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.

Can tax filing be deferred (sales tax, commercial income tax, property tax, HST, etc.)?

Yes, although filing deadlines remain the same, the government is deferring:

  • Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) remittances and customs duty payments to June 30, 2020.
  • Income Tax payment to September 1, 2020.
Is there any aid available to meet operational costs?

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

Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where they operate. This program might help cover operational costs. To find out if your business is eligible and to apply, visit https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants?ref=eml

Shopify is offering cash advances of $200 – 500,000 to its online merchants. There are “no credit checks, no deadline on the repayment. The business is not obligated to pay for anything if they’re not making sales. There’s no interest; it’s a factor rate..”

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 Continuity

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 covid19, 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.

Is there business support specific to start-ups?

Hockeystick Startup Network is offering a free matchmaking service, which makes direct introductions to funders who match with your business. It contains over 200 verified funding sources including venture capital, Angels, private lenders and government programs. Sign-up here.

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

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

How can my business pivot to a digital strategy?

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.

McKinsey and Co. recently shared an article on how to create a digital strategy in a time of crisis.

How do I help my employees’ transition to working online from home?

ESET is offering 90-day free access to their remote workforce support. This includes protecting open source VPNs and blocking unauthorized access to employee devices, as well as improving protection against ransomware and other threats transmitted via emails and fake websites.

TELUS is offering 90-day free access to their Virtual Workplace Solutions package. They have also released a downloadable webinar to help employees maximize their remote work with a virtual workplace.

Tanium is offering to help organizations adapt and thrive as they transition their operations into a more dispersed work-force.

Softchoice is offering free workshops for remote work preparedness. They have also introduced a series of Rapid Response Workshops and Customer Engagements to help organizations, including not-for-profits, navigate an accelerated shift to remote work and operations.

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

Aptum is offering various services including free complimentary Security Awareness Briefings to keep technical challenges from getting in the way of business opportunities.

Cisco is offering free services and training to support remote workers across the globe.

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:

  • Goods and Services Tax/Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST) remittances and customs duty payments to June 30, 2020
  • Income Tax payment to September 1, 2020

Commercial Properties & Rent:

  • Grace period for property tax and utility bills started March 16, 2020, for 60 days
  • Toronto Hydro suspended electricity disconnections for low-volume small business customers until July 31, 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 additional resources regarding tax and finance?

RBC launched a podcast series #SmallBusinessMatters, bringing together owners and business experts to share insights, advice and tips for survival.

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.

What sources are available for low or no interest loans and how does one access them?

The government has created a financial package including low or no-interest loans, which you can access through your current financial institution.

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/.

The City of Toronto is providing a grace period for Property Tax and Utility Bill payments and payment penalties for 60 days, starting March 16, 2020.

As of March 24, 2020, households, farms, and small businesses that pay time-of-use electricity rates will be charged the off-peak rate of 10.1¢ per kWh, 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Toronto Hydro has extended its current suspension of electricity disconnections for low-volume small business customers until July 31, 2020. Contact your Customer Care team directly at 416-542-8000 for help with billing concerns and payment options.

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.
  • The program is expected to be operational by mid-May, and further details will be posted soon.

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.

The government is allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer payments of GST/HST, as well as customs duty owing on any imports, until June 30, 2020.

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.

Eligible employers can access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy by applying through the Canada Revenue Agency portal online. Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may continue to qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10% of remuneration paid from March 18 to before June 20, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer.

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 energy sector?

To support Canadians working in the energy sector, the Government of Canada will provide up to $750 million to create a new proposed Emissions Reduction Fund to reduce emissions in Canada’s oil and gas sector, with a focus on methane.

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:

Facebook is offering $100M in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries where they operate. This program might help cover operational costs.  To find out if your business is eligible and to apply, visit https://www.facebook.com/business/boost/grants?ref=eml

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?

eBay Canada is launching Up & Running, an accelerator program specifically designed to support retailers without an e-commerce presence to reach their customers online.

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