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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

Phase 1 of Ontario's reopening plan will began on Tuesday, May 19th at 12:01am. Several businesses, including retail operations with street-level entrances, construction, dog groomers and cleaning services will be allowed to resume operations under health and safety guidelines. Here is a full list of Phase 1 openings.

Golf courses, marinas and private parks and campgrounds were be allowed to resume some operations on Saturday, May 16th at 12:01am.

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.

Ontario State of Emergency

Ontario's emergency order has been extended through June 9, 2020. The Government of Ontario declared all non-essential businesses must close by 11:59 pm on March 24, 2020. 

Please consult this page to determine if your business is on the essential services list.

If you are unsure if you are an essential business, please call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

Support for businesses

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.

To be eligible for the program, commercial renters must demonstrate a 70 per cent or greater drop in revenue (either year-over-year or compared to average revenues for January and February of 2020) and pay less than $50,000 in monthly rent.

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 half (25% of the total).

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 an end to Time-of-Use electricity pricing during the COVID-19 outbreak. Effective immediately, electricity will be priced at "low-peak" - 10.1 cents/kwh - at all hours of the day until May 31, 2020.

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
  • Freeze evictions for commercial tenants and provide rent relief and certainty for commercial tenants and landlords
  • Provide WSIB rebates this year so that surplus funds are returned to the employers who paid them
  • Freeze all audits across government

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.