COVID-19: Help for businesses in Ontario

Learn about changes to government programs and available supports as your business recovers from covid 19.

Featured updates

Coming soon: Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant. This grant will help eligible small businesses in the tourism and hospitality sector.

Find out if your business is eligible for grants to help with the cost of your property taxes and energy bills.

Learn about opening an onsite vaccination clinic if your business is in a hot spot community.

Read our most recent news releases on business and the economy.

Reopening and operating safely

We’ve provided resources to help you understand the requirements and best practices for workplace safety. These actions can help you comply with the rules and keep operating safely.

Workplace safety plan

All businesses that are operating must have a written covid 19 safety plan by law. Find other resources such as posters, tools and sector-specific guidance for Ontario workplaces.

Employer’s responsibilities

Understand employers’ responsibilities regarding safe workplaces, temporary layoffs and leaves of absence due to covid 19. Attend a webinar to learn more.

Region-specific rules

Check the recovery framework and your public health unit website to learn about the restrictions and rules that apply to your region.

PPE suppliers

Access the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to find supplies for your business.

Skip to more guidance for employers
People working at a warehouse assembly line wearing masks, face shields and gloves

For businesses with fewer than 100 employees

Visit small business recovery resources for more tailored information, including:
  • Small Business Enterprise Centres near you
  • Taking your business digital
  • Learning opportunities and free advice
  • Support and resources from Canada and national organizations
Visit small business recovery resources

Financial relief

  • 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).

    Learn more about temporary eviction rules.

  • Pension contribution deferral and extension

    Deferring contributions

    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.

    Find out more information on pension contribution deferrals, restrictions and how to apply.

Tax relief

  • 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.

    Learn more about the EHT changes for 2021.

  • 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.

    Learn more about the tax credit and if your project qualifies.

Guidance for employers

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

  • Setting up an onsite workplace clinic

    To supplement publicly run vaccination clinics, employers may open onsite clinics in hot spot communities to vaccinate:

    • employees aged 18 and older who cannot work from home
    • members of the local and neighbouring communities

    To make sure employer-run onsite clinics are consistent with local vaccination plans:

    • they can only be set up with the support of local public health units
    • local public health units will determine who can be vaccinated at onsite clinics

    If you are an employer interested in hosting an onsite clinic, you must meet the following criteria.

    Your workplace
    • is in designated hot-spot community
    • has had a previous covid 19 outbreak or is at risk of one
    The clinic
    • will vaccinate employees who cannot work at home
    • will vaccinate people in the local community, either at the onsite clinic or an alternative location set up in consultation with the local public health unit
    • must have the local public health unit’s support
    • will take on the responsibility of setting up, operating and funding the onsite vaccination clinic and any community clinics
    Learn more

    If you meet the criteria, email to learn more about hosting an onsite clinic at your workplace.

  • Supply products and solve problems

    If your small business or organization has products, services or solutions that can help support our response to covid 19, please tell us through our Ontario Together initiative.

  • Help stop the spread by promoting the COVID Alert app

    Download the COVID Alert app and get free marketing materials for your website, print promotions, social media and more.

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.