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

New Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program to support many of the businesses that are most impacted by public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

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.

Setting up an employer-led vaccine clinic

To increase the province’s booster vaccination capacity, business groups and large corporate employers may open workplace and community clinics to vaccinate:

  • employees aged 18 and older, their families and retirees
  • members of local and neighbouring communities

Criteria

If you are an employer interested in hosting a clinic, you must meet the following criteria:

  • provide your own Human and Health Resources (onsite or contracted nurses, doctors or other regulated health professionals who can administer vaccines)
  • have a facility, or can arrange for an alternative facility in the community, such as a community hall or warehouse, to run a vaccine clinic safely
  • offer vaccination to eligible workers and community members

As the employer, you must be willing to take on the responsibility of setting up, operating and funding the vaccination clinic.

Learn more

If you meet the criteria, please call the Ontario Together Contact Centre at 1-888-777-0554 to learn more about hosting a clinic at your business or community facility.

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

Rapid antigen testing

Your organization can now conduct rapid antigen testing as an additional screening method that can help stop the spread of covid 19. Free test kits are available through the Provincial Antigen Screening Program, which has expanded to include more essential sectors.

Learn about testing and program eligibility

In addition, the Ontario government, in partnership with the federal government and the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, has launched the covid 19 Rapid Screening Initiative for small and medium-sized businesses across the province.

To contact participating local chambers of commerce and boards of trade about the covid 19 Rapid Screening Initiative, visit the Ontario Chamber of Commerce.

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

  • Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant

    The government is announcing an Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant for small businesses that are subject to closure under the modified Step Two of Roadmap to Reopen.

    What you'll get

    Eligible businesses subject to closures as a result of the province’s move to the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen will receive a grant of $10,000.

    Eligibility

    To receive the grant, a small business identified from the eligible list below must:

    • be required to close due to public health orders that took effect 12:01 a.m. on January 5, 2022
    • have fewer than 100 employees as of December 31, 2021
    • be an active business as of January 14, 2022

    Eligible businesses that previously qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will be pre-screened to verify eligibility and may need to provide some additional information but will not need to apply for the new program.

    Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply once the application portal opens in the coming weeks. Small businesses that qualify can expect to receive their payment in the coming weeks.

    Eligible small businesses include:

    • restaurants and bars
    • facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms)
    • performing arts and cinemas
    • museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
    • performing arts venues and cinemas, museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
    • meeting or event spaces
    • tour and guide services
    • conference centres and convention centres
    • driving instruction for individuals
    • before- and after- school programs

    How to apply

    Applications for the Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant will be open in the coming weeks.

  • Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program: applications now open

    We are introducing the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program to support businesses that are most impacted by provincial public health measures in response to the Omicron variant of COVID-19.

    Apply for the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program

    What you’ll get

    Eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity will receive rebate payments for a portion of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to these measures. Eligible businesses required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs, while businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs. Payments to eligible businesses will be retroactive to December 19, 2021 when public health measures were first effective.

    Eligibility

    Eligible businesses include:

    • restaurants and bars
    • personal care services (hair or body)
    • retailers (non-grocery, less than 50,000 square feet)
    • small grocery stores (less than 5,000 square feet)
    • gyms and other indoor sports and recreational facilities
    • places of worship
    • indoor meeting and event spaces
    • indoor concert venues, theatres and cinemas
    • casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments
    • indoor portion of horse and car racing tracks
    • indoor museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
    • indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities
    • indoor business associated with tour and guide services
    • steam rooms and saunas
    • oxygen bars
    • bathhouses and sex clubs
    • indoor teaching and instruction centres
    • indoor driving instruction centres
    • day camps and overnight camps for children
    • before- and after-school programs
    • pet and veterinary services

    Further details can be found in the program guide. Learn more here (PDF).

    How to apply

    Online applications for this program are now open. Apply now here.

    Businesses will be required to submit proof of costs associated with property tax and energy bills as part of the application process.

    If you have questions about the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program, call ServiceOntario at 1-855-216-3090.

  • 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.

Tax relief

  • Improving cash flows for Ontario businesses

    We are providing additional support to help improve cash flows for Ontario businesses by providing a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. This will:

    • support businesses in the immediate term while capacity restrictions are in place
    • provide the flexibility Ontario businesses will need for long-term planning
    The six-month period started on January 1, 2022 and will end on July 1, 2022. This measure will make available up to $7.5 billion in relief to help approximately 80,000 Ontario businesses. Businesses will have the option to delay their payments for the following provincially administered taxes:
    • Employer Health Tax
    • Beer, Wine & Spirits Taxes
    • Tobacco TaxInsurance Premium Tax
    • Fuel Tax
    • International Fuel Tax Agreement
    • Gas Tax
    • Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts and Benefit Plans
    • Mining Tax
    • Race Tracks Tax
  • Employer Health Tax relief

    We increased the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption from $490,000 to $1 million starting in 2020.

    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 additional EHT relief of up to $9,945 per year, for a total of up to $19,500 in annual EHT savings per eligible employer.

    The annual tax return form is not changing. Only the amount that you enter for the exemption claimed will change. Tax rates and eligibility criteria for the tax exemption remain the same.

    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 $90,000 in a year.

    In the 2021 Budget, Ontario announced that it will temporarily enhance this tax credit by investing an additional $61 million, resulting in total tax credit support of about $155 million by 2022–23.

    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.

  • Jobs Training Tax Credit

    The temporary Ontario Jobs Training Tax Credit will help workers get the training they need.

    It will provide up to $2,000 to individuals with eligible training expenses in 2021. This measure would provide about $260 million in support to 230,000 Ontario individuals.

    Learn more about the tax credit.

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

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.