Learn about changes to government programs and available supports as your business recovers from COVID-19.
Applications now open: Ontario Small Business Support Grant
Applications are now open for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which helps small businesses that are required to close or significantly restrict services under the new Provincewide Shutdown effective December 26, 2020.
With this new one-time grant, small businesses will be able to recover some of their expected lost revenue, starting at $10,000 and up to a maximum of $20,000.
Rebates for PPE, property taxes and energy bills
Starting November 16, businesses that are or were required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures (in areas under Red-Control, Grey-Lockdown, Provincewide Shutdown or previously under “modified Stage 2” restrictions) can apply for rebates to help with fixed costs, such as PPE, property tax and energy bills. Find out if your business is eligible.
covid 19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB)
We are providing $8 million to support small businesses and charitable organizations who are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of covid 19.
Starting in January 2021, available credit amounts increased and more businesses became eligible to access funding. Customers may be eligible for up to $1500 towards their electricity and natural gas bills.
Contact your electricity and/or natural gas utility to apply.
Pausing commercial evictions
We are temporarily stopping or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during covid 19. This applies to businesses that were eligible for the previous Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses program or who have been approved for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS).
Pension contribution deferral and extension
If you're an employer who sponsers certain defined benefit pension plans, you can defer pension contributions due between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. You must file an application (called an "election") and pay deferred contributions, with interest and following a set schedule, by March 31, 2022.
For contributions to be eligible for deferral, plans must:
- be single-employer, private-sector defined benefit pension plans
- not already benefit from existing special relief measures
You can only defer contributions if they are up to date with any existing contribution requirements.
To ensure you use the funds made available by deferring contributions to maintain your business operations, you will be restricted from:
- paying out dividends or buying back shares
- increasing previously established debt repayments
- increasing executive compensation or paying executive bonuses
- making loans or advances to shareholders or executives or entities related to them
- engaging in business that provides advantageous terms to a related party, such as a parent company
These restrictions will no longer apply after you've made all deferred contributions.
Catch-up contribution extension
As in any year, you may be required to make a catch-up contribution after a valuation report is filed for your pension plan, depending on how much was contributed to the plan before the report was filed.
You have 120 days (instead of the usual 60 days) to pay any catch-up contributions on valuation reports filed on or before April 1, 2020. You do not need to submit an election (application) to get the extension.
Employer Health Tax relief
We permanently increased the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption from $490,000 to $1 million.
Along with doubling the exemption, we doubled the instalment threshold from $600,000 to $1.2 million starting with the 2021 tax year.
What this means for you
As an employer, this means relief of up to $9,945 per year.
The annual tax return form is not changing. Only the amount that you enter for the exemption claimed will change. Eligibility for the tax exemption and tax rates remain the same.
Starting in 2021, all employers will begin remitting monthly instalments when their annual payroll exceeds $1.2 million.
If your business no longer needs to make instalment payments or file an EHT return as a result of the increased exemption amount or instalment threshold, you do not need to notify the Ministry of Finance.
Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit
If your corporation is building, renovating or acquiring an eligible commercial or industrial building in a designated region in Ontario, you may be eligible to claim a tax credit of up to $45,000 in a year.
The tax credit will be available to claim on your corporate income tax return.
Guidance for employers
Your responsibilities and employee protections
Learn about employers' responsibilities, and get information about job protections available to employees including:
- leaves of absence
- taking vacation time
- temporary layoffs
- filing a claim
Show your commitment to safety
Consider making the POST Promise – a self-declaration that your business is working to help prevent the spread of covid 19. Once completed, you’ll get tools to help educate employees on workplace safety. You can also display the POST Promise logo, which is a nationally recognized symbol of a business’s commitment to doing their part.
Find PPE suppliers
Access the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to find personal protective equipment for your business.
Sector-specific guidance and posters
Develop your covid 19 workplace safety plan
Learn how you can create a plan to help protect your workers and others from covid 19.
Other helpful resources
- Learn how to organize a private covid 19 testing campaign at your workplace for asymptomatic individuals who are ineligible for testing under the covid 19 Provincial Testing Guidance.
- From the Government of Canada:
- Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses: covid 19 Small Business Help Centre
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce: Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit for covid 19 (PDF)
- Retail Council of Canada: Road to Retail Recovery Playbook
Help from the federal government
The Canadian government has made available supports for business during covid 19.
Mental health and addictions supports
If you or your employees are feeling anxious, experiencing other mental health or addiction challenges or you can’t access your regular in-person counselling support, there are services you can access online or by phone, including self-led support, peer support and internet-based cognitive behavioural therapy.Find mental health support
If you are currently receiving mental health and addictions services and supports, please contact your current service provider, including community-based mental health and addictions agencies. Many of these providers are modifying their services to move towards virtual care, meeting clients by phone or secure video-conferencing.
How you can help
Cut red tape for your business
We want to hear from you on the issues you’re dealing with as a business owner or representative. Tell us how we can reduce the regulatory burden to help make your business more competitive and support your investment in Ontario.