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 new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) can provide $500 a week for up to 26 weeks for individuals ineligible for EI. Click here for more details. Note: The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) closed on September 26.

Click here to learn about changes to EI program, which includes sickness benefits.

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 Advice 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.

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 thrive in a changed business landscape. RAP’s cost is sponsored, and supports firms of any size across Ontario.

NOW LIVE: Take the RAP Digital Needs Assessment (DNA) for free. DNA is an online tool designed to give you a better understanding of the digital readiness of your business, benchmarked to your industry. It will provide you with a critical starting point for your digital transformation, and your gaps and opportunities.

Once complete, your company will receive your ‘DNA’ results and a follow-up email with a custom recommendation of the Recovery Activation Program service offering(s) that best meet the needs of your business.

COMPLETE YOUR DIGITAL NEEDS ASSESSMENT HERE

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.

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.

UPDATE: As of October 10, Toronto region has been moved back to a modified Stage 2. Click here for more details.

Note: Effective Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the following targeted measures have been implemented in Toronto and Peel as a result of their higher than average rates of transmission. Measures under a modified Stage 2 include:

  • Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
  • Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
  • Closing of:
    • Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
    • Indoor cinemas;
    • Performing arts centres and venues;
    • Spectator areas in racing venues;
    • Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.;

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

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

The City of Toronto has announced that wearing a mask or face covering is required in indoor public spaces as of July 7, 2020, under City of Toronto By-Law 541-2020. This means that, with some exceptions, all customers or visitors entering an indoor premise are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside. You can learn more about how this impacts your business here.

The City of Toronto has launched an online business licensing and permit application portal, allowing applicants requiring new licenses or permits to fill out an application, submit documentation, and complete the payment online.

The Ontario government is providing free online health and safety training to make it easier for job seekers and workers to get essential qualifications, while practicing physical distancing and preventing the spread of COVID-19. Click here to learn more.

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 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.

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

The government of Ontario will be providing a one-time grant of up to $1,000 for eligible small businesses with two to nine employees to help offset the unexpected costs of personal protective equipment (PPE). Click here to learn more.

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 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

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
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?

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.

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

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 can lower rent by 75% for small businesses affected by COVID-19. You can find the most up to date information here.

The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy will provide direct rent support to tenants and support to property owners. It will support organizations that have suffered a revenue drop by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses up to a maximum of 65% of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began on September 27. A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy of 25% will be available for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority. More info to come.

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).

UPDATE: Even though the CERB has ended, you can apply for a period retroactively. The CRA is continuing to accept and process retroactive applications for period 7 (August 30 to September 26, 2020) through the CRA’s My Account or automated toll-free phone line.

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 Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA).

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 more information here.

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. More information about the program can be found here.

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. UPDATE: Even though the CERB has ended, you can apply for a period retroactively. The CRA is continuing to accept and process retroactive applications for period 7 (August 30 to September 26, 2020) through the CRA’s My Account or automated toll-free phone line.

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 (CEBA) 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 City of Toronto has developed a fact sheet for employers on preventing the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace. It can be viewed here.

The Toronto Region Board of Trade has developed a “Returning to Physical Workspaces Toolkit,” outlining steps that employers can take to ensure employees are working in a safe work environment.

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

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.