Government Assistance Resources

General Updates

Ensure your business is prepared to access available government resources to mitigate potential financial impacts to your employees and your business.

Business Resilience Service

The Government of Canada announced the launch of a four-week hotline service called the Business Resilience Service. This service will help entrepreneurs and small business owners in need of financial planning advice, particularly those who may not have access to an accountant. The service will also be open to not-for-profit organizations and charities.

The hotline is a national, bilingual service operated by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce. As of today, small business owners with pressing financial needs can call 1-866-989-1080 (toll-free) seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. (ET).

Business advisors—125 members of Chartered Professional Accountants Canada (CPA Canada)—will be available to provide customized financial guidance to the smallest business owners in the most urgent need and help them make the best decisions for their business as they navigate this crisis. Advisors can answer questions about tax regulations and the implications of COVID-19, inform business owners about government support programs that best fit their unique circumstances, and provide strategic financial planning for their road to recovery.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Application

Starting Monday, November 23, 2020, the federal government will be accepting Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) applications. The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy will provide direct relief to businesses, non-profits, and charities that continue to be economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rent subsidy would be available retroactive to September 27, 2020 until June 2021.

The government is proposing to extend the current subsidy rates of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for an additional three periods. This means a base subsidy rate of up to 65 per cent will be available on eligible expenses until March 13, 2021. This would ensure that businesses and other organizations continue to have the support they need through the second wave of the pandemic and the winter.

Since launching on November 23, applicants have been able to use the rent subsidy towards rent payable. The government will soon introduce legislation to formalize this as an eligible expense.

With the introduction of the new rent subsidy, qualifying organizations that have suffered a revenue drop would be eligible for a subsidy on eligible expenses. The maximum base rate subsidy would be 65 per cent, and available to organizations with a revenue drop of 70 per cent or more. The base rate would then decline to a rate of 40 per cent for organizations with a revenue drop of 50 per cent, and then would gradually reduce to zero for those not experiencing a decline in revenues.

Eligible expenses for a location for a qualifying period would include commercial rent, property taxes (including school taxes and municipal taxes), property insurance, and interest on commercial mortgages (subject to limits) for a qualifying property, less any subleasing revenues. Click here to see what funding your business is eligible for and to submit your application today.

Lockdown Support

For organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory, the government proposed a top-up under the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to provide additional support while facing lockdowns. 

The new Lockdown Support of up to 25% additional rent support would be available to organizations with locations that are temporarily forced to close or temporarily have their business activities significantly restricted by a public health order.

For an organization to qualify for the Lockdown support, they must qualify for the base CERS and the public health order must require that the location completely shut down or cease the activities that were responsible for at least approximately 25% of the revenues of the entity at that location.

Click here to learn more about this additional funding and for specific examples where detailing business eligibility.

Business Credit Availability Program

To support businesses, the Federal Government promised to act swiftly to stimulate the economy by strengthening investment in federal lending agencies such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.

  • Minister of Finance Bill Morneau outlined a coordinated package of measures being taken by financial sector partners to support the functioning of markets and continued access to financing for Canadian businesses.
  • The government is establishing a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP). The program will further support financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). Under this program, BDC and EDC will enhance their cooperation with private sector lenders to coordinate financing and credit insurance solutions for Canadian businesses.
  • Small Business Loans and Working Capital Loans
    • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months for qualifying businesses;
    • Postponement of payments for up to 6 months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less;
    • Reduced rates on new eligible loans;
    • To access these loans, click here or here or call 1-877-232-2269
  • Purchase order financing to cover up to 90 per cent of purchase order amounts to ease cash flow to suppliers
  • BDC Webinar for business, available here

Work Sharing Program Extension

The Federal Government announced the Work-Sharing program is implementing temporary special measures to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19. The new temporary special measures are available to employers impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The measures allows for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19. The temporary special measures will:

  • extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks, for a total of 76 weeks
    • wave the mandatory waiting period between agreements
    • ease the recovery plan requirements
  • Access the Work-Sharing page to learn more about the program and its requirements.
  • Access the Work-Sharing temporary special measures page to find out if you are eligible for temporary special measures.
  • For more information on the Work-Sharing Program, call the toll-free number: 1-800-367-5693
  • Employers are now requested to submit their applications 10 calendar days prior to the requested start date.
  • Prior to COVID-19, employers were requested to send their Work-Sharing application (and supporting documentation) 30 calendar days prior to their requested start date. The streamlined measures undertaken by Service Canada will aim to reduce the processing time to 10 calendar days.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is providing eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy.

CEWS has changed over the course of the pandemic.

Here’s what employers need to know about the wage subsidy moving forward:

  • Eligible employers who had any drop in revenue can now qualify for the wage subsidy, starting with the claim periods that began July 5.
  • The subsidy rate varies, depending on how much your revenue dropped
  • If your revenue drop was less than 30% you can still qualify, and keep getting the subsidy as employees return to work and your revenue recovers
  • Employers who were hardest hit over a period of three months get a higher amount
  • Employees who were unpaid for 14 or more days can now be included in your calculation
  • Use the current period’s revenue drop or the previous period’s, whichever works in your favour
    • For periods 5 and 6, if your revenue dropped at least 30%, your subsidy rate will be at least 75%
  • Even if your revenue has not dropped for the claim period, you can still qualify if your average revenue over the previous three months dropped more than 50%
  • The maximum base subsidy rate is 60% in claim periods 5 and 6
  • The maximum base subsidy rate will begin to decline in claim period 7, gradually reducing to 20% in period 9

The federal government has launched an updated Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy online calculator, to help employers prepare to apply for the next period of the CEWS program, which opened for applications August 17th.

Given the ferocity of the second wave and its expected economic impact, the government is proposing to increase the maximum subsidy rate to 75 per cent for the period beginning December 20, 2020 and to extend this rate until March 13, 2021, to provide greater certainty to employers.

As of right now, the changes announced in October remain the current policy. These changes included alterations to how revenue lost can be calculated as well as details on a Top Up Subsidy for those most affected by the pandemic. The wage subsidy is now more flexible and responsive, allowing employers to access the maximum subsidy rate based on a single month’s revenue decline instead of having to demonstrate three months’ decline, giving employers support that better reflects their current or evolving needs

Essentially, the base wage subsidy of up to 40% calculated on the basis of revenue lost remain in effect. If your business is experiencing a 50% decrease in revenues, you are eligible for this base amount. Businesses experiencing less than a 50% decrease in revenues are eligible for the CEWS on the basis of a formula calculation.

For businesses experiencing significant decrease in revenues, there is the Top Up Subsidy. The Top Up Subsidy is available to businesses experiencing a greater than 50% decline in revenues on the basis of a formula calculation for up to a maximum of a 65% wage subsidy top up.Click here to learn more about the CEWS and additional Top Up Support.

For the most up to date information on the wage subsidy, you can access the government’s CEWS FAQ, available here.

The CRA’s dedicated CEWS number 1-833-966-2099 offers access to agents who can provide information about eligibility requirements, calculating the CEWS, or how to apply. The line operates from Monday to Friday, from 9:00 a.m. until 9:00 p.m. local time.Employers can make changes or adjustments to their applications, even after they’ve been submitted.  More information is available here.

Canada Emergency Business Account

  • The Federal government announced the Canada Emergency Business Account, which will offer government guaranteed loans of up to $60,000 for SME businesses and not-for-profits, which will be interest-free for the first year. Some qualifying businesses will have $20k forgiven in debt. 
  • To qualify, organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. 
  • Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 33 percent (up to $20,000).
  • To access this loan, speak to your financial institution.

Support for Highly Affected Sectors

As outlined in the Speech from the Throne, some businesses, particularly those in highly-affected sectors like tourism and hospitality, have struggled to access sufficient financing. To help address this challenge and bridge these businesses through the crisis, the government proposes to work with financial institutions in the near term to offer loans on more generous terms to the hardest hit businesses, to help ensure they remain viable and in place to drive future economic growth:

The government will work with financial institutions in the near term to create the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) – a new program for the hardest hit businesses, including those in sectors, like tourism and hospitality, hotels, arts and entertainment. This stream will offer 100 percent government-guaranteed financing for heavily impacted businesses, and provide low-interest loans of up to $1 million over extended terms, up to ten years. Rates will be lower than those offered in BCAP and beneath typical market rates for hard hit sectors.

The government will provide details on the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) soon.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) 

Building on the measures already in place, the Government of Canada has set up a new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) to be delivered by the regional development agencies (RDAs). The aim of this Fund is to help more businesses and organizations in various sectors such as tourism and manufacturing access the support they need during these difficult times. 

The RDA for southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario will work with key partners such as the Community Futures Development Corporations across the region to help southern Ontario businesses during these difficult times. A total of $436.4 million will be available for southern Ontario businesses.

Businesses that are unable to access existing relief measures, can apply for funding under this new initiative.

SMEs will have been expected to have already applied to other Government of Canada emergency credit relief measures, for which they are eligible, including:

  • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA);
  • Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) – Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) Co-Lending and Export Development Corporation (EDC) Loan Guarantee programs;
  • BDC COVID-19 Working Capital loans; as well as,
  • Other targeted and sector-specific COVID-19 programs (e.g., funding for Indigenous Entrepreneurs, Farm Credit Canada).

To better ensure the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund can continue to support small businesses unable to access other federal pandemic support programs, including replicating newly announced Canada Emergency Business Account loan limit increases, the government is proposing a top-up of up to $500 million, on a cash basis, to Regional Development Agencies and the Community Futures Network of Canada, bringing total funding to over $2.0 billion in this fund.

Recognizing the importance of the RRRF in supporting local tourism businesses, the government will earmark a minimum of 25 per cent of all the Fund’s resources to support local tourism businesses, providing more than $500M in program support through June 2021.

NOTE: If you have received the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or the National Research Council Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC-IRAP) Innovation Assistance Program (IAP), you are eligible under the RRRF for financial support, excluding costs associated with salaries and benefits.

The RRRF, delivered by FedDev Ontario, will provide financial contributions (interest-free loans) to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Charities will not qualify for RRRF.

Applications for funding are accepted on an ongoing basis with no submission deadlines, until the Fund is fully committed.

FedDev Ontario has a single-phase RRRF application process using a single RRRF Application for Funding.

Refer to the Application Guide for instructions on how to complete the RRRF Application for Funding.

One Application for Funding per applicant is permitted. Multiple and concurrent applications from the same applicant will not be considered.

Further information here.

Support for Workers in the Live Events and Arts Sectors 

Cultural and recreation industries, which employ hundreds of thousands of Canadians, have been particularly hard hit by the pandemic, being among the first to shut down and likely among the last to return to regular activities. The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in the near complete suspension of live events and arts presentations, affecting thousands of self-employed and freelance artists and event workers across the country. The pandemic has also resulted in the drastic reduction of advertising revenues for Canadian broadcasting companies, including local television and radio stations on whom many Canadians rely for their news and entertainment.

To support the planning and presentation of COVID-19-safe events and the arts — including both live and digital — and to provide work opportunities in these sectors, the government will provide $181.5 million in 2021-22 to the Department of Canadian Heritage and the Canada Council for the Arts to expand their funding programs. This includes a one-year renewal of funding provided in Budget 2019 for the Building Communities through Arts and Heritage program, the Canada Arts Presentation Fund and the Canada Music Fund.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

The federal government announced a new loan program aimed at providing financing access to large employers impacted by COVID-19.

The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) will allow companies to access additional liquidity to keep their operations going, retain workers on payroll, and avoid bankruptcy.

The federal government is offering companies across almost all sectors that have larger financing needs access to loans of up to $60 million per company, and guarantees of up to $80 million. 

The new program comes with a series of terms and conditions.

  • Eligible companies must have annual revenues of at least $300 million 
  • Businesses in the financial sector are not eligible, nor are any firms convicted of tax evasion in the past.
  • LEEFF applicants must have “significant operations or workforce in Canada” 
  • Successful applicants will have to report annually on its climate and sustainability initiatives
  • The federal government intends to implement strict limits on executive pay and share buybacks, and will expect firms to respect all collective bargaining agreements and pensions.

NRC IRAP Innovation Assistance Program (IAP)

The Government of Canada announced $250 million in funding for the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) to assist Canadian small and medium-sized  enterprises (SMEs).

IRAP IAP provides a wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks.

The call for applications will close Wednesday, April 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT.

Your company must meet the following to be eligible:

  • Be ineligible for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
  • Be an incorporated, profit-oriented small or medium-sized business in Canada
  • Be a company with 500 or fewer full-time equivalent employees
  • Plan to pursue growth and profit by developing and commercializing innovative, technology-driven new or improved products, services or processes in Canada
  • Lack sufficient financial resources to sustain operations during the COVID-19 downturn period
  • Have a Canada Revenue Agency business number
  • Be incorporated by no later than March 1, 2020

If you meet all eligibility criteria listed above, you can complete an application here

Following the assessment and approval of applications, applicants will be notified in writing on the status of their application as early as the week of May 11, 2020.

IAP will begin making payments to successful applicants starting the week of May 11, 2020If you have questions not covered in the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ), you can email:

Deferred Businesses Filing Taxes

  • The City of Hamilton is deferring property taxes, details below.
    • The 2020 Interim Property Tax Instalment due on April 30th- penalty and interest charges will be waived for a period of 60 days. If the April 30th instalment is not paid by June 30th, it will be subject to penalty and interest starting July 1st. 
    • The 2020 Final Property Tax Instalment due on June 30th – penalty will be waived for a period of 30 days. If the June 30th instalment is not paid by July 31st, it will be subject to penalty and interest starting August 1st.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.
  • The Liaison Officer service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.
  • There will be 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.
  • The Province is 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.
  • The Federal government announced GST and HST taxes and duties on imports deferred will be deferred until June. More details here.

City of Hamilton Business Licensing Fees

The City of Hamilton is waiving late fees on business licenses that have expired between March 17th and May 25th. After May 25th, the City plans to re-evaluate the late fee extension.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) Payment Deferral

The Provincial government is 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. They will not be required to opt in to receive this benefit.
  • 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.
  • There will be no negative consequences for businesses who defer premium reporting and payments. 
  • The WSIB will continue to fully cover workers at eligible workplaces.

Employer Health Tax (EHT) Exemption

The Provincial government is cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption.

They are instituting a temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption from $490,000 to $1 million for 2020.

Under Ontario’s Action Plan: Protect, Support Recover, the provincial government has made these exemptions permanent.

$600M Fund for Businesses Experiencing Significant Public Health Measures

The Ontario government is making $600 million in funding available to businesses required to close or significantly restrict services in areas subject to the Red/Control or Lockdown categories. Rebates will cover the period of time that businesses are required to temporarily close.

Beginning on November 16, 2020, eligible businesses are able to apply for temporary property tax and energy cost rebates directly to the province through a single, online application portal. The application portal also provides additional resources to businesses beyond property tax and energy cost rebates, such as a small funding grant for PPE. Many businesses should expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of finalizing and submitting their completed application. 

For more information on this funding opportunity, please click here.

Provincial Business Education Tax (BET) Reduction 

The provincial government has moved towards modernizing the taxation framework by amending property assessment tools to insulate them from real estate speculation and giving municipalities more freedom in how they accrue property taxes. 

As such, the business education tax (BET) will be reduced to a rate of 0.88%, resulting in an estimated 30% reduction in the tax for businesses subjected to higher BET rates, including businesses in Hamilton. Currently, the majority of Hamilton businesses are paying roughly 1.2%, so this is a welcome policy intervention to reduce the taxation burden on local businesses of all sizes.

These changes will be reflected directly in your property tax calculations.

Simplifying the Home Office Expense Deduction

To simplify the process for both taxpayers and businesses, the CRA will allow employees working from home in 2020 due to COVID-19 with modest expenses to claim up to $400, based on the amount of time working from home, without the need to track detailed expenses, and will generally not request that people provide a signed form from their employers. This measure will help taxpayers access deductions they are entitled to receive and simplify the tax filing process. Allowing employees who are working from home due to COVID-19 and eligible to claim home office expenses to deduct up to $400 in 2020 using a simplified flat rate, and generally do not request form T2200 from these employees. Further detail will be communicated by the CRA in the coming weeks.