RCC has assembled the COVID-19 relief measures that are specifically applicable to retailers. The information is broken down by federal programs and for each province.
Federal Relief Programs
Support for Retailers
Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
CEWS will be available for retailers and other businesses until June 2021. The subsidy is calculated based on the better of (a) the same current month/previous month year-over-year comparison as exists for the base CEWS; or (b) the three-month revenue decline compared year-over-year. For claims past July 5th there is no minimum revenue drop required to qualify for the subsidy. See overview
Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) and Lockdown Support Program
CERS provides a subsidy for eligible fixed property expenses, including rent and interest on commercial mortgages until June 2021. The program has been significantly adjusted to provide a subsidy up to 65% – or up to 90% if a store in closed due to a lockdown – until June 2021. See overview
Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
CEBA provides interest-free loans for retailers and other businesses, through their financial institutions, to help cover their operating costs during the pandemic. Retailers can borrow a total of $60,000, of which $20,000 will be forgivable if repaid by the December 31, 2022 deadline. See overview
Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) Overview
The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program aims to provide additional cash flow for businesses struggling with the pandemic. The program provides loans ranging from $25,000 to $1 million. See overview
The government’s Work Share Program is designed to help struggling retailers reduce staff costs while avoiding layoffs. Retailers who form a Work-Share agreement can reduce hours by 10% – 60% for up to 76 weeks while still keeping those staff. Retail franchisees will be treated as stand-alone businesses. See overview
Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CHRP)
The Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP) is a hiring subsidy program announced in the April 2021 budget. It can help you hire more staff even if you are still experiencing qualifying revenue declines between June 6 and November 20, 2021. See overview
Support for employees/individuals
Employment Insurance sickness benefits
Employees who are sick, quarantined or have been directed to self-isolate are no longer required to provide a medical certificate to access EI sickness benefits. The one week waiting period for benefits has been waived. View more information
Canadian banks have committed to work with their customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19. Most are allowing deferred payments for up to 6 months. Please contact your mortgage provider for more information. View more information
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COVID-19 Relief Measures by Region
|wdt_ID||Category||Relief Measure||British Columbia||Alberta||Saskatchewan||Manitoba||Ontario||Quebec||Nova Scotia||New Brunswick||PEI||Nfld & Lab|
|1||Support for business||Changes to EI regulations||Employers who have previously applied and been approved for a COVID-19 temporary layoff variance may jointly apply with affected employees to renew the variance. Employers must apply before the variance expires. As per the Employment Standards Act, variances only apply to non-unionized, non-excluded employees.||Temporary layoff provisions set the maximum temporary layoff period at 180 consecutive days for employees who are laid off for reasons related to COVID-19.||A number of amendments have been made to help employers manage staffing, work-sharing, layoffs and leave.||Employees who have laid off for 8+ weeks in a 16 week period are deemed to have been terminated, however, any period of layoff occurring between March 1, 2020 and the end of the State of Emergency will not be counted.||Ontario has extended the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) leave. Find out more.||N/A||Emergency Leaves provision protects employment during the state of emergency.
Rules around ending employment depend on the tenure of the employee.
NS Labour Standards Code - Sections 72 and 76 detail rules around termination of employment.
|Amendments to the Employment Standards Act provide protection to employees who take emergency leave related to the state of emergency. The timeline connected to the leave relates to the state of emergency.||Emergency leave provision protects employment during the public health emergency.||Amendments to the Labour Standards Act to create a communicable disease emergency leave, which provides protection to employees who take such leave due to sickness, orders to stay at home, etc.|
|4||Support for business||Essential service worker top up for retailers/Wage Subsidy||N/A||The Alberta's Critical Worker Benefit provides a one time payment to retail grocery, convenience, pharmacy, fuel station, warehouse and trucking workers. Eligible employees who earn less than $25 an hour and have worked a minimum of 300 hours between October 12, 2020 and January 31, 2021 will receive a one-time payment of $1200. Deadline to apply is March 19, 2021.||N/A||Manitoba Job Restart program paid CERB recipients returning to work bi-weekly payments of $500 each, for a total of $2,000 over six weeks. Program participants must voluntarily stop collecting CERB, and be returning to a job that provides at least 30 hours per week work.
Manitoba’s Risk Reduction Program provides a one-time grant to ALL qualified essential retail workers. The application deadline was June 29, 2020.
The Manitoba government had expanded its Back to Work in Manitoba Wage Subsidy Program that provides private-sector and non-profit employers up to $100,000 to subsidize 20 employees (up to $5,000 per employee) hired since July 16, 2020. The application process is now closed.
|There is no top up for retailers in Ontario, and the Ontario Government is not considering extending the top up to retailers.
The Ontario program currently focuses on Health Care, Long Term Care and Correctional Services.
|N/A||N/A||Retail does not qualify for essential service top up.||A one-time payment of $1,000 was offered in 2020. This program has ended.||A program was offered for frontline retail employees who worked between March 15-July 2, 2020. The application deadline passed on February 26, 2021.|
|6||Support for business||Additional financial support||The Launch Online Grant program provides grants up to $7,500 to eligible small and medium-sized B.C. businesses to create an online shop and/or improve their e-commerce experience. The application portal is now closed, but eligible businesses who have submitted will continue to be reviewed for approval until funds are fully allocated.
The B.C. increased employment incentive is a one-time refundable tax credit for eligible employers. The credit is 15% of the amount that the employer’s total eligible remuneration for all eligible employees in the qualifying period of October 1, 2020 to December 31, 2020 exceeds the employer’s total eligible remuneration for all eligible employees from July 1, 2020 to September 30, 2020. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2021.
The B.C. PST Rebate on Select Machinery and Equipment allows businesses to apply to receive an amount equal to the PST they paid between September 17, 2020 and March 31, 2022 on qualifying machinery and equipment. Most non-consumable goods used in a business qualify for the rebate. Businesses can submit a single application between April 1, 2021 and September 30, 2021 and a second application between October 1, 2021 and March 31, 2022, and a third application between April 1, 2022 and September 30, 2022. Businesses that didn’t submit an application during the first application period, can submit up to 2 applications in the second application period. Businesses that didn’t submit applications during the first two application periods can submit up to three applications during the third period. Applications close September 30, 2022.
|Alberta has announced an immediate acceleration of the Corporate Income Tax rate, dropping it to 8% as of July 1, 2020.||PST will be removed from Manitoba business property insurance beginning July 1, 2020.
Manitoba Public Insurance (MPI) returned up to $110 million to provide financial relief to its commercial and personal policyholders, as a result of fewer claims. In January 2021 policy holders will receive an additional rebate of approximately $100 per policy.
The Dine-in Restaurant Relief Program helps restaurants who have been hit by code-red restrictions and have had to transform their businesses to a meal-delivery service model due to public health orders.
The Manitoba government has announced a new summer-focused Manitoba Youth Jobs Program that will provide employers a 50 per cent subsidy on wages paid to eligible employees during the program period of May to September 2021. The program is retroactive for recently hired students, and offers a maximum of up to $25,000 per employer.
|Ontario permanently increased the payroll exemption for the Employer Health Tax (EHT). In 2019, that exemption amount was set at $490,000, meaning that eligible employers did not have to pay EHT on the first $490,000 of their payrolls. The province also increased that exemption amount to $1M for eligible employers.
Historically, Ontario also supported retailers by deferring 10 Provincial Business Taxes.
|N/A||Small business loan guarantee program||Eligibility for the NB Small Business Recovery Grants has been extended to non-essential retail businesses that were in the lockdown areas of the province. More information||Web Presence Assistance is available through Innovation PEI to assist companies with setting up e-commerce sites. The program funding was recently increased and will now provide 50% of eligible costs for ecommerce sites up to a maximum of $2,500 or 50% for traditional websites up to a maximum of $1,000.|
|7||Support for business||Commercial renters||Alberta passed legislation to provide rent eviction protection. The act's protections applied from March 17, 2020 to September 30, 2020.||Commercial eviction protection is available for small and medium sized businesses. The moratorium applies to landlords that were eligible to apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program but choose not to.||A Commercial Rent Assistance moratorium was in place through until September 30, 2020. It applied specifically to landlords or tenants that were eligible for, but have not applied for the CECRA program.||The Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA) will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners. To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75% and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months.
An eviction moratorium also applies to all tenants who may apply to the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small business program.
|N/A||During the state of emergency, landlords are not permitted to change locks or seize property of businesses who cannot pay rent, if the business closed directly because of COVID-19 public health orders.||N/A|
|8||Support for business||Other business supports||Education property tax rates will be frozen at last year’s level. Collection of non-residential education property tax for businesses will be deferred for 6 months.||The Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) provided a $5,000 payment to small and medium-sized enterprises directly affected by government public heath orders related to COVID-19. The application window is now closed||A Support Call Centre to help Manitoba businesses affected by COVID-19 navigate through the various support programs is available.
Free Clean It Right Training Program
|All municipal time-of-day delivery restrictions have been lifted for food, medication and essential household items until the emergency orders are lifted.
The Ontario Together Fund designed to help businesses retool operations and/or innovative solutions to issues stemming from COVID-19 including essential medical supplies and equipment, gowns, coveralls, masks, face shields, testing equipment and ventilators.
|N/A||To help employers, job seekers, and communities connect during COVID-19, the virtual job-matching platform JobMatchNB, is available to help employers find potential workers and to help people find job opportunities.||PEI Broadband Fund has been expanded to support equipment and installation of Mi-Fi units and Wi-Fi Signal Boosters for businesses and the self-employed.
PEI's Tourism Interest Relief Program has been extended until September 30, 2022. Retailers that are locally owned and cater primarily to tourists are among the businesses eligible to apply through this portal.
Funding of up to 75% of the eligible costs of purchasing a tablet to a maximum of $525 per tablet for businesses that must implement the PEI Vax Pass. See press release and
|9||Support for small and medium business||Grants||Small and medium-sized businesses that have been operational for a minimum of eighteen months and have experienced a minimum revenue drop of 30% are eligible for the Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant. There is an additional grant for tourism-related businesses. The program was expanded to include businesses that are temporarily closed, seasonal businesses, and sole proprietorships. Applications for this program closed on July 2, 2021||The Manitoba government has announced it will be extending the Healthy Hire Manitoba Program to November 15, and the application deadline to October 30. Under the Healthy Hire Manitoba Program, eligible employers will receive a grant equivalent to 50 per cent of wages for a maximum of 10 fully vaccinated employees, with a maximum of $5,000 per employee. The wage support covers full pay periods for employees hired on or after June 10, with the last pay period ending November 15, 2021.||The Ontario Small Business Support Grant will provide up to a maximum of $20,000 to eligible small businesses whose operations have been restricted due to the provincewide shutdown.
If your business employs between two to nine employees, there is a one-time $1,000 grant you can apply for the Main Street Relief Grant for Personal Protective Equipment to cover the costs of PPE purchases since March 17, 2020.
|N/A||NB Small Business Recovery Grants. More information.||N/A|
|10||Support for small and medium business||Government loans||Alberta Treasury Branches (ATB) Financial small business customers can apply for a payment deferral on loans and lines of credit for up to 6 months as well as access additional working capital.||N/A||NB Small Business Emergency Working Capital Program. Detailed listing of support programs (Pages 2-5).
View summary of support programs.
|Eligible small businesses can apply to receive a working capital loan of up to $100,000 with a fixed interest rate of 4% per annum.|
|11||Support for small and medium business||SME-Other||Saskatchewan businesses which are unable to remit their PST due to cashflow concerns will have three-month relief from penalty and interest charges.
Saskatchewan’s small business corporate income tax rate drops from 2% to 0% effective October 1, 2020.Then beginning July 1, 2022, the small business tax rate will move to 1%. And on July 1, 2023, the small business tax rate will return to 2%. The amount which small businesses can earn at the small business tax rate will remain at $600,000.
|Businesses with retail sale tax remittances and Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Levy returns of no more than $10,000 per month were eligible for an interest and penalty-free payment deferral to June 30, 2021. The province has also extended the previous interest and penalty-free repayment option set to expire March 31, 2021, until June 30, 2021.||The Helping Main Street Go Digital program provides support for small business looking to grow their eCommerce business.
In addition, eligible main street small businesses with fewer than 10 employees can help offset the unexpected costs of personal protective equipment.
|12||Support for individuals/employees||Financial support for individuals||Eligible working Albertans were able to receive a one-time emergency isolation support payment of $1,146 if they experienced loss of income as a result of having to self-isolate and have no other source of compensation, such as workplace sick leave benefits or federal EI. Applications are available here.||Saskatchewan Temporary Wage Supplement Program provided $400 per month for eligible lower-income workers.
For individuals who are isolated and not covered under EI by the recent federal announcement, the province will provide $450 per week, for a maximum of two weeks.
|Manitoba’s Risk Reduction Program provided a one-time grant to ALL qualified essential retail workers. The application deadline was June 29, 2020.||N/A||N/A||New Brunswick Public Drug Plan: For the duration of the state of emergency, patients will only be responsible for the initial co-payment on a prescription fill or refill.|
|13||Support for individuals/employees||Childcare for retail employees||Childcare sourcing is available for anyone working in an essential service, including retail.||N/A||Child care will now be made available to people who work in the food supply chain (including Truck Drivers with Class A and Class D licenses), grocery stores and pharmacies, among other businesses. A list of emergency child care centres and more details are available.||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A||N/A|