Government Updates

Noted here are an archive of Provincial and Federal government updates pertaining to COVID-19, newest to oldest.

AS OF August 17, 2020: Applications for Period 5 wage subsidies open today. Enhancements to the CEWS program, which are being introduced in Period 5, will include expanding eligibility criteria, introducing a sliding revenue-decline test to determine the subsidy amount, and providing a top-up subsidy for the most impacted employers.  Employers can expect to receive their payment within 3-5 business days after applying if they are registered with direct deposit on their payroll account. Details here.


AS OF July 27,2020: Canada Revenue Agency extends the payment deadline & interest relief on outstanding tax debts during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is extending the payment due date for current year individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns, including installment payments, from September 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020. Penalties and interest will not be charged if payments are made by the extended deadline of September 30, 2020. This includes the late-filing penalty as long as the return is filed by September 30, 2020.

The CRA is also waiving interest on existing tax debts related to individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns from April 1, 2020, to September 30, 2020 and from April 1, 2020, to June 30, 2020, for goods and services tax/harmonized sales tax (GST/HST) returns.

The previously extended filing due dates for individual, corporate, and trust income tax returns remain unchanged, however the CRA will not impose late-filing penalties where a current year individual, corporation, or trust return is filed late provided that it is filed by September 30, 2020.


AS of July 20, 2020: The Ontario government is allowing seven more regions, including Hamilton, to enter Stage 3 on Friday, July 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

In Stage 3, gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people indoors and a maximum of 100 people outdoors, with physical distancing in place. Gathering limits apply to all social gatherings and events, as well as some higher risk activities and venues. Gathering limits do not apply to settings such as beaches, parks, restaurants and bars, but measures to enable physical distancing may limit capacity at any given time.

The following high-risk places and activities are not yet safe to open, due to the likelihood of large crowds congregating, difficulties with physical distancing, or challenges maintaining the proper cleaning and sanitation required to prevent the spread of COVID-19:

  • Amusement parks and water parks
  • Buffet-style food services
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements
  • Overnight stays at camps for children
  • Private karaoke rooms
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.

All other businesses and public spaces will be permitted to be open, subject to ensuring the appropriate health and safety measures are in place, as well as limits on gathering sizes.

For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

AS OF July 20, 2020: Wearing a mask or face covering is now required in enclosed public spaces under City of Hamilton By-Law 20-155. This includes restaurants, retail stores and malls, hair salons, places of worship, buses, and other enclosed spaces. For a full list of information and details on face coverings and the new masks by-law, visit hamilton.ca/masks.


AS OF July 17, 2020: The Government of Canada announced possible changes coming to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Proposed changes included in the Government’s draft legislative proposals would:

  • Allow the extension of the CEWS until December 19, 2020, including redesigned program details until November 21, 2020.
  • Make the subsidy accessible to a broader range of employers by including employers with a revenue decline of less than 30 per cent and providing a gradually decreasing base subsidy to all qualifying employers. This would help many struggling employers with less than a 30-per-cent revenue loss get support to keep and bring back workers, while also ensuring those who have previously benefited could still qualify, even if their revenues recover and no longer meet the 30 per cent revenue decline threshold.
  • Introduce a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 per cent for employers that have been most adversely affected by the pandemic. This would be particularly helpful to employers in industries that are recovering more slowly.

More information to come.


AS OF July 13, 2020: The Ontario government announced public health unit regions that will be allowed to move into Stage 3, on Friday, July 17, 2020. Hamilton will NOT enter Stage 3 yet.

As part of the Stage 3 reopening, Ontario will be increasing gathering limits for those regions entering the next stage to the following:

  • Indoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 50 people;
  • Outdoor gathering limits will increase to a maximum of 100 people;
  • Gathering limits are subject to physical distancing requirements.

Regions remaining in Stage 2 will maintain the existing gathering limit of 10. Social circles in all stages at this point will also be kept to a maximum of 10 people province-wide, regardless of stage.

Not permitted during Stage 3:

  • Amusement parks and water parks;
  • Buffet-style food services;
  • Dancing at restaurants and bars, other than by performers hired by the establishment following specific requirements;
  • Overnight stays at camps for children;
  • Private karaoke rooms;
  • Prolonged or deliberate contact while playing sports;
  • Saunas, steam rooms, bath houses and oxygen bars;
  • Table games at casinos and gaming establishments.

For more information on the restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, as well as the public health guidance necessary to keep the people of Ontario safe, visit ontario.ca/reopen.

For questions on restrictions that will remain in place during Stage 3, review the Stage 3 Emergency Order on the emergency information portal or call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

AS OF July 13, 2020: The federal government is extending its program to subsidize wages in companies hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic until December.


AS OF July 10, 2020: The City of Hamilton has approved the indoor mandatory mask bylaw. Council is set to ratify this on July 17. Effective July 20, wearing a mask or face covering will be required in indoor public spaces, including businesses, in Hamilton.

We trust each and every Hamiltonian will abide by this guideline and do their part. Let’s work together to protect our community.

We want our Chamber members to be best prepared for this bylaw. We will be working with our members to ensure they have access to sample mask policies to meet their legal requirements and protect the public. 


AS OF June 17, 2020: The Ontario government passed the Protecting Small Business Act, temporarily halting or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. The legislation applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance for evictions from May 1, 2020 until August 31, 2020.


AS OF June 16, 2020: The Ontario government is providing employers with a new general workplace guide, to help develop a safety plan to better protect workers, customers and clients. The new downloadable toolkit offers tips on how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as more people get back on the job during Stage 2 of the reopening of the province. Check out the new resources here.

AS OF June 16, 2020: Prime Minister Trudeau announced the federal government will be extending the CERB by 8 weeks.


AS OF June 15, 2020: The Ontario government announced today that Hamilton can move forward into Stage 2 of reopening. This means more people can get back to work and more recreational activities will reopen. 

Effective Friday, June 19 at 12:01 a.m. the following will be permitted to open: 

  • Personal care services
  • Personal services
  • Restaurants & bars
  • Shopping malls & centres
  • Photography, Film & TV
  • Tour & guide services
  • Water recreational facilities
  • Outdoor recreational facilities and team sports
  • Beaches, parks & camping
  • Drive-in & drive-thru venues
  • Weddings, funerals and similar gatherings
  • Libraries
  • Community centres
  • Attractions & heritage institutions
  • Small outdoor events

For a detailed list of what can reopen in Stage 2, click here.

For sector specific guides to help prevent COVID-19 in the workplace, click here.

AS OF June 15, 2020: On May 19, Prime Minister Trudeau announced CEBA (emergency business loan of $40,000) would be extended to cover sole owner-operators, businesses who rely on contractors, and family-owned businesses who pay employees through dividends. The extension will be in place on Friday, June 20.


AS OF June 11, 2020: The Government of Canada and the Government of Ontario announce they are extending the Digital Main Street program, to help small businesses.

Through the $57-million contribution to the Digital Main Street platform, businesses will be able to take advantage of three new programs to support their digital transformation:

  • shopHERE powered by Google will leverage Ontario’s strengths by hiring highly skilled and trained students to build and support the launch of online stores for businesses that previously did not have the capacity to do so themselves. The core goal will be to help small businesses compete and grow, in a world that is increasingly online, and help them recover as quickly as possible following COVID-19.
  • Digital Main Street Grant will help main street small businesses be digitally more effective. Through a $2,500 grant administered by the Ontario BIA Association, small businesses will be able to adopt new technologies and embrace digital marketing. Municipalities, Chambers of Commerce, and Business Improvement Areas (BIAs) can apply for a Digital Service Squad grant, which will allow them to establish teams to provide personalized, one-on-one support.
  • Future-Proofing Main Street will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that helps existing main-street firms adapt to changes in their sector and thrive in the new economy. By leveraging teams of digital marketing professionals and talented students, these firms will be able to create new online business models, develop and implement digital and e-commerce marketing strategies, and maximize digital tools, platforms and content.

In addition, the Recovery Activation Program, operated through the Toronto Region Board of Trade, will help businesses grow and digitize their operations with custom consulting sessions, online resource sharing, learning webcasts and business planning. 


AS of June 8, 2020: The Ontario government announced that it intends to take action to protect commercial tenants from being locked out or having their assets seized by their landlords due to the negative impacts of COVID-19. 

The proposed changes to the Commercial Tenancies Act would, if passed, temporarily halt evictions of businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance. If passed, the legislation would reverse evictions that occurred on or after June 3, 2020. The government intends to bring this legislation forward as soon as possible.

AS of June 8, 2020: The Ontario government announced that it is moving forward with a regional approach to Stage 2 of reopening the province. 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. 

Hamilton and the rest of the GTHA will not be entering Phase 2 on Friday.

The GTHA will be assessed for Phase 2 as early as June 19th.

For those areas allowed to enter Phase 2, the following will be permitted:

  • Outdoor dine-in services at restaurants, bars and other establishments, including patios, curbside, parking lots and adjacent properties;
  • Select personal and personal care services with the proper health and safety measures in place, including tattoo parlours, barber shops, hair salons and beauty salons;
  • Shopping malls under existing restrictions, including food services reopening for take-out and outdoor dining only;
  • Tour and guide services, such as bike and walking, bus and boat tours, as well as tasting and tours for wineries, breweries and distilleries;
  • Water recreational facilities such as outdoor splash pads and wading pools, and all swimming pools;
  • Beach access and additional camping at Ontario Parks;
  • Camping at private campgrounds;
  • Outdoor-only recreational facilities and training for outdoor team sports, with limits to enable physical distancing;
  • Drive-in and drive-through venues for theatres, concerts, animal attractions and cultural appreciation, such as art installations;
  • Film and television production activities, with limits to enable physical distancing; and
  • Weddings and funerals, with limits on social gatherings to 10 people.

For all regions of the province, the province will soon release more details on:

  • Child care;
  • Summer camps;
  • Post-secondary education pilots to help people graduate;
  • Training centres; and
  • Public transit

AS OF June 1, 2020: The Ontario government announced that it has enacted a new regulatory amendment that will put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19. This will ensure businesses aren’t forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired.

Terminations triggered when temporary layoffs exceed the permitted length under the Employment Standards Act can result in costly payouts. Under the new regulatory change to the Employment Standards Act, non-unionized employees who have had their hours reduced or eliminated because of the pandemic will be deemed to be on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave. Workers will remain employed with legal protections and be eligible for federal emergency income support programs.

The regulatory amendment applies retroactively to March 1, 2020 and will expire six weeks after the declared emergency ends. The regulatory amendments do not include employees represented by a trade union.


AS OF May 25, 2020: 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.


As of May 20, 2020: Prime Minister Trudeau announced the commercial rent program application portal opens May 25th. To apply for commercial rent program, go to http://cmhc.ca


AS OF May 19, 2020: Prime Minister Trudeau announced CEBA (emergency business loan of $40,000) will soon be extended, some details have been provided.

The program will be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.

To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:

  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.

Expenses will be subject to verification and audit by the Government of Canada. Funding will be delivered in partnership with financial institutions. More details, including the launch date for applications under the new criteria, will follow in the days to come.


AS OF May 19, 2020: Prime Minister Trudeau announced CEBA (emergency business loan of $40,000) will soon be extended to cover sole owner-operators, businesses who rely on contractors, and family-owned businesses who pay employees through dividends. Minister Mary Ng is ‘working on potential solutions’ for business owners without a business account and new businesses that haven’t filed tax returns yet. No details on timeline. Further details to come. 


AS OF May 15, 2020: The Federal government confirmed the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) will be extended by 3 months to the end of August 2020.


AS OF May 14, 2020: Ontario Announces Additional Workplaces that Can Reopen. 

Ontario’s first stage of reopening will begin on Tuesday, May 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. and will include:

  • Retail services that are not in shopping malls and have separate street-front entrances with measures in place that can enable physical distancing, such as limiting the number of customers in the store at any one time and booking appointments beforehand or on the spot.
  • Seasonal businesses and recreational activities for individual or single competitors, including training and sport competitions conducted by a recognized national or provincial sport organization. This includes indoor and outdoor non-team sport competitions that can be played while maintaining physical distancing and without spectators, such as tennis, track and field and horse racing.
  • Animal services, specifically pet care services, such as grooming and training, and regular veterinary appointments.
  • Indoor and outdoor household services that can follow public health guidelines, such as housekeepers, cooks, cleaning and maintenance.
  • Lifting essential workplace limits on construction.
  • Allowing certain health and medical services to resume, such as in-person counselling and scheduled surgeries based on the ability to meet pre-specified conditions as outlined in A Measured Approach to Planning for Surgeries and Procedures During the COVID-19 Pandemic, as well as resuming professional services such as shifting Children’s Treatment Centres from virtual to in-person.

As soon as 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, May 16, 2020:

  • Golf courses will be able to open, with clubhouses open only for washrooms and restaurants open only for take-out.
  • Marinas, boat clubs and public boat launches may open for recreational use.
  • Private parks and campgrounds may open to enable preparation for the season and to allow access for trailers and recreational vehicles whose owners have a full season contract.
  • Businesses that board animals, such as stables, may allow boarders to visit, care for or ride their animal.

The Workplace PPE Supplier Directory has an up-to-date list of Ontario companies and business associations that are ready to supply personal protective equipment for their workers.


AS OF May 13, 2020: 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.

Businesses and organizations that have applied but not qualified for existing federal COVID-19 relief programs are encouraged to review the RRRF eligibility requirements or to contact their local RDA for more information.


AS OF May 11, 2020: 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.

AS OF May 6, 2020: Ontario is keeping lower TOU electricity prices in place until May 31 and extending all state-of-emergency orders to May 19.

The AGCO also announced an extension of the temporary permission for bars and restaurants to sell alcohol with food for takeout and delivery until December 31, 2020 and reduced the minimum price of spirits sold by licensed establishments with food takeout and delivery orders by 33 percent.

The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as of May 11.

The Ontario government is allowing in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries as of May 8, and hardware stores and safety supply stores as of May 9.


AS OF May 1, 2020: The Ontario government is allowing certain businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. Those permitted to start up include seasonal businesses and some essential construction projects.

By following the proper health and safety guidelines these businesses will be permitted to begin operations on Monday, May 4 at 12:01 a.m.:

  • Garden centres and nurseries with curbside pick-up and delivery only;
  • Lawn care and landscaping;
  • Additional essential construction projects that include:
    • shipping and logistics;
    • broadband, telecommunications, and digital infrastructure;
    • any other project that supports the improved delivery of goods and services;
    • municipal projects;
    • colleges and universities;
    • child care centres;
    • schools; and
    • site preparation, excavation, and servicing for institutional, commercial, industrial and residential development;
  • Automatic and self-serve car washes;
  • Auto dealerships, open by appointment only;
  • Golf courses may prepare their courses for the upcoming season, but not open to the public; and
  • Marinas may also begin preparations for the recreational boating season by servicing boats and other watercraft and placing boats in the water, but not open to the public. Boats and watercraft must be secured to a dock in the marina until public access is allowed.

AS OF April 30, 2020: Ontario is releasing safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.

These resources are available for different sectors. They will help employers and workers better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Click here to read the available guidelines.

As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional COVID-19 workplace safety resources will be added.


AS OF April 27, 2020: Ontario government released A Framework for Reopening our Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures.

The government is planning a stage-by-stage approach to reopening the economy to ensure there are appropriate measures in place so workplaces can open safely. Public health officials will carefully monitor each stage for two to four weeks, as they assess the evolution of the COVID-19 outbreak to determine if it is necessary to change course to maintain public health.

Stage 1: For businesses that were ordered to close or restrict operations, opening select workplaces that can immediately modify operations to meet public health guidance. Opening some outdoor spaces like parks and allowing for a greater number of individuals to attend some events. Hospitals would also begin to offer some non-urgent and scheduled surgeries, and other health care services.

Stage 2: Opening more workplaces, based on risk assessments, which may include some service industries and additional office and retail workplaces. Some larger public gatherings would be allowed, and more outdoor spaces would open.

Stage 3: Opening of all workplaces responsibly and further relaxing of restrictions on public gatherings.


AS OF April 24, 2020: 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 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.

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.


AS OF April 21, 2020: Prime Minister Trudeau announced funding for charities through the Emergency Community Support Fund.

The Prime Minister also provided an update on the CEWS. Today, the CRA is providing an online calculator for businesses to allow them to anticipate what they will qualify for under the program. Applications for the wage subsidy open Monday, April 27th, 2020.

Minister Duclos provided further details on the wage subsidy:

  • The government expects 90% of CEWS applications will be process by May 5th and funds will flow quickly thereafter.

AS OF April 17, 2020: Prime Minister Trudeau announced funding for businesses that aren’t qualifying for CEBA or the wage subsidy: 

  • $962 million for regional development agencies
  • $270 million for Futurpreneur and the Industrial Research Assistance Program
  • $500 million for Heritage Canada to support arts, culture and sports sectors

AS OF April 16, 2020: Prime Minister Trudeau announced Canada Emergency Business Account is expanding its criteria for eligibility. Businesses with payrolls in 2019 between $20,000 and $1.5 million will be eligible for the $40K loan for businesses, interest free. Speak to your bank to access.

The Prime Minister also announced the introduction of the Canada Emergency Rent Assistance initiative to assist businesses with commercial rent. This program will provide support to help small businesses with their rent for the months of April, May, and June. More details to come.


AS OF April 15, 2020: Prime Minister Trudeau announced that those who earn $1000 or less a month will now be eligible for CERB. Moreover, those who have run out of employment insurance since January 1st, 2020 can now access the CERB. Seasonal workers will also be eligible for CERB.


AS OF April 11, 2020: The House of Commons sat for an emergency session to pass the government’s revised legislation, Bill C-14, A Second Act Respecting Certain Measures in Response to COVID-19. Minister of Finance Bill Morneau was present to introduce the $73-billion Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) legislation representing a subsidy covering up to 75 per cent of employee wages for businesses that have lost income amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

A number of Additional Details on the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy were released. These include:

  • The pre-crisis remuneration for a given employee would be based on the average weekly remuneration paid between January 1 and March 15 inclusively, excluding any seven-day periods in respect of which the employee did not receive remuneration.
  • Eligible remuneration may include salary, wages, and other remuneration like taxable benefits. These are amounts for which employers would generally be required to withhold or deduct amounts to remit to the Receiver General on account of the employee’s income tax obligation. However, it does not include severance pay, or items such as stock option benefits or the personal use of a corporate vehicle.
  • In general, an employee will be considered to be on leave with pay throughout a week if that employee is remunerated by the employer for that week but does not perform any work for the employer in that week. 
  • On April 8, 2020, the Government proposed to expand the CEWS by introducing a new 100 per cent refund for certain employer-paid contributions to Employment Insurance and the Canada Pension Plan. For greater certainty, employers would be required to continue to collect and remit employer and employee contributions to each program as usual. Eligible employers would apply for a refund, as described above, at the same time that they apply for the CEWS.
  • Employers that engage in artificial transactions to reduce revenue for the purpose of claiming the CEWS would be subject to a penalty equal to 25 per cent of the value of the subsidy claimed, in addition to the requirement to repay in full the subsidy that was improperly claimed.
  • The usual treatment of tax credits and other benefits provided by the government would apply. As a consequence, the wage subsidy received by an employer would be considered government assistance and be included in the employer’s taxable income.

AS OF April 3, 2020: Following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government announced it is reducing the list of businesses classified as essential and ordering more workplaces to close.

The government is ordering all businesses not covered by the updated Emergency Order to close effective as of Saturday, April 4, 2020 at 11:59 p.m. This closure will be in effect for 14 days, with the possibility of an extension as the situation evolves. Teleworking, online commerce and other innovative ways of working remotely are permitted at all times and are strongly encouraged for all businesses. All supply chains necessary for the production of vital food and healthcare supplies are being protected and remain intact.

Private sector industrial, commercial and institutional projects will be affected, while public sector infrastructure work and some residential construction will be allowed to continue. 

Projects related to the health-care sector, including any work necessary to ensure the production of critical equipment and medical devices, as well those required to maintain the operations of petrochemical plants and refineries, will be exempted from the shut down. The updated essential businesses list can be found here.


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:

  • Those residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old;
  • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits;
  • Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application; and
  • Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.

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.

The portal for accessing the CERB is now available.

Click here for common CERB FAQs.

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.

For details, call 1-800-959-2019.


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.

AS OF March 23, 2020: the provincial government announced it is ordering the closure of all non-essential businesses in the province to help deal with the spread of COVID-19.

  • The order will be effective Tuesday at 11:59 p.m. and will be in place for at least 14 days.
  • Here are the list of businesses that will be allowed to stay open.
  • This order does not prohibit work and services by entities not on the list to continue either online, by telephone or by mail/delivery.
  • Teleworking and online commerce are permitted at all times for all businesses.
  • Essential services may continue their operations to maintain supply chains and ensure the people of Ontario have access to necessities, including groceries, medicines and other essential products.
  • The province has launched a toll-free line 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces.

AS OF March 21, 2020: the provincial government set up a website for businesses that can help Ontario during this crisis. Please visit ontario.ca/OntarioTogether.


AS OF March 19, 2020: List of Closures in Hamilton (c/o TheSpec)


AS OF March 18, 2020: The Prime Minister announced a new set of economic measures to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. These measures, delivered as part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, will provide up to $27 billion in direct support to Canadian workers and businesses. Full details here.

AS OF March 18, 2020: Canada’s big six banks announced they will allow mortgage payment deferrals for up to six months as part of extraordinary measures to help customers struggling with the financial impacts of the novel coronavirus pandemic.

  • Effective immediately, 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 such as pay disruption due to COVID-19; childcare disruption due to school closures; or those facing illness from COVID-19. Full details here.

AS OF March 17, 2020: the Government of Ontario announced that it is declaring an emergency effective immediately. As a result of this declaration, the following establishments are legally required to close immediately:

  • All facilities providing indoor recreational programs;
  • All public libraries;
  • All private schools as defined in the Education Act;
  • All licensed child care centres;
  • All bars and restaurants, except to the extent that such facilities provide takeout food and delivery;
  • All theatres including those offering live performances of music, dance, and other art forms, as well as cinemas that show movies; and
  • Concert venues
  • Further, all organized public events of over 50 people are also prohibited, including parades and events and communal services within places of worship. Continued operation of workplaces that employ more than 50 people is not prohibited.
  • These orders will remain in place until March 31, 2020, at which point they will be reassessed and considered for extension, unless this order is terminated earlier.

AS OF March 16, 2020: only four Canadian airports will accept international travelers: Toronto, Vancouver, Calgary, and Montreal. Please note that these restrictions will not apply to trade or commerce. Canadians who are overseas have been asked to return home while commercial travel is still available. All travelers returning to Canada must self-isolate for 14 days. Canadians are also advised to avoid non-essential travel.