COVID-19 Business Continuity & Recovery Information

Last Update: 04/01/2020, 1:00PM

The Hamilton Chamber of Commerce, in partnership with the City of Hamilton, Hamilton Economic Development, and the Flamborough and Stoney Creek Chambers of Commerce, are closely monitoring and assessing new developments pertaining to COVID-19, as well as its impacts on Hamilton business.

As business owners, employers, employees, and citizens, we recognize that this rapidly changing situation with COVID-19 is causing worry and concern.

To support you through this uncertainty, we have gathered and prepared several resources that you can navigate through on the green drop-down menu (on mobile) or on the left hand navigation (on desktop).

On this website, you can find access to:


Monitor COVID-19

Stay up-to-date on the rapidly evolving situation, and on the nature of the virus itself, by frequently checking municipal, provincial, and national websites.


Recent Updates

AS OF April 1, 2020: the latest updates on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) can be found below.

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months.

  • The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration.
  • This subsidy continues to exist.

The Federal government announced further, increased wage subsidies to any business, big or small, along with charities and not-for-profit organizations, so long as they are not publicly-funded, and meet the criteria below.

  • A 75% wage subsidy is available, up to 3 months. This subsidy will be backdated to March 15th, 2020. 
  • To qualify, gross businesses revenues must have decreased by at least 30%, this will be reviewed and verified after the fact.
  • Revenues will be compared to the respective month in from last year (2019) in March, April or May.
  • Details for businesses who do not have revenue data from last year will come soon.
  • Companies will be required to show pre-crisis income of an employee. Business will then get 75% of the wages they paid out returned to them through the CRA.
  • Companies will need to apply for the subsidy each month. 
  • This subsidy applies to any business, big or small, including the hospitality sector (bars, restaurants).
  • The number of employees in your organization won’t determine if you qualify.
  • The subsidy will cover 75% of a salary on the first $58,700 earned.
  • Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker.
  • Your business does not need to be open to receive the subsidy.
  • The remaining 25% of wages is not required to qualify for the subsidy. However, employers will need to attest that they are doing everything they can to pay the remaining 25%of people’s wages.
  • Any one who fraudulently accesses these subsidies will face serious penalties.
  • Businesses will apply through the CRA website. 
  • The portal will open shortly; the funds will be available in 6 weeks (as of April 1st)
  • Further details of how and where to access the subsidy to come

AS OF March 30, 2020: the Federal government provided further details on wage subsidies for businesses.

  • The Federal government announced increased wage subsidies for SME business and not-for-profits. The wage subsidy is increasing from 10% to 75%, for 3 months. This subsidy will be backdated to March 15th, 2020. 
  • To qualify, businesses revenues must have decreased by at least 30%, this will be reviewed and verified after the fact 
  • The number of employees in your organization won’t determine if you qualify
  • The subsidy will cover 75% of a salary on the first $58,700 earned
  • Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker
  • Your business does not need to be open to receive the subsidy
  • The remaining 25% of wages is recommended, but not required to qualify to for the subsidy
  • Further details of how and where to access the subsidy to come

AS OF March 27, 2020: the Federal government announced the Canada Emergency Business Account, which will offer government guaranteed loans of up to $40,000 for SME businesses and not-for-profits, which will be interest-free for the first year. Some qualifying businesses will have $10k forgiven in debt. 

  • To qualify, organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019. 
  • Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).

The Federal government announced increased wage subsidies for SME business. The wage subsidy is increasing from 10% to 75% for 3 months. This subsidy will be backdated to March 15th, 2020. 

The Federal government announced GST and HST taxes and duties on imports deferred will be deferred until June.

AS OF March 26, 2020: Effective immediately, the AGCO announced that licensed restaurants and bars in Ontario may sell alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders between the hours of 9:00 am and 11:00 pm. All active liquor licensees may immediately begin offering this service if they choose and there is no application process or fee required. Liquor may be sold for takeout or delivery through a third party, such as a food delivery service or ordering platform, provided they are acting on behalf of the licensee.

  • 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 and is not intoxicated. The licensee or its staff involved in the delivery of alcohol must have successfully completed Smart Serve training. In 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.

AS OF March 25, 2020: the provincial government released Ontario’s Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19, with a number of measures for businesses, including:

  • Five months of interest and penalty relief for businesses to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.
    • Beginning April 1, 2020, up until August 31, 2020, the Province will not apply any penalty or interest on any late-filed returns or incomplete or late tax payments under select provincially administered taxes, such as the Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax and Gas Tax.
  • Deferring the upcoming June 30 quarterly municipal remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, which will provide municipalities the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals to residents and businesses.
  • Allowing employers to defer payments for Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) for up to six months.
    • All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial relief package. 
    • Schedule 1 employers with premiums owed to the WSIB will be allowed to defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. The deferral will also apply to Schedule 2 businesses that pay WSIB for the cost related to their workplace injury and illness claims. 
    • In addition, no interest will be accrued on outstanding premium payments and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period.
  • Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption.
    • a temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption from $490,000 to $1 million for 2020.

AS OF March 25, 2020: the Federal government introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This benefit provides support for up to 16 weeks for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This benefit replaces the Emergency Care Benefit and the Emergency Support Benefit.

The CERB provides a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to:

  • workers who must stop working due to COVID19 and do not have access to paid leave or other income support.
  • workers who are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19.
  • working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children that are sick or need additional care because of school and daycare closures.
  • workers who still have their employment but are not being paid because there is currently not sufficient work and their employer has asked them not to come to work.
  • wage earners and self-employed individuals, including contract workers, who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance.

Click here for full eligibility details on the CERB.

Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application. 

Those who have already applied for EI do not need to re-apply for the CERB, you will automatically be switched over.

Who is a “worker” under CERB program? 

  • A worker is defined as a person who is at least 15 years of age, is a resident in Canada and who in 2019 (or in the 12 months before applying) had an income of at least $5,000 from (a) employment (b) self-employment (c) certain EI benefits.
  • A worker is eligible for an income support payment if
    • (a) the worker, whether employed or self-employed, ceases working for reasons related to COVID-19 for at least 14 consecutive days within the four-week period in respect of which they apply for the payment; and
    • (b) they do not receive income in respect of the consecutive days on which they have ceased working

The portal for accessing the CERB will be available in early April.

You can get ready to apply online by setting up your CRA My Account now, and signing up for direct deposit to get your benefit more quickly.

AS OF March 24, 2020: the provincial government announced immediate electricity rate relief

  • For a 45-day period, the government is holding electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 10.1 ¢/kWh no matter what time of day the electricity is consumed
  • Time-of-use customers will see rate reductions of over 50 per cent compared to on-peak rates
  • The pricing applies automatically – no customer action is required.
  • Some customers may receive a bill before their utility or unit sub-meter provider is able to implement the price change, in which case they will receive a credit on the following bill.

For all older updates, please click here.


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