News: January 15, 2021 - The Ontario government has opened applications for the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant. The grant, first announced in December, provides a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $20,000 to eligible small businesses who have had to restrict their operations due to the Provincewide Shutdown. The tightened restrictions were put in place to help stop the alarming rise of COVID-19 cases in Ontario.

Small businesses required to close or significantly restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for a one-time grant and use this funding in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business needs. For example, some businesses could need support paying employee wages, while others could need support with their rent.

Eligible small businesses include those that:

    • Were required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26.
    • Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level.
    • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019. New businesses established since April 2019 will also be eligible if they meet the other eligibility criteria.

More information about the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and other rebates is available on Ontario.ca/COVIDsupport

News: January 14, 2021 - Beginning this Saturday and Sunday, approximately 50 ministry inspectors, as well as local bylaw and police officers, will be visiting big-box stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham. The blitz will focus on ensuring workers and patrons are wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and following every health and safety measure. Workplace health and safety inspectors will have the authority to ticket supervisors, employees and patrons who do not comply with COVID-19 safety requirements, temporarily close a premise and disperse groups of more than five people.

The campaign targets workplaces with heightened risks that have been identified by using data from local public health units and information reported directly to the province. Inspectors will focus on workplaces in the following sectors:

    • Workplaces with reported COVID-19 outbreaks
    • Manufacturing
    • Warehousing
    • Distribution centres
    • Food processing
    • Publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential, such as grocery stores

News: January 12, 2021 - Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as going to the grocery store or pharmacy, accessing health care services, for exercise or for essential work. This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people's mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household. In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.

The government will enact the following additional public health measures:

    • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
    • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can't physically distance more than two metres.
    • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
    • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.

As part of the "Stay Safe All Day" campaign, inspectors will use a data-driven approach to focus on workplaces with reported COVID-19 outbreaks, manufacturing businesses, warehouses, distribution centres, food processing operations, construction projects and publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential, such as grocery stores. The Ministry is also using a new data-sharing program, in conjunction with the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the Retirement Regulatory Authority, to focus onsite inspections of long-term-care homes and retirement homes.

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.

News: January 4, 2021 The Ontario government is supporting home-based food businesses by providing a guide on how to start a home-based food business, which includes an overview of public health requirements that need to be followed as a food operator. To further support these entrepreneurs, the government has also made regulatory changes to allow more flexibility to sell low-risk, home-prepared foods.

Low-risk foods are considered non-hazardous and do not require refrigeration. They include items such as baked goods, pickles, jams and preserves, chocolates, hard candies and brittles, fudge and toffees, granola, trail mix, nuts and seeds, and coffee beans and tea leaves.

Home-based food businesses that prepare only low-risk foods are exempt from certain regulatory requirements, such as specified handwashing stations in food premises, compliance with commercial dishwashing requirements and food handling training certification.

News: December 21, 2020 - The Provincewide Shutdown will go into effect as of Saturday, December 26, 2020, at 12:01 a.m. Measures include, but are not limited to:

    • Restricting indoor organized public events and social gatherings, except with members of the same household (the people you live with). Individuals who live alone may consider having exclusive close contact with one other household.
    • Prohibiting in-person shopping in most retail settings - curbside pickup and delivery can continue. Discount and big box retailers selling groceries will be limited to 25 per cent capacity for in-store shopping. Supermarkets, grocery stores and similar stores that primarily sell food, as well as pharmacies, will continue to operate at 50 per cent capacity for in-store shopping.
    • Restricting indoor access to shopping malls - patrons may only go to a designated indoor pickup area (by appointment only), essential retail stores that are permitted to be open (e.g. pharmacy, grocery store), or, subject to physical distancing and face covering requirements, to the food court for takeout purchases. Shopping malls may also establish outdoor designated pickup areas.
    • Prohibiting indoor and outdoor dining. Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments will be permitted to operate by take out, drive-through, and delivery only.

The government is announcing the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help navigate this challenging period.  Eligible small businesses include those that:

  • Are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the Provincewide Shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26, 2020;
  • Have less than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
  • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

Starting at $10,000 for all eligible businesses, the grant will provide businesses with dollar for dollar funding to a maximum of $20,000 to help cover decreased revenue expected as a result of the Provincewide Shutdown. The business must demonstrate they experienced a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent when comparing monthly revenue in April 2019 and April 2020. This time period was selected because it reflects the impact of the public health measures in spring 2020, and as such provides a representation of the possible impact of these latest measures on small businesses.

News: December 18, 2020 - The Supporting Local Restaurants Act, 2020 will come into effect tomorrow, December 19, at 12:01 a.m. Food delivery companies will be required to limit the rates they charge to 20% for each transaction — with no more than 15% for commission for food delivery services. The cap applies in areas where indoor dining is prohibited, to help restaurants stay in business and continue contributing to their communities. If indoor dining is prohibited in new regions, the cap will also apply in those locations.

To support this change, the government will:

    • Provide food delivery company employees or contractors who perform delivery services with protection that their compensation will not be reduced in response to these changes.
    • Enable restaurants and food delivery company employees or contractors to file online complaints if they are charged fees that exceed the cap or if their compensation or payments are reduced.
    • Impose fines of up to $10 million to food delivery service companies that do not comply with the law.

News: December 11, 2020 - The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts, is moving York Region Public Health into Grey-Lockdown effective Monday, December 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

This means that only essential businesses can offer in-person services, such as grocery stores and pharmacies at 50% reduced capacity. Retailers will be allowed to offer curbside pickup and restaurants will only be allowed to offer take-out and delivery.

As a result of the lockdown, Markham community centres, including arenas and pools, as well as Markham Museum and the Varley Art Gallery will be closed until further notice. In-person fitness activities will also be suspended. Markham Public Libraries will see a reduction to three stand-alone locations and will offer contactless drop-off and pick-up. For further details about facilities, programs and services, visit www.markham.ca. We are offering virtual and outdoor programs, as well as fitness classes to stay active, social and engaged. Markham Civic Centre will continue to operate by appointment only. All essential municipal services will continue as usual and normal business activities will continue virtually.

News: December 10, 2020 - The zero per cent property tax rate increase will help Markham property owners to better weather these uncertain and challenging times that the community continues to deal with during COVID-19. The budget preserves, and in some cases exceeds, current service levels, and continues investments in Council-approved priorities in a responsible manner as we remain prudent with our assets while we push forward towards pandemic recovery.

News: December 4, 2020 - Starting on Friday, December 4, 2020, eligible businesses facing financial hardship as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic are able to access a second CEBA loan of up to $20,000 – on top of the initial $40,000 that was available to small businesses.

Half of this additional financing, up to $10,000, will be forgivable if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022.

This means the additional loan effectively increases CEBA loans from the existing $40,000 to $60,000 for eligible businesses, of which a total of $20,000 will be forgiven if the balance of the loan is repaid on time.

As announced in the Fall Economic Statement, the application deadline for CEBA has also been extended to March 31, 2021.

To apply, eligible businesses and not-for-profits need to contact the financial institution that provided their initial CEBA loan and provide the appropriate information and documentation.

News: December 3, 2020 - The Ontario government announced today that the Club canadien de Toronto has been selected to develop the Francophone Business Network. This new province-wide innovative online platform will help entrepreneurs share their expertise and best practices and form new strategic partnerships. The province is investing $250,000 to support the development of the Network.

News: November 26, 2020 - The Ontario government is introducing the Supporting Local Restaurants Act, 2020 which, if passed, would cap fees charged by food delivery companies in areas where indoor dining is prohibited, providing additional support for small and independent restaurants.

Currently, fees placed on restaurants by food delivery companies can reach as high as 30% in Ontario. The legislation, to be introduced today by Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, in addition to further regulation, would:

  • Limit the rates charged by food delivery service apps in areas where indoor dining is prohibited. Restaurants should expect a cap of 15% for delivery fees, with an overall cap of 20% inclusive of all fees;
  • Permit fines of up to $10 million to food delivery service companies that do not comply with the law;
  • Provide food delivery service company employees or contractors who perform delivery services with protection that their compensation will not be affected by these changes.

News: November 25, 2020 - The COVID-19 pandemic is an unprecedented and challenging time for Ontario’s workers and businesses. The majority of businesses are operating in safe and responsible ways to protect their workers and customers. However, there are still some businesses that need further assistance or clarification to understand the requirements to keep everyone safe.

That’s why we are doing community safety campaigns to educate businesses and workers on public health measures required under the Reopening Ontario Act. These campaigns are being developed in consultation with local public health units, police and by-law departments, and support Ontario’s COVID-19 Response Framework: Keeping Ontario Safe and Open.

On November 27, 28, and 29, officers will be visiting malls, power centres, and big box–retail stores.

Using resources provided by the Ontario government, businesses should:

News: November 23, 2020 - The National Ecosystem Fund will provide funding to Black-led not-for-profit business organizations to strengthen their capacity to provide support, financial planning services and business training for Black entrepreneurs and business owners. Black-led not-for-profit business organizations that serve Black entrepreneurs and Black-owned businesses are encouraged to apply through the National Ecosystem Fund National Ecosystem Fund web page by December 21, 2020.

The Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub will gather data on Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify critical gaps, barriers to success, and opportunities for growth. It will be jointly run by Black-led business organizations, in partnership with educational institutions. Black-led not-for-profit business organizations and educational institutions are encouraged to come together, develop an application, and apply through the Knowledge Hub web page by January 18, 2021.

News: November 23, 2020 - the CERS opened today to receive applications from qualifying organizations. These organizations can now apply directly for the subsidy for the period from September 27 to October 24, 2020 through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) My Business Account, or Represent a Client portals.
Applications for the second CERS period (October 25 to November 21, 2020) will open on November 30.

The new rent subsidy supports businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65% of eligible expenses.

Qualifying organizations that were required to shut down or significantly limit their activities under a public health order will have access to Lockdown Support, a top-up subsidy of 25%, meaning that they could receive rent or property expenses support of up to 90%.

News: November 22, 2020 - Meeting and event spaces, and other businesses, places, facilities or establishments, including special event venues, banquet halls, hotel conference rooms and convention centres which rent or otherwise make available any meeting and/or event space to:

  • Ensure all indoor and outdoor gatherings for religious services, ceremonies or rites in weddings, funerals and celebrations of life do not exceed the number of persons that can maintain a physical distance of 2 metres from each other
  • Ensure that, in no event, shall the gathering exceed a maximum of 50 persons
  • Comply with any applicable gathering limits under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROE)
  • Follow all further instructions from York Region Public Health pertaining to COVID-19 that apply to your business, place, facility or establishment

Shopping malls to:

  • Immediately set a maximum capacity for patrons in the shopping mall and monitor the capacity limit to ensure physical distancing of 2 metres is maintained by patrons and mall staff in common areas, stores, washrooms, hallways and entrances at all times
  • Immediately ensure all stores within the shopping mall set a maximum capacity limit, and actively monitor that capacity limit to ensure physical distancing of 2 metres is maintained by patrons and mall staff at all times
  • Actively manage all line-ups or patrons congregating and ensure all patrons waiting in line-ups inside or outside shopping malls maintain physical distancing of least 2 metres
  • Follow all further instructions from York Region Public Health pertaining to COVID-19 that apply to shopping malls

Retail stores to:

  • Immediately set a maximum capacity for patrons and actively monitor the capacity limit to ensure physical distancing of 2 metres is maintained by patrons and mall staff in common areas, stores, washrooms, hallways and entrances at all times
  • Follow all further instructions from York Region Public Health pertaining to COVID-19 that apply to retail stores

News: November 19, 2020 - The Ontario government is launching a series of education and enforcement campaigns to ensure businesses across the province are taking the necessary steps to keep employees, consumers and the public safe. These campaigns will support the current efforts of police, municipal by-law officers, and public health inspectors to educate businesses and enforce the COVID-19 health and safety requirements. Officers will be asking employers to produce their workplace safety plans.

If a person or business is not found compliant with orders under the Reopening Ontario Act, they could be ticketed with a fine of $750 under the Reopening Ontario Act. Where prosecuted without issuing a ticket and on conviction, individuals could be fined up to $100,000, and directors and officers of a corporation could be fined up to $500,000. Any individual convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act could also receive a term of imprisonment of up to one year. The maximum fine for a corporation convicted of an offence under the Reopening Ontario Act is $10,000,000.

Businesses requiring a workplace safety plan include:

  • Restaurants, bars, and food or drink establishments;
  • Sports and recreational facilities;
  • Meeting and event spaces;
  • Malls;
  • Personal care services;
  • Casinos, bingo halls, and other gaming establishments;
  • Cinemas; and
  • Performing arts facilities.

News: November 19, 2020 - The Ontario government is investing over $2.2 million through the Ontario Together Fund to provide small businesses with free, tailored financial advice and online training to help them make informed financial decisions and navigate the unprecedented economic circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario is providing $2,040,000 to support Ontario's 47 Small Business Enterprise Centres (SBEC) led by the Business Advisory Centre Durham to create a new Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network. This network will enhance the capacity of all SBECs across the province to expand their services, supporting businesses across the province.

News: November 16, 2020 - Businesses in modified Stage 2 regions or, going forward, in areas categorized as control or lockdown, can apply for rebates to help with fixed costs, such as property tax and energy bills. Find out if your business is eligible.

Rebates will cover the period of time that businesses are required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in areas subject to the targeted modified Stage 2 public health restrictions or, going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. The property tax rebates will be net of any federal support in respect of property taxes provided through the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), so that the rebate will cover costs beyond those covered by CERS.

News: November 13, 2020 - The framework changes are in response to the current data and trends, and will lower the threshold for each of the five levels for: weekly incidence rates, positivity rate, effective reproductive number (Rt), outbreak trends and the level of community transmission. Based on these new thresholds, York Region Public Health would be moved to the Red-Control level in the framework. Please visit Ontario.ca/COVID19 for the full list of public health region classifications that will come into effect as of Monday, November 16, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Assignments to the current levels would last for a minimum of 28 days or two-incubation periods, at which time the status of these public health unit regions will be reassessed on a weekly basis. However, movement to a more restrictive zone will be considered sooner if there are rapidly worsening trends.

News: November 10, 2020 - The Ontario government is proposing to give municipalities the flexibility to target property tax relief to small businesses. The province is also considering matching these reductions, which would provide small businesses with as much as $385 million in municipal and provincial property tax relief. This initiative is part of the 2020 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover.

News: November 6, 2020 - The Government of Canada is providing over $155 million to extend the National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program's (NRC IRAP) Innovation Assistance Program (IRAP IAP). IRAP IAP is an emergency wage subsidy provided to eligible firms on a priority basis. Funding will help support existing IAP recipients that are high-potential, small and pre-revenue firms that do not qualify for the government's wage subsidy measure.

News: November 3, 2020 - With international travel restricted due to COVID-19, the CanExport SMEs program is pivoting to now help small businesses:

    • develop and expand their e-commerce presence by covering partial costs associated with online sales platforms and digital strategy consulting, as well as advertising and search engine optimization
    • attend virtual trade shows and other business-to-business events
    • navigate new COVID-19-related trade barriers by helping pay for new international market certifications and requirements

Small business owners and entrepreneurs are encouraged to apply for CanExport SMEs program funding.

News: November 3, 2020 - In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, the Ontario government has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework. It ensures that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.

The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels: Green-Prevent, Yellow-Protect, Orange-Restrict, Red-Control, and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort. Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.

News: October 29, 2020 - The Ontario Made program is helping the province's manufacturing base regain and recover revenues lost due to COVID-19. Manufacturers and producers are encouraged to register and promote their products on the SupportOntarioMade.ca website and use the Ontario Made logo. Regional webinars where manufacturers can learn more about the program will be hosted by CME to increase the volume and variety of registered Ontario Made products for consumers.

Consumers can easily find these made-in-Ontario goods in the new online, searchable directory at SupportOntarioMade.ca. This includes products that are made in local communities, participating retailers and company profiles.

News: October 26, 2020 - As early as October 26, 2020, the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be available to businesses that have been operating out of a non-business banking account.

To be eligible, businesses must have been operating as a business as of March 1, 2020, must successfully open a business account at a Canadian financial institution that is participating in CEBA, and meet the other existing CEBA eligibility criteria. The deadline to apply for CEBA is December 31, 2020.

To assess their eligibility for CEBA, applicants can use the pre-screening tool on the CEBA website. To apply for CEBA, businesses should contact their financial institution and provide the appropriate information and documentation. Applicants may contact the CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201 to receive a status update on a completed application between Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. EST

News: October 20, 2020 - Starting on October 26, small businesses can apply online through the Ontario Chamber of Commerce for the next wave of Canada United Small Business Relief Fund grants.  The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund, which is managed by the OCC, is supporting Canadian businesses across different sectors and industries with grants of up to $5,000.

Applications are open to small businesses across sectors and industries in every part of the country that have between $150,000 and $3 million in annual sales; have up to 75 employees; are registered in Canada; and would use the grant to cover the costs of personal protective equipment, make physical modifications to their businesses to meet local health and safety requirements, and enhance their digital or e-commerce capabilities.

Canada United is a national fundraising campaign created by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) in collaboration with private sector partners and provincial and territorial chambers of commerce, including the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). The campaign has been rallying support from Canadians for local small businesses in every corner of the country.

News: October 16, 2020 - Effective Monday, October 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., York Region will join Ottawa, Peel and Toronto public health regions in a modified Stage 2. Measures under this modified Stage 2 include:

  • Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
  • Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
  • Closing of:
    • Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
    • Indoor cinemas, performing arts centres and venues, (except for rehearsing or performing a recorded or broadcasted performance subject to conditions, including no spectators)
    • Spectator areas in racing venues;
    • Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.;
  • Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming);
  • Prohibiting real estate open houses (permitting in-person showing by appointments only)
  • Reducing the capacity limits for:
    • Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
    • In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with certain exemptions, including for schools, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
    • Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors with limited exemptions, including for government operations and the delivery of government services; and
  • Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).

Schools, child care centres, and places of worship will remain open in these communities and must continue to follow the public health measures in place. Before-school and after-school programs will also continue to be exempt from these new restrictions and will remain open..

News: October 13, 2020 - To provide relief for local restaurants and other businesses impacted by the new public health measures, Ontario announced $300 million to help offset fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills. The government is also supporting small business through its Main Street Recovery Plan by:

  • Committing to permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order before the existing regulation expires;
  • Permanently allowing 24/7 deliveries to restaurants;
  • Supporting the distribution of local food and food products by increasing the range of products sold at the Ontario Food Terminal;
  • Ending outdated and duplicative rules so businesses can focus on their work;
  • Modernizing regulations to allow businesses to innovate and meet the challenges of today;
  • Providing mental health supports to business owners and employees who are struggling;
  • Providing $57 million with federal partners through the Digital Main Street program and creating new Digital Main Street squads to help small businesses grow online; and
  • Launching a new portal to assist small businesses to quickly find the supports and information they need.

News: October 9, 2020 - The Government of Canada plans to introduce legislation to provide support that would help these businesses safely get through the second wave of the virus and the winter, cover costs so they can continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery, including:

  • The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The rent subsidy would be provided directly to tenants, while also providing support to property owners. The new rent subsidy would support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.
  • A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy. This follows a commitment in the Speech from the Throne to provide direct financial support to businesses temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.
  • The new rent subsidy would pick up where the previous program left off, delivering direct, targeted, and accessible rent support to qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19 without the need to work through their landlords. It would provide a subsidy for eligible fixed property expenses, including rent and interest on commercial mortgages. Program parameters announced today apply until December 19, 2020 with future parameters in 2021 to be adapted and targeted as needed.
  • The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021, which would continue to protect jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encouraging employers to re-hire their workers. The subsidy would remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020. This measure is part of the government’s commitment to create over 1 million jobs and restore employment to the level it was before the pandemic.
  • An expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which would enable businesses, and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans—and that continue to be seriously impacted by the pandemic—to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. Additionally, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. Further details, including the launch date and application process will be announced in the coming days. An attestation of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will be required to access the additional financing.

News: October 7, 2020 - Announcement of Ontario's Main Street Recovery Plan and to introduce the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020, proposed legislation that would support small businesses and modernize rules to allow them to innovate and meet the challenges of today. The plan includes:

  • A one-time grant of up to $1,000 for eligible main street small businesses — in retail, food and accommodations, and other service sectors — with two to nine employees to help offset the unexpected costs of personal protective equipment (PPE);
  • Ontario's Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network, which links 47 Small Business Enterprise Centres across the province as places where small businesses can access tailored advice and information on local, provincial and federal programs;
  • Digital Main Street Squads to help small businesses grow online;
  • Mental health supports for families, frontline workers, young people, children, and Indigenous communities;
  • Ontario's Small Business Recovery Webpage to provide single window access to small business supports.

News: October 2, 2020 - The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, which helps support those who may not be eligible for other programs. Since the Fund was launched in May, over 12,000 businesses have been assisted through the RRRF, helping them keep their employees, cover costs, and protect almost 95,000 jobs across Canada. The RRRF has been a vital tool, supplementing the existing suite of federal relief measures to address the immediate needs of Canadians during the pandemic. Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) will deliver the RRRF in their regions.

News: October 1, 2020 - Minimum wage rates in Ontario increased on October 1, 2020. Under the Making Ontario Open for Business Act this increase is tied to the Ontario Consumer Price Index for 2020. The increase to the general minimum wage is 25 cents, which brings the new rate to $14.25 an hour.

News: July 20, 2020 - The Ontario government is allowing seven more regions, including Markham, York Region, to enter Stage 3 on Friday, increasing the number of businesses and public spaces that will reopen across the province. York Region will be allowed to move into Stage 3 on Friday, July 24, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Mayor Frank Scarpitti reminds us (July 20) that Stage 3 means we can support more local businesses but we should not let our guard down.

News: July 13, 2020 - Nearly All Businesses and Public Spaces to Reopen in Stage 3. 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.

Important: York Region will remain in Stage 2, until further notice.

News: July 9, 2020 — Effective Friday, July 17, 2020 as of 12:01 a.m., business owners and operators in York Region must have a policy in place to prohibit people from entering if they are not wearing a face mask or covering. Customers, employees and visitors who enter enclosed public spaces must wear a face mask or covering.

News: June 30, 2020 — The province's campaign asks for mayors, local leaders and groups to support our small businesses by committing on social media to "Shop Local, Shop Safe, Shop with Confidence," while highlighting the best practices put in place by businesses to help keep shoppers safe while ensuring that the reopening of Ontario continues to be a success. For example, the principles of the People Outside Safely Together (POST) Promise encourage small businesses to strictly follow health guidelines and reopen with appropriate measures in place, so consumers can shop safely and with confidence, including:

    • Washing and sanitizing hands
    • Maintaining physical distancing
    • Staying home if unwell
    • Practicing respiratory etiquette
    • Cleaning and disinfecting regularly

News reminder: June 29, 2020 — Markham Patio Extension Program officially launches July 2. Bars, restaurants and retail businesses who have successfully applied to the Temporary Use Zoning Bylaw to Permit Extended Outdoor Patios and Outdoor Display and Sales Areas are expected to begin offering outdoor services to provide safe spaces for residents to dine and to #ShopLocal. Read the Announcement

News: June 15, 2020 — The Government of Canada announced that as of Friday, June 19, 2020, applications will be accepted so that more small businesses can access the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). This means that owner-operated small businesses that had been ineligible for the program due to their lack of payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll will become eligible this week.

To qualify under the expanded eligibility rules, CEBA applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 will need:

    • A business operating account at a participating financial institution;
    • A Canada Revenue Agency business number;
    • A 2018 or 2019 tax return; and
    • Eligible non-deferrable expenses of between $40,000 and $1.5 million.

Eligible businesses will qualify for financing of up to $40,000, with 25 per cent of this being forgivable based on the current terms of CEBA loans. Businesses can contact their primary financial institution for more information or to apply directly for CEBA. More information on the expanded CEBA can be found on the program’s website.

News: June 8 & 15, 2020 — More people will be able to get back to work as additional businesses and services in certain regions across Ontario (including York Region/Markham) can begin reopening and are allowed to move into Stage 2 on Friday, June 19, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Businesses and services permitted to reopen with proper health and safety measures in place in regions entering Stage 2 include:

    • 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.

News: June 11, 2020 — The Ontario government, in partnership with the Government of Canada, is helping small businesses reach more customers through the Digital Main Street platform. It is a $57-million program which will help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence and generate jobs for more than 1,400 students.

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.

News: June 10, 2020 — The Government of Canada has partnered with the People Outside Safely Together (POST) Promise program, an initiative launched by Canadian private sector organizations. The “POST Promise” is a voluntary commitment that business owners and managers can make by following five key public health actions that will help prevent the spread of COVID-19: 

    • Maintaining physical distance
    • Washing and sanitizing hands
    • Cleaning and disinfecting regularly
    • Staying home if unwell and self-monitoring for symptoms
    • Practising respiratory etiquette (including wearing a mask when physical distancing is difficult)

By displaying the “POST Promise” logo, participating businesses can reassure customers that they are doing their part to help protect Canadians’ health and safety.

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).



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