COVID-19 - Business Support
Town of Fort Erie
The Town of Fort Erie has waived late fees, penalties and charges effective March 23, 2020 until June 30, 2020 for water billings and taxes levied in 2020. Water services shall not be disconnected by the Town of Fort Erie for non-payment of water and wastewater billings until June 30, 2020. Further, no late fees will be imposed on business licenses and payment will be waived for on-street and municipal parking.
The Town of Fort Erie is working hard to connect Fort Erie businesses to their consumers. Using Geographical Information System (GIS) technology, Town Staff has developed an interactive map called the Fort Erie Business Availability Map (FEBAM). FEBAM gives a local business the ability to claim and update its business profile to include important information such as business status (open/closed), hours of operation, delivery and curbside pick-ups, etc. If your business cannot be found in the directory or if you’re having trouble updating the status of your business, please contact Daniel Turner, economic development officer, at email@example.com or 905-871-1600 ext. 2252.
Town of Fort Erie Guide: How to Bring Your Business Online
Venture Niagara Regional Relief & Recovery Fund – This fund will assist sole proprietors and "main street" businesses who have been unable to access any other Government of Canada COVID-19 related funding. Eligible applicants will receive a loan of up to $40,000 with 0% interest and no principal payments until December 31, 2022.
Government of Canada
Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Support to Business
Business Resilience Service – In partnership with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, the Government of Canada has launched the Business Resilience Service - a hotline that SMEs, not-for-profits and charities can call for free tax and accounting advice to help them navigate uncertainty and plan their recovery. To access the BRS call 1-866-989-1080 to connect with a business advisor from the accounting profession. The service is available 7 days/week from 8am – 8pm ET.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) – To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, this taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to 24 weeks for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). In order to be eligible, workers cannot have earned more than $1,000 in employment and/or self-employment income within the entire four-week benefit period of a new claim. The portal for accessing the CERB is now open. You may apply online with CRA My Account or over the phone with automated phone service. It is encouraged to create a CRA My Account and to elect for direct deposit in order to streamline the process.
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) – This program will provide up to $25 billion to eligible financial institutions so that they can provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 for small businesses and non-profits. The program includes two eligibility streams:
Payroll Stream: businesses with an annual payroll of between $20,000 and $1.5 million in 2019.
Expenses Stream: businesses eligible for CEBA now include owner-operated small businesses that do not have a payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll. Applicants will have to demonstrate having eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1,500,000 in 2020.
The loan is interest-free until December 31, 2022. Up to $10,000 of this loan is eligible for complete forgiveness if 75% of the loan is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) – The program has been developed to share the cost between small business tenants and landlords. Small business tenants and landlords would each be asked to pay 25% of the before profit costs and the provincial and federal government would cost-share the remaining 50%. 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%. CECRA has been extended through the end of July 2020. If a business had an average revenue decline of 70% or more in April, May and June, they are deemed eligible for the additional month of rent relief.
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) – Support for businesses facing revenue losses and to help prevent layoffs. Eligible small and medium-sized businesses can receive support for up to 24 weeks equal to 75% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week. The benefit is retroactive from March 15, 2020 to August 29, 2020. This subsidy would be available to eligible employers that see a drop in gross revenue of at least 15% in March 2020 and 30% for the following months. There is no limit on the number of employees per employer. The portal for applications is open as of April 27, 2020. Employers should register for a CRA My Business Account if they are not already signed up. Employers can also use this CRA tool to calculate their estimated subsidy amount in advance of submitting their application.
Temporary Wage Subsidy – This 10% wage subsidy is a three-month measure from March 18, 2020 that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the CRA. This is a separate program from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy which provides a 75% wage subsidy. You do not need to apply for this 10% subsidy. You will continue deducting income tax, CPP contributions, and EI premiums from salary, wages, bonuses, or other remuneration paid to your employees, as you currently do. The subsidy is calculated when you remit these amounts to the CRA. Once you have calculated your subsidy, you can reduce your current payroll remittance of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax that you send to the CRA by the amount of the subsidy.
Temporary salary top-up for low-income essential workers – The Federal Government is working with provinces and territories through a new transfer to cost-share a temporary top-up to the salaries of low-income workers (those who earn less than $2,500 per month on a full-time basis), that the provinces and territories have deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19. This will provide a much-needed boost to those on the front-line in hospitals, those caring for seniors in long-term care facilities, those working so hard to make sure that there is food on our shelves and tables, and others. More details will be released shortly.
Support for Indigenous Businesses – The government of Ontario is providing up to $10 million to Indigenous-owned small and medium sized businesses to help them with much needed capital as the province begins to safely and gradually reopen the economy. Loans of up to $50,000 will be available to businesses that are either ineligible for, or unable to access, existing federal and provincial COVID-19 response initiatives for small businesses. Loans will be available through Aboriginal Financial Institutions. Up to 50% of each loan will be in the form of a non-repayable grant, with no interest due on the loan portion until December 31, 2022. Businesses may use these funds to cover general expenses such as payroll, rent, utilities and taxes.
Business Credit Availability Program – Export Development Canada (EDC) will provide a guarantee to financial institutions, giving businesses access to additional credit for payroll and operational costs. EDC is actively working with partners to make this solution available as quickly as possible. Available for all Canadian companies, including non-exporting businesses that sell domestically.
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Co-Lending Program – BDC partners with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to businesses for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain Differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues, up to $6.25 million, 80% of which would be provided by BDC, with the remaining 20% provided by the financial institution.
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) – The Government of Canada is providing bridge financing to Canada's largest employers in order to keep their operations going. LEEFF will provide support to employers with annual revenues of more than $300 million whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing.
Futurepreneur Canada – The Government of Canada is injecting $20.1 million through Futurpreneur Canada to support ongoing lending to young entrepreneurs aged 18-39.
National Research Council Canada - Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP) – The Federal Government is investing $250 million through IRAP to support innovative firms that do not yet have revenue or are in the early stages of development are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. IRAP provides advice, connections, and funding to help Canadian small and medium-sized businesses increase their innovation capacity and take ideas to market.
Flexibility for Filing Taxes – The CRA will allow all businesses to defer, until August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020, and before September 2020. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
GST/HST Payments – The CRA and CBSA are allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of GST/HST, as well as customs duties owning on their imports.
Province of Ontario
Ontario Easing Restrictions – Effective Friday, June 12, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the province will increase the limit on social gatherings from five to 10 people across the province, regardless of whether a region has moved to Stage 2. Additionally, all places of worship in Ontario will also be permitted to open with physical distancing in place and attendance limited to no more than 30 per cent of the building capacity to ensure the safety of worshippers.
Reopening Ontario After COVID-19 – Ontario's framework for reopening businesses, services and public spaces.
Health and Safety Guidance Documents for Workplaces – In partnership with the Provincial government, Ontario’s health and safety associations have released sector-specific safety guidelines to protect workers, customers, and the general public from COVID-19 as Ontario prepares to gradually reopen the economy. Additional workplace safety guidelines for more sectors will be brought forward in the coming days and weeks.
Agri-Food Open for E-Business – The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $2.5 million to help food producers, farmers markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries, and agricultural associations develop online business, providing consumers with greater access to a wide variety of food and agriculture products.
This targeted application intake features two funding streams:
- Bring Your Business Online. Eligible organizations and businesses can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to establish an online e-business and marketing presence. Funding under this stream will be quick and responsive for those needing immediate solutions.
- Develop Online Business Opportunities. Eligible organizations, businesses and collaborations can apply for cost-share funding of up to $75,000 to implement high-impact projects.
Employment Standards Amendment Act (Infections Disease Emergencies) – The Ontario Legislature has passed the Employment Standards Amendment Act to provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away to care for children because of school or daycare closures or to care for other relatives.
Employer Health Tax – The Ontario government is increasing the Employer Health Tax Exemption for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million and a five-month relief period for Ontario businesses who are unable to file or remit their provincial taxes on time due to COVID-19.
WSIB Ontario – All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial relief package. This means that businesses can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. This premium deferral impacts businesses who report and pay monthly, quarterly or annually based on their insurable earnings. Additionally, no interest will accrue on outstanding premium payments and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period.
Support for Families – The Government of Ontario has announced the new Support for Families initiative which offers a one-time payment of $200 per child 0 to 12 years of age, and $250 for those 0 to 21 years of age with special needs.
Employment & Social Development Canada – Employment insurance sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement for those who are unable to work due to illness or quarantine. The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants.
Ontario Program Helps Hospitality Workers & Apprentices – The Government of Ontario is launching a new online portal for counselling and virtual job training to support laid off and unemployed hospitality workers. The province also announced funding for the motive power, construction and industrial, and service sector trades to help new eligible apprentices purchase equipment.
Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) – This program provides employers with direct financial support of up to $10,000 per person to train new and existing employees. Employers with 100 or more employees need to contribute 1/2 of the training costs. Small employers with less than 100 employees need to contribute 1/6 of training costs. The training has to be delivered by an eligible, third-party trainer.
Work Sharing Program – The program provides Employment Insurance (EI) benefits to top off the wages (based on an EI formula) to eligible employees who agree to reduce their normal working hours and share the available work while their employer recovers. As part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 response, the maximum length of a work-sharking agreement has been doubled from 38 to 76 weeks and processing time has been reduced from 30 days to 10 days. Employees on a Work-Sharing agreement must agree to a reduced schedule of work and to share the available work over a specified period of time.
Temporary Changes to Canada Summer Jobs Program – Employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees who hire young people aged 15 to 30 years of age and have applied to the program can receive up to 100% of the provincial minimum hourly wage for each employee. The call for 2020 applications closed in February. Applicants will be informed of the status of their application in May.
Online Portal to Match Available Health Care Workers with Employers – The new Health Workforce Matching Portal will enable health care providers with a range of experience to join the province's response to COVID-19. Those providers include retired or non-active health care professionals, internationally educated health care professionals, students, and volunteers with health care experience. The portal will efficiently match the availability and skillsets of frontline health care workers to the employers in need of assistance to perform a variety of public health functions, such as case and contact management.
Online Portal for Agri-Food Job Opportunities – The Government of Ontario is launching a new web portal, connecting workers with employers looking to fill positions in the agri-food sector. This new online tool will make it easier to match people to essential jobs and training resources throughout the provincial food supply chain.
Keeping Food Supply Chain Workers Safe – The Federal Government is providing support to help farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers, put in place the measures necessary to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad. The Government will provide support of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to employers or those working with them to ensure requirements are fully met. The funding is conditional on employers not being found in violation of the mandatory isolation. There is an exemption for temporary foreign workers from travel restrictions to Canada, along with other foreigners with student and work visas, provided they adhere to a strict 14-day isolation protocol upon arrival.
Ontario Works Social Assistance Programs – Employment Ontario providers are continuing to provide services to employers, their employees, and job seekers throughout these unprecedented times. All EO agencies in Niagara are open for virtual business. Services/supports that EO are continuing to provide include:
• Assisting employers struggling with staff shortages – as workforce is depleted due to child care/school closures and sick leave.
• Providing guidance to those workers seeking to file online EI claims.
• Assistance with providing consultation to employee groups being temporarily laid off – seeking basic need supports, mental health services/referrals and the like. All EO agencies are well versed in community supports that employees may need to access during the lay off period.
John Howard Society Niagara Job Gym Welland & Fort Erie
Deanna Villella, Manager
CERF Niagara (Francophone Provider for Niagara Region)
Industry & Supply Chain Resources
Prime Minister announces Canada’s Plan to Mobilize Industry to fight COVID-19
MaRS – Global Supply Chain Management During CODI-19: useful resources list
Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters – COVID-19 Resources
Business Preparedness Toolkits
Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Pandemic Preparedness for Business
Ontario Chamber of Commerce – Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit
World Health Organization – Getting your workplace ready for COVID-19
Canadian Federation of Independent Business – Keeping your Employees and Business Safe
Digital Main Street – A free digital “how to” guide to help you grow your online business.
Facebook Grants for Small Business – Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants and ad credits for up to 30,000 eligible small businesses in over 30 countries.
Shopify Academy – Free Shopify training to help you build and grow your business. Topics include starting your online store, promoting it via social media, photography and more.
Google My Business – Guidance on updating information and temporary closures.
Financial Institutions & Mortgages
Announcement from Canada’s “Big Six” Banks – The Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges due to COVID-19.
Insured Mortgage Purchase Program – Purchase of up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This will provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders and support continued lending to Canadian businesses and consumers.
Ontario Providing Electricity Relief – The Ontario government has announced additional supports for provincial electricity consumers:⠀ ⠀
· COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program will provide one-time payments to help consumers struggling to pay their energy bill debt incurred over the COVID-19 period.⠀ ⠀
· COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business.⠀ ⠀
· Continued suspension of time-of-use electricity rates and starting on June 1, 2020 a new fixed COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8 cents per kilowatt which will remain in place until October 31, 2020.⠀
Pathstone Mental Health – While Pathstone Mental Health Walk-In Clinics are currently closed, if you are in need of mental health support you may contact the 24/7 crisis hotline at 1-800-263-4944.
Ontario Increasing Mental Health Support During COVID-19 – Resources for online and virtual supports.
Status of cases in Niagara Region
For any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Fort Erie Economic Development and Tourism Services.
Toll Free: 1-888-270-9151
Please note: New programs are being introduced very rapidly with operational details and clarifications being made daily. We are trying to keep this information updated but can only guarantee the information at the time of update. Please check back frequently.