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Resources for business during COVID-19 disruption

Recent Updates

News: May 28, 2020 Markham jumps into ShopHERE program in support of small businesses
Statement from Markham Mayor Frank Scarpitti: The City of Markham is the first municipality to join a Canada-wide initiative. The ShopHERE Program, initiated by Digital Main Street (a program of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas) and the City of Toronto, is being expanded across the country.

ShopHERE will provide independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store, which will be built and launched with no fees charged to the business, with support from marketing and business students. The program will provide independent businesses and artists with:

  • Their choice of a template online store customized with their information, branding, logo, etc.
  • Hands-on assistance setting up and launching their online store.
  • Training and support for digital marketing, shipping and operating an online store.
  • Access to free tools and online advertising credits to support the launch of their online store.

Digital Main Street and Google are extending the program to Canadian municipalities with a goal of building 50,000 online stores by the end of 2020.

News: May 25, 2020  Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Consultation Opened on May 25, 2020 and will close to input on June 5, 2020. The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action through Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to support Canadians and protect jobs during the global COVID-19 outbreak. The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), which was announced on April 1, 2020, helps employers protect jobs, rehire employees, and provide workers with a decent income. The subsidy covers 75 per cent of an employee’s wages (up to $847 per week) for employers who have been hard-hit by COVID-19.

This consultation will help inform potential changes to the CEWS to help maximize employment and best meet the needs of businesses and workers during these challenging times. The consultation seeks input on the eight questions intended to inform advice to the government on potential changes to the program (e.g., challenges, accessibility, seasonal businesses, interaction with CERB, etc.).

News: May 25, 2020 — Minister Ng announces hotline to provide small businesses in need with financial planning advice amid COVID-19. The Government of Canada will support 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.

News: May 19 and 20, 2020  CMHC announces that the CECRA application portal opens on May 25, 2020 for eligible property owners. To help you prepare, sample versions of the application documents are now available on their website. You can review them in order to have the required information on-hand when the application portal opens.

News: May 19, 2020  Government of Canada announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses. 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.

News: May 16, 2020  the Government of Canada will provide $15 million in additional funding to support women entrepreneurs through the Women Entrepreneurship Strategy (WES). This money will go directly to select organizations that are currently WES Ecosystem Fund recipients and will help women entrepreneurs through the COVID-19 pandemic.

News: May 15, 2020  Finance Minister Bill Morneau today announced that the Government of Canada will extend the CEWS by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. Extending the program will give workers greater confidence that they will continue to get the support they need during these difficult times. These regulations extend eligibility for the CEWS to the following groups:

  • Partnerships that are up to 50-per-cent owned by non-eligible members;
  • Indigenous government-owned corporations that are carrying on a business, as well as partnerships where the partners are Indigenous governments and eligible employers;
  • Registered Canadian Amateur Athletic Associations;
  • Registered Journalism Organizations; and
  • Non-public colleges and schools, including institutions that offer specialized services, such as arts schools, driving schools, language schools or flight schools.

News: May 14, 2020  CMHC has updated the CECRA for small businesses web page to include new details on the program. Added answers to questions that have been received concerning eligibility, role of property owner/landlord, mortgage requirements, and process. Visit the updated program page to get the latest details. It is anticipated that the application process will open in the second half of May.

News: May 14, 2020  In order to help businesses open safely, the Government of Ontario has developed an online resource called the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to help Ontario businesses identify suppliers for personal protective equipment (PPE) that will support employees’ safe return to work.

News: May 14, 2020  Ontario Announces Additional Workplaces that Can Reopen

News: May 13, 2020  Government of Canada - The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) provides $213 million in support to southern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been declined for, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures. The RRRF provides financial contributions (interest-free loans) to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

News: May 6 & 11, 2020  Ontario Further Eases Restrictions on Retail Stores and Essential Construction During COVID-19. The Ontario government is allowing all retail stores with a street entrance to provide curbside pickup and delivery, as well as in-store payment and purchases at garden centres, nurseries, hardware stores and safety supply stores.

News: May 1, 2020 Certain Businesses Allowed to Reopen Under Strict Safety Guidelines Steady Decrease in COVID-19 Cases Required Before Beginning Next Stage of Reopening.  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.

News: April 30, 2020 The Ontario government is ensuring employers have the safety guidelines they need to protect workers, customers, and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy. The 61 sector-specific guidelines are available from Ontario’s health and safety associations.

News: April 29, 2020 – In a Canadian first, IBM (NYSE: IBM) and the City of Markham – Canada’s high-tech capital – are using the artificial intelligence-driven virtual agent “IBM Watson Assistant for Citizens” to offer 24-hour customer service for residents looking for COVID-19 information. The solution will use AI and machine learning to enable the City of Markham to deliver reliable, consistent and accurate information conveniently to residents via online text chat and voice calls – anywhere, anytime.

News: April 28, 2020 The Ontario government is launching the COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers website to help businesses overcome the unique challenges created by the global pandemic. Businesses working to retool their operations to produce health-related products, or those that want to continue their operations in this new environment of physical distancing, can submit any potential roadblocks to the website. The province is prepared to allow temporary changes to provincial rules and regulations in order to remove any barriers that are hindering business and negatively impacting Ontario's supply chain.

News: April 24, 2020 - Prime Minister announces partnerships with provinces and territories to deliver the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA / OCECRA) for small businesses

  • This program will lower rent by 75 per cent for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.
  • The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent 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 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

OCECRA program details about how the program works, timelines, eligibility requirements, exclusions.

News: April, 24, 2020 - 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:

  • Bring Your Business Online. Eligible organizations and businesses can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to establish an online e-business and marketing presence. Funding under this stream will be quick and responsive for those needing immediate solutions.
  • Develop Online Business Opportunities. Eligible organizations, businesses and collaborations can apply for cost-share funding of up to $75,000 to implement high-impact projects.
  • More information about this targeted intake and the program guidelines can be found online at: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/index.htm or by calling: 1-877-424-1300.

News: Apr 16, 2020 The Government of Canada is:

  • Expanding the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to businesses that paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. This new range will replace the previous one of between $50,000 and $1 million, and will help address the challenges faced by small businesses to cover non-deferrable operating costs.
  • Announcing its intent to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June.

News: Apr 14, 2020 — Ontario Extends Declaration of Emergency to Continue the Fight Against COVID-19 the Declaration of Emergency has been extended until May 12 (including the closure of all non-essential workplaces).

Markham Approves Tax and Fee Relief for Residents and Businesses

Benefits for Businesses:

    • No late payment (penalty and interest) charges for non-residential property taxpayers from October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020
    • Deferral of the 2020 Stormwater Fee, a savings of $560 for a property valued at $2M
    • Elimination of the April 1, 2020 water rate increase of 7.8%
    • Suspension of the Municipal Accommodation Tax from April 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020, to provide relief to hoteliers

FAQs about various government-announced programs: 

Canadian Federation of Independent Business Help Centre (up-to-date FAQs about new and existing programs announced by government, including timelines, amounts, factors to consider and other details)

Financial supports:

(Note: please carefully consider taking advantage of business loan/credit solutions to ensure it makes sense for your business; for some, the cash flow is critical, for others, taking on additional debt may be challenging – let us know if you’d like to discuss msbc@markham.ca)

Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan (find details about Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) $40,000 interest-free loan program; extension of the maximum duration of the Work-Sharing program from 38 weeks to 76 weeks; Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) $2,000 per month for up to 4 months; Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) up to 75% for up to 3 months; the Temporary Wage Subsidy (10% up to $1,375 per employee/$25k per organization); access to additional credit; interest free extension of income tax filing and payment deadlines; and financial market support)

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) details about Canada's $25 billion program that provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000). Get answers to questions like: How can I apply?  What are the eligibility requirements?  Are any Borrowers excluded?  Are there any restrictions on how I can use CEBA funds?

Additional info about the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) from the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC)  the CECRA will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May and June. In this way, CECRA will provide relief for small businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in gross rent that have either been forced to close due to the pandemic or have had their revenues severely impacted by at least 70 per cent. CMHC will administer the program on behalf the Government of Canada and provincial and territorial partners.  May 14: Added answers to questions that have been received concerning eligibility, role of property owner/landlord, mortgage requirements, and process.  It is anticipated that the application process will open in the second half of May.

Government of Canada - The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) provides $213 million in support to southern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been declined for, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures. The RRRF provides financial contributions (interest-free loans) to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

CRA: Helping Canadians with the economic impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic (Canada Emergency Response Benefit  CERB  $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income; extension of tax-filing and payment deadlines; Emergency Care benefit $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks; Emergency Support Benefit, Goods and Services Tax Credit payment; Canada Child Benefit payments; Registered Retirement Income Funds; Temporary wage subsidy for employers)

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) As a Canadian employer whose business has been affected by COVID-19, you may be eligible for a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 12 weeks, retroactive from March 15, 2020, to June 6, 2020. This wage subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers previously laid off as a result of COVID-19, help prevent further job losses, and better position you to resume normal operations following the crisis.

Details on How to Apply: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS); what to prepare before you apply, who is an eligible employer, determine your eligible employees, calcualate your subsidy amount, and more.

Temporary Wage Subsidy (for employers who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) listed above, find details to check eligibility for this alternate program). 10% of the remuneration you pay from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, up to $1,375 for each eligible employee and to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer.

Canadian small or medium sized enterprises pursuing technology driven innovation who are not eligible for funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) are eligible and can apply for financial assistance under IRAP IAP which provides a wage subsidy for up to 12 weeks to employers. Salaries are the only eligible cost. No other costs will be covered under the IAP.

WSIB Financial Relief: allows businesses to defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. Businesses who report and pay monthly, quarterly or annually based on their insurable earnings are eligible for this deferral.

Time-of-Use Rates Suspended for 45 Days The Government of Ontario is providing temporary 45-day emergency relief to support Ontarians impacted by the global COVID-19 outbreak. As of Tuesday, March 24, 2020, households, farms and small businesses who pay time-of-use electricity rates will be charged off-peak rates 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Business Development Bank of Canada (access additional credit/financing resources, including postponement of payments for up to 6 months)

News: Wed Mar 18, 2020 Canada’s Six Biggest Banks Take Action (support will include up to a 6 month payment deferral for mortgages, and the opportunity for relief on other credit products – links to each bank are posted in the above – contact your bank for options)

For Exporters – access additional credit/financing resources

Business Supports: Reopening during COVID-19

Ontario Information about Essential Workplaces:

See the detailed list of Stage 1 businesses.

The government and health and safety associations have released more than 90 safety guidance documents to assist employers in multiple sectors, including construction, retail, facilities maintenance and manufacturing. As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional resources will be made available to help protect the safety of workers and the general public.

The Ontario government is issuing posters to promote a variety of useful safety tips. The posters offer helpful advice on physical distancing and sanitation. They are downloadable from the Ontario.ca website so employers can print and post them in their workplaces.

Read the list of essential workplaces in response to COVID-19 (2019 novel coronavirus). If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659)

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.

Government Procurement Opportunities for COVID-19 related supplies and services:

If you are a business that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19, Canada wants to hear from you (visit the website for a detailed list of products and services being procured).

The Government of Ontario is looking for help from businesses and organizations who can supply emergency products and innovative solutions to support the response to COVID-19.

Government of Canada, National Research Council seeking innovative solutions: (1) COVID-19 Challenges Procurement Program: respond to challenge statements issued by Public Health Agency of Canada and Health Canada, being faced by health providers to deal with COVID-19; (2) Pandemic Response Challenge Program: join dedicated teams to address challenges in the areas of greatest research and development need in the fight against COVID-19, funding is available.

Impact survey of COVID-19 on businesses in Canada:

The purpose of this survey is to measure the impact of COVID-19 on businesses in Canada.  Information collected is intended to help governments, chambers of commerce and business associations across Canada devise strategies and mechanisms to foster the survival and continuity of businesses in Canada. Your information may also be used by Statistics Canada for other statistical and research purposes.

Helpful resources/tips:

In partnership with the Government of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce established the Canadian Business Resilience Network to help Canadian businesses navigate the COVID-19 reality and prepare for recovery. This site and a supporting campaign will continue to grow in the weeks and months ahead as we work together to support and protect our businesses, our communities and our economy.

MaRS Discovery District collection of tools and tactics startups can use to prepare, plan and respond to COVID-19 (business implications to consider, general resources, global supply chain management, managing cash flow, people practices, remote work planning

Canadian Chamber of Commerce Pandemic Preparedness Guide

Mental health resources from the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (talking to your children and supporting loved onese; strategies for coping with stress and anxiety, questionnaires to assess your stress levels; dealing with self-isolation; reducing stigma and prejudice for those affected)

Events calendar with links to select program ‘how to’ expert webinars.

Support Markham Business

The Markham Board of Trade has set up this website to make it easy for you to find what's open and where you can buy locally. If you are a business and are open, promote your business hours, promos & more on their new website! Search for restaurants, retail and other service providers that are open.

How we can all rally to help Markham's small businesses

Don't have time to attend all the great business webinars being hosted right now?  Here are some of the top quick tips we've been hearing about, and what they mean for us and our local Markham small businesses:

What can we do?
What it means for small businesses
Buy a gift card / gift certificate from a local Markham business for yourself or a loved one
The immediate cash flow can be extremely helpful so make sure you have a way to issue and track redemptions
Order by phone or online for delivery / take-out /curb side pick-up
Consider offering curb side pick-up and online pre-payment to limit physical contact; in fact, certain essential businesses can now only sell by an alternative method such as curb side pick-up or delivery - www.ontario.ca/page/list-essential-workplaces#section-3
Leave positive reviews. Comment and share your support for local Markham businesses on their social media channels
Thank your clients and work on building / strengthening a loyal customer base.  Actively engage in genuine conversations on social media.  Let clients know what to expect during this disruption and that you are actively taking pre-bookings, or offering virtual solutions.
Attend a virtual/online session
Research virtual meeting tools and adapt your service delivery to an online / virtual platform
Don't cancel - ask to reschedule
Make sure to communicate alternatives to refunds, like offering credit / gift certificates for future redemption.  For non-profit, charitable organizations: offer another alternative option of getting a donation receipt for the value of their reservation / ticket instead of a refund
Book / reserve now for future service - this is a great way to show your support, even if you don't have the spending money right now
Even though you don't get immediate cash flow from this, keep track of these commitments and communicate these to your landlord and bank as supporting info of future demand for your services
Landlords - talk to your business tenants and give them the option to have you opt-in to mortgage deferral and tax deferral programs so you can pass on the savings to reduce their regular monthly rent payments for a temporary period.  Also consider the newly announced OCECRA
Talk to your landlord about your financial situation and try to work out an arrangement that works for both parties.  Available deferral programs could reduce your regular monthly rent payments significantly for a temporary period

Contact us at msbc@markham.ca if you'd like to discuss how these strategies could be leveraged for your business.


Update about our services during COVID-19 disruption

The City of Markham is committed to the health and safety of the Markham community, its small businesses and our employees. We are working closely with our Public Health colleagues at the regional, provincial and national levels concerning the evolving novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation.

Update regarding our small business advisory services:

  • The IBM Innovation Space – Markham Convergence Centre has made the decision to remain closed to the general public and guests until further notice.
  • In light of this, our physical point of presence will not be accessible to in-person visits from clients
  • To ensure continued access to our small business advisory services, MSBC will remain accessible by phone, email and web meetings for scheduled appointments

The situation continues to evolve quickly and while we anticipate these measures will remain in place until further notice, we continue to monitor and will provide updates as quickly as possible.

Thank you for your continued commitment to the health and safety of each other and the Markham community.

For up-to-date information about COVID-19, please visit york.ca/covid19


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Le services de la Centre d'encadrement des petites entrepreneurs do Markham (MSBC) est disponible en francais à la demand pour les programmes financé de l'Ontario. Cliquez ci-dessous pour en savoir plus.

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