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We know that this is a difficult time, full of uncertainty. The information you need to run your business changes rapidly, and it can be hard to keep track and make sense of it all.
In order to relieve some of the pressure on small businesses such as yours, we are gathering all the information you need about government services and supports in Ontario and putting it in this one location. We will continue working with governments to ensure additional relief measures become available for your business as the situation evolves.
Please check back regularly. We will update this page as more information becomes available.
COVID-19 Response Framework and Lockdowns
Ontario is currently in a State of Emergency. As of 12:01am on January 14th new emergency orders will take effect across the province.
If you are unsure if your business should be open, please call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Face-coverings are currently mandatory for employees and customers in the publicly-accessible areas of all businesses in Ontario.
Some municipalities and health units have their own by-laws and orders that have additional restrictions, including signage , workplace policy, and hand-sanitizer requirements. Businesses are required to comply with requirements from all levels of government.
Support for businesses
Ontario Small Business Support Grant
The Ontario government has announced it will launch a new support grant in January for small businesses impacted by the latest round of restrictions. The grant will provide $10,000 - $20,000.
Eligible small businesses will be those that:
- Are required to close or significantly restrict services due to the provincewide shutdown being imposed on December 26th
- Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level
- Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020
Businesses that were already locked down under the colour-code framework will be eligible for this grant. Applications are expected to become available in January.
Businesses that were under "Modified Stage 2" (Toronto, Ottawa Peel Region, York Region) as well as those in the RED-CONTROL or LOCKDOWN zones are eligible for energy bill and property tax rebates. All businesses eligible for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will also be eligible for these rebates.
Some Ontario businesses qualify for an up to $1,000 provincial grant to cover PPE costs like masks, hand-sanitizer or plex-glass shields.
Qualifying businesses must:
- Have 2 to 9 employees
- Be in the retail, accommodation and food services, repair and maintenance, or personal and laundry services sector
When applying, you will need to submit receipts for any PPE items purchased since March 17, 2020.
Ontario has included commercial eviction protection in its 2020 budget bill. The protection extends to any business that was eligible for the CECRA program as well as those who receive the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
The protection is retroactive to October 31, and lasts until January 31st, 2021 for CECRA-eligible businesses. This means that these businesses will have been protected since May under the various provincial measures.
Any business that successfully receives CERS is protected from eviction for 12 weeks from the date of their approval. Businesses must share proof of the approval with their landlords. The 12 week period renews upon every new CERS payment.
DIGITAL MARKETING AND E-COMMERCE
The Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government, invested $57-million into the Digital Main Street platform to support three new programs to help small businesses with their online presence.
- shopHERE powered by Google will connect businesses with skilled and trained students to build and launch online stores.
- The Digital Main Street Grant will provide $2,500 grants to eligible businesses to help with digital marketing and adopting new technologies.
- Future-Proofing Main Street will connect business owners with teams of students and digital marketing professionals to help create new online business models, e-commerce platforms and maximize digital tools and content.
In its 2020 Budget, the Ontario government announced the following measures to support small businesses:
- The Employer Health Tax (EHT) threshold increase to $1-million is now permanent.
- Business Education Property Tax (BET) rates will be reduced for most businesses in 2020
- Mid-sized energy users will see the Global Adjustment portion of their energy bills reduced by 14-16%.
- Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption threshold increased to $1-million for the next year
As of November 1, businesses have been allowed to choose between regular time-of-use pricing or a tiered rate system.
Support for employees
If you need to lay off employees temporarily, there is no requirement to give or pay notice since the employee is not being terminated.
In Ontario, employers have the option to temporarily lay off employees for up to 13 weeks. After 13 weeks, the lay off becomes permanent and severance pay rules will apply.
Ontario has extended job-protection for employees unable to work because:
- The employee is under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19.
- The employee is acting in accordance with an order under the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
- The employee is in isolation or quarantine.
- The employee is acting in accordance with public health information or direction.
- The employer directs the employee not to work.
- The employee needs to provide care to a person for a reason related to COVID-19 such as a school or day-care closure.
The protections are retroactive to January 25, 2020.
Ontario employers are also restricted from asking for doctor’s notes for COVID-19 related leaves, including quarantine, self-isolation or childcare responsibilities due to COVID-19 related school and daycare closures.
The WSIB has frozen 2021 rates at 2020 levels.
Stay tuned to the WSIB website for the latest updates.
How you can help the province
The Government of Ontario announced a new website to help businesses work with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. Any business that could produce - or reconfigure to produce - essential equipment, from ventilators and masks to swabs and eye-protection, is encouraged to visit the Ontario Together webpage.
FAQ on COVID-19
We’re dedicated to supporting your business through this difficult time by compiling answers to the most common COVID-19 questions and keeping you up to date on the latest relief measures from the Federal government. Visit our Small Business Help Center to learn more.