The Government of Ontario has released A Framework for Reopening Our Province. This framework outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces.
The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development released new safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as we prepare for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.
They build on the 60+ guidelines developed by Ontario’s Health and Safety Associations in response to COVID-19 for various sectors such as retail, health care, construction, transportation, police services, firefighters, and transit employees.
Click Learn More for the sector-specific guidelines and posters.
Before your business reopens, review sector-specific guidelines to identify personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to keep your employees and customers safe. Supplies are in high demand and the needs of frontline health care workers and first responders will continue to be prioritized.
Click here to review a list of companies that sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to keep your employees and customers safe from COVID-19.
The Government of Ontario has launched a new website intended to harness the resources and innovation of Ontario’s business community to help respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. The new $50 million Ontario Together Fund will support the development of essential equipment and supplies.
Please click the button above if your business or organization can provide medical products such as ventilators, swabs, masks, and eye protection, or to submit any other ideas, products, or services that could help Ontarians.
If you need any help making an online submission, please call 1-888-777-0554.
Once you submit you will get a reference number – please contact my office with this reference number and we will assist you.
The Government of Canada has partnered with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada, EY and Imagine Canada to launch the Business Resilience Service (BRS). The BRS will provide options for any vulnerable small to medium-sized business, not-for-profit or charity to immediately connect with experienced accounting and tax professionals across the country from professional services firms.
The program, delivered to organizations free of charge, will provide guidance on program options and eligibility, direct businesses to appropriate support organizations, assist organizational decision-making to support recovery plans, and provide feedback to policymakers.
The BRS program, coordinated by EY, begins on May 25 and will be provided for four weeks. Organizations can access the BRS seven days a week by calling 1-866-989-1080.
CANADA EMERGENCY WAGE SUBSIDY
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Covering 75% of employees’ wages on the first $58,700 earned, for qualifying businesses and organizations. This subsidy will be retroactive to March 15, 2020, and will apply for 3 months.
CEWS will be extended until August 29, 2020.
Businesses now have more flexibility in terms of which monthly figures they compare to.
One option is the change in an eligible employer’s monthly revenues, year-over-year, for the calendar month in which the period began. For example, comparing March 2020 to March 2019.
The second option is to compare revenue using an average of their revenue earned in January and February 2020.
Employers can select either approach when first applying to the CEWS but are required to use the same approach for the duration of the program.
There are 3 periods of eligibility, and the first one is from March 15 to April 11. For this first period, the required reduction in revenue is now 15%, and for subsequent periods is 30%.
Once an employer is found eligible for a specific period, the employer automatically qualifies for the next period.
Maximum benefit of $847 per employee/week.
Employers are encouraged to contribute the other 25% of employees’ wages if they are able.
Eligible employers can apply through their Canada Revenue Agency ‘My Business’ account or through a separate online portal. Please contact the CRA’s business telephone line, 1-800-959-5525 if you require assistance.
Employers will receive money from the program beginning May 7, through direct deposit. Companies who have not signed up for direct deposit with the CRA may have to wait longer for money to arrive.
Effective March 15, 2020, to March 14, 2021, and not limited to one specific sector or industry, the Government of Canada is introducing temporary special measures to the Work-Sharing Program:
Extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.
A mandatory cooling-off period has been waived for employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program so that eligible employers may immediately enter into a new agreement.
Reduce the previous requirements for a Recovery Plan to a single line of text in the application form.
Reduce the requirement and expand eligibility to employers affected by accepting business who have been in business for only 1 year rather than 2, and eliminate the burden of having to provide sales/production figures at the same time.
Expand eligibility for staff who are essential to recovery, Government Business Enterprises (GBEs) and non-for-profit organization employers.
The Government of Ontario is partnering with the Government of Canada to provide more than $900 million of urgent relief for small businesses and landlords affected by the COVID-19 outbreak through the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA). This program will lower rental costs for eligible small business tenants by 75% for April, May, and June 2020.
The provincial and federal governments will provide forgivable loans equivalent to 50% of the payable rent to eligible property owners. Of the remaining rental cost, 25% will be covered by the tenant and 25% will be covered by the landlord.
To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75%. The loan would also be contingent on the signing of a rent forgiveness agreement between impacted tenants and landlords, which would include a moratorium on evictions for three months.
OCECRA will be administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and will be available until September 30, 2020. Support will be retroactive to April 1, covering April, May and June 2020.
An eligible small business tenant is one that:
Pays monthly rent not exceeding $50,000 in gross rent payments, and
Is a non-essential small business that has temporarily closed or
Experiencing a 70 percent drop in revenues from pre-COVID-19 levels.
"To measure revenue loss, small businesses can compare revenues in April, May and June of 2020 to that of the same month of 2019. They can also use an average of their revenues earned in January and February of 2020" - CHMC website
(determined by comparing revenues in April, May or June of 2020 to either the same month in 2019 or compared to average revenues for January and February 2020).
Not-for-profit organizations and charitable entities will be considered for the program.
The application process opened on May 25, 2020. Eligible property owners in Ontario with up to 10 tenants can register on Tuesdays. All other eligible property owners in Ontario can register on Wednesdays, and all property owners across Canada can register on Fridays.
For property owners without a mortgage, there will be an alternative mechanism for obtaining support.
Effective immediately, Ontario will allow takeout and delivery of alcohol with a food order from licensed restaurants and bars; no application process or fee required.
The holder of the liquor sales licence is accountable for the responsible sale and delivery of alcohol. This includes making sure the person to whom the order is delivered is at least 19 years old and is not intoxicated. The licensee or its staff involved in the delivery of alcohol must have successfully completed Smart Serve training. Instances where the delivery is being carried out by a third party on behalf of the licensee, Smart Serve certification is required by April 25, 2020.
ALLOWING 24/7 DELIVERIES
All businesses may accept 24/7 deliveries to help ensure important goods - such as food, medication, and essential household items – can be delivered as efficiently as possible, without the restrictions of municipal noise by-laws. This will help keep shelves stocked with necessary food and medication, and help our supply chain operate quickly during this crisis.
AGRICULTURE INDUSTRY JOB SUPPORT PORTAL
Launched a new website aimed at individuals seeking a job in the agri-food industry and the chance to make a difference during this COVID-19 outbreak. The portal highlights employment openings and training resources in Ontario’s agriculture and food sector.
This online portal provides access to information on exciting job opportunities right across Ontario’s food supply chain – from grocery retailers to bakeries and cheese factories, to opportunities on farms and in transportation, and many more.
SAFETY TOOL KIT
The Government of Ontario has released a first-of-its-kind general workplace guidance document to help all employers protect workers from the spread of COVID-19 in the workplace.
This new guidance includes help on how to create a safety plan, including specific advice on personal protective equipment and the use of face masks. It also includes a list of controls, from most important to least important, that employers can take to minimize the spread of the virus.
Providing flexibility to businesses who may find it challenging to meet their tax obligations.
The Federal Government has allowed taxpayers to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
DEFERRING PROVINCIAL TAXES
Providing a five-month interest and penalty-free period to make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.
Tax filing and remittance deadlines will remain the same. However, between April 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020, penalties and interest will not apply to Ontario businesses that miss any filing or remittance deadline under select provincial taxes. This will continue for a period of five months.
The following provincial taxes are included in the relief period:
Employer Health Tax
Beer, Wine & Spirits Tax
Insurance Premium Tax
International Fuel Tax Agreement
Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts and Benefit Plans
Race Tracks Tax
If you have any questions, please contact: 1-866-ONT-TAXS (1-866-668-8297) or clickherefor more information.
HST PAYMENT DEFERRAL
Deferring HST payments for small and medium-sized businesses until June, freeing up an additional $30 billion for businesses.
EDUCATION PROPERTY TAX DEFERRAL
The Government of Ontario is providing municipalities with the option to defer the education property tax payment they make to school boards for 90 days. Reach out to your local municipality to make sure they are taking advantage of this.
This would defer the June 30th quarterly municipal remittance to school boards which provides municipalities with the flexibility, in turn, to provide over $1.8 billion in property tax deferral to residents and businesses.
EXPANDING EMPLOYER HEALTH TAX EXEMPTION
Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to theEmployer Health Tax (EHT) exemption for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million and a 5 month relief period for Ontario businesses who are unable to file or remit their provincial taxes on time due to the special circumstances caused by the coronavirus (COVID‑19) in Ontario.
REGIONAL OPPORTUNITIES INVESTMENT TAX CREDIT
Providing a 10% refundable Corporate Income Tax credit for eligible businesses that build, renovate or acquire qualifying commercial and industrial buildings in designated regions of the province, of up to $45,000. The tax credit would be available for expenditures in excess of $50,000 and up to a limit of $500,000 for qualifying investments that become available for use by a Canadian-controlled private corporation in the taxation year.
Please click here to view a list of eligible regions.
DEFERRING WSIB PAYMENTS
Providing up to $1.9 billion in financial relief by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments for up to six months (until August 31, 2020).
The deferred premiums will amount to an average of $1,760 for approximately 275,000 Ontario businesses. Businesses are not required to inform the WSIB that they will take advantage of this financial relief package. In addition, WSIB will cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments. They will not charge penalties during this six-month period. Be assured that WSIB will continue to fully cover workers at eligible workplaces.
All employers covered by WSIB are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package; there is no need to opt-in to receive this benefit.
REDUCING ELECTRICITY BILLS
Ontario is introducing a fixed, flat “COVID-19 Recovery Rate” for residential, farm and small business electricity consumers. This new rate of 12.8 cents per kWh will apply from June 1 to October 31, 2020.
Ontario is also investing $8 million in the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business to support those struggling to pay their electricity bills.
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)
The Government of Canada will establish the LEEFF to provide bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers who are not able to meet their needs through conventional financing. This will allow Canada’s largest businesses and their suppliers to remain active during this difficult time, and position them for a rapid economic recovery. Companies applying for financing through LEEFF must satisfy a number of rules and requirements.
Loan Guarantee For Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises
EDC is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.
Co-Lending Program For Small And Medium-Sized Enterprises
BDC is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements.
Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.
REGIONAL RELIEF AND RECOVERY FUND
The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) provides financial contributions (interest-free loans) to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Fund, valued at more than $962 million nationally, is delivered by Canada’s six regional development agencies.
In southern Ontario, $252.4 million is available as follows:
$213 million for SMEs facing financial pressure supporting southern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been declined for, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures.; and
$39.4 million to provide rural businesses with access to capital and business support, delivered by southern Ontario’s Community Futures Development Corporations.
Click here to learn more about the eligibility and next steps for the application.
BANK OF CANADA INTEREST RATE REDUCTION
On March 27th, the Bank of Canada lowered interest rates to 0.25%, down from 0.75% announced on March 13.
FARM CREDIT CANADA (FCC) COVID-19 SUPPORT PROGRAM
Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has put in place:
a deferral of principal and interest payments up to six months for existing loans; or
a deferral of principal payments up to 12 months
access to an additional credit line up to $500,000, secured by general security agreements or universal movable hypothec (Québec only)
Lending Loop has implemented a temporary hardship program for borrowers that are currently distressed as a result of impacts of COVID-19. This program will allow Lending Loop clients that meet certain criteria to make interest-only payments on their loans for a period of 3 months to accommodate this unexpected event.
SUPPORT FOR INDUSTRIAL AND COMMERCIAL ELECTRICITY CONSUMERS
The Government of Ontario is deferring a portion of Global Adjustment (GA) charges for industrial and commercial electricity consumers that do not participate in the Regulated Price Plan (RPP), starting from April 2020. The government intends to keep this relief in place until June 2020, subject to necessary extensions and approvals to implement this initiative. Without this action, a small industrial or commercial consumer could have seen bills increase by 15 per cent or more.
The Government of Canada will invest more than $250 million through a series of new programs to support farmers, food businesses, and food processors. This includes:
Launching a national AgriRecovery initiative of up to $125 million in funding to help producers faced with additional costs incurred by COVID-19.
Creating a $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund to help food producers adapt to changing health protocols, procure PPE, and respond to emerging pressures from COVID-19.
Launching a Surplus Food Purchase Program with an initial $50 million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories to local food organizations who are serving vulnerable Canadians.
The Government of Canada is providing $30 million in FedDev Ontario RRRF funding to the Tourism Industry Association of Ontario (TIAO). This will provide financial relief to destination marketing organizations (DMOs) across southern Ontario that has experienced significant revenue shortfalls.
Applications can be submitted online starting June 5. For more information on how to apply, visit www.tiaontario.ca
Digital Main Street is a non-profit organization that helps small businesses connect with digital technologies, tools and service providers. These digital resources may be essential to the success of your business during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Digital Main Street can assist you with a wide range of tools and services, including e-commerce platforms, websites, social media, and much more.
They offer an online learning platform, digital resources and workshops, and a Digital Service Squad who will work with your business one-on-one to help meet your digital needs.
There is no cost to join Digital Main Street, and all businesses can receive a free Digital Assessment.
Digital Main Street is supported by companies well versed in digital technologies, including Google, MasterCard, Microsoft and Shopify.