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Ontario: COVID-19 relief measures for your business

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. 

Reopening the Economy

Most of Ontario has entered Stage 3 of the province's economic reopening plan.

To determine if your business can be open, check out the provincial guidelines.

Please note that all sectors allowed to reopen must do so under strict health and safety guidelines. You can find the guidelines for your sector here.

Have questions about reopening? Check out our Ontario FAQ and business operational plan template to help get you organized!

For information on future phases, Read the provincial plan, A Framework for Reopening our Province, here.

MANDATORY FACE-COVERINGS

Some regions have made masks and hand sanitizer mandatory for indoor public spaces, including businesses.

For regions with these rules, business owners will be responsible for ensuring all employees and patrons in indoor areas accessible to the general public are wearing a face-covering, unless there is a valid health reason that prevents them from doing so. If someone refuses to wear a mask, the business owner is responsible for removing that person from the premises. 

We encourage you to check in with you local public health unit for the latest information

Ontario State of Emergency

Ontario's State of Emergency expired as of July 24, 2020. However, most of the province's emergency orders remain in place.

If you are unsure if your business should be open, please call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Support for businesses

RENT

The Ontario government passed the Protecting Small Businesses Act which puts a temporary pause on on commercial evictions in the province for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assisstance program (CECRA) eligible businesses.The ban is retroactive to May 1, and will last until August 31. Any business evicted within that time frame but before legislation is passed will see their eviction overturned. 

On April 24, the Ontario government announced the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program. The $900 million program will assist some commercial renters and their landlords.

Landlords apply for a forgivable loan administered through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMCH) that would cover 50% of rent payments for April, May and June for eligible businesses. Landlords must also agree to reduce rent by at least 75 per cent and not evict tenants during the three month period.

The Landlord would be responsible for half of the remaining rent (25 % of the total), with tenants responsible for the other half (25% of the total).

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.

More information on the program and how to apply can be found here.

In its Spring Fiscal Update, the Ontario government announced the following measures to support small businesses:

  • Provincial tax deferrals on the Employer Health Tax (EHT), Tobacco Tax, Fuel Tax, Beer Tax and Mining Tax and other provincially-administered taxes until August 31, 2020 with no interest or penalty
  • WSIB premium deferrals until August 31, 2020 with no interest or penalty
  • Business Education Property Tax deferrals for one payment quarter (90 days after June)
  • Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption threshold increased to $1-million for the next year
  • Property tax reassessments being conducted this year for the 2021 tax year have been postponed
  • Provincial Land Tax Payments are deferred from their next due date for 90 days without interest or penalty\

Please check the government website for a full list of measures in the Spring Update.

The Ontario government also announced a new COVID recovery electricity rate, effective June 1 to October 31. As of November 1, businesses will be 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.

Workers’ Compensation

As part of its Spring Fiscal Update, the Ontario government deferred WSIB premium payments until August 31, 2020 with no interest or penalty.

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.

What is CFIB doing?

CFIB’s Ontario legislative team is working around the clock to make sure government officials know what your business needs are. Currently we are asking the Ontario government to:

  • Release a plan, with dates and sectors, for the next phases for reopening the provincial economy
  • Provide WSIB rebates this year so that surplus funds are returned to the employers who paid them
  • Freeze all audits across government
  • Eliminate burdensome red tape to help businesses recover

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.