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.
Ontario State of Emergency
The Government of Ontario declared all non-essential businesses must close by 11:59 pm on March 24, 2020. The closure will last for a minimum of 14 days. On April 3, 2020, the Government of Ontario updated its essential businesses list. The new list will take effect at 11:59PM on Saturday, April 4, 2020.
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
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
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 for the next 45 days.
Support for self-employed
The government of Ontario has indicated that there will be supports for the self-employed; however, there are no details at this time.
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.
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:
- Implement a provincial wage subsidy to keep employees on payrolls and avoid layoffs
- 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
- Encourage municipalities to waive interest and penalty fees for any late property tax payments
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.