is the government helping the Innovation economy (Tech, IP, Life Science, etc.)?

The government announced a Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19 to refocus on innovation procurement programs to fight against COVID-19. This includes the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF), which is set to deliver support to large-scale projects; the National Research Council of Canada, which will expedite research and development with small and medium-sized enterprises; and the Innovation Superclusters, which are being asked to tap into their networks to help companies commercialize products more quickly.

Are there any programs to help small businesses transition to selling online?

The Scale Up Institute’s Recovery Activation Program (RAP) is an immersive, highly practical program that will help businesses digitize and grow their operations with the help of a custom Digital Transformation Blueprint. RAP’s cost is sponsored, and supports firms of any size across Ontario. Click here to learn more and apply.