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 Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

Prime Minister Trudeau announced details of the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses.

The federal government has reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the CECRA for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June. 
  • The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent.
  • Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. 
  • This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

The following exclusions would apply: 

  • Entities owned by individuals holding political office;
  • Entities that promote violence, incite hatred or discriminate on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability; and,
  • An entity in the Lenders special accounts or Restructuring Group prior to March 1, 2020.

The Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation will administer and deliver the CECRA, a collaboration between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. 

Provinces and territories have agreed to cost share total costs and facilitate implementation of the program.

It is expected that CECRA will be operational by mid-May, with commercial property owners lowering the rents of their small business tenant’s payable for the months of April and May, retroactively, and for June.

Commercial properties with a residential component, and residential mixed-use properties that have a 30 per cent commercial component, would be equally eligible for support with respect to their commercial tenants only.

If a property owner does not have a mortgage secured by a commercial rental property, the property owner should  contact CMHC to discuss program options, which may include applying funds against other forms of debt facilities or fixed cost payment obligations (e.g. utilities).

Further details on CECRA will be shared in the near future once final terms and conditions are available. 

Under a rent forgiveness agreement, which includes a moratorium on eviction, the mortgaged commercial property owner would reduce the small business tenant’s monthly rent by at least 75 per cent. The tenant would be responsible for covering 25 per cent, the property owner 25 per cent, while the federal government and provinces would share the remaining 50 per cent. The forgivable loans would be disbursed directly to the mortgage lender.

Prime Minister Trudeau announced the commercial rent program application portal opens May 25th. To apply for commercial rent program, go to http://cmhc.ca 


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.

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 $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 $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 25 percent (up to $10,000).
  • To access this loan, speak to your financial institution.

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 $252.4 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).

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.


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: NRC.Covid19IrapIAP-PAIPariCovid19.CNRC@nrc-cnrc.gc.ca


Emergency Community Support Fund

Prime Minister Trudeau announced funding for charities through the Emergency Community Support Fund.


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.


Agri-Food Open for E-Business

Governments Invest $2.5 Million to Grow Agri-food e-Business During COVID-19. The Agri-Food Open for E-Business initiative will 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:

1. 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.
2. 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.

Learn more here.