COVID-19 Relief Programs by Region

NOTICE: This page regarding COVID-19 information and protocols may be out of date. RCC members looking for clarification regarding this resource are asked to email

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

A temporary Local Lockdown Program was proposed federally in late 2021/early 2022, during the Omicron surge, to help with some of the financial losses. Retailers who can meet this program’s financial decline and capacity reduction criteria may qualify for a subsidy. Full store closure is not required.  See overview.

Qualifying retailers may be eligible for subsidies to support payroll growth, whether through new hires, higher wages, increased hours, or the return of laid-off staff. The CRHP runs until at least May 2022. However, you can still apply for open claim periods until their deadlines have passed. See overview

This program is intended to provide targeted wage and rent support for businesses hit hardest by the pandemic. Retailers who can show revenue declines of 50% or over in the current month and a historical 12 month 50% revenue decline may be eligible for relief. See overview.

Retailers who form a Work-Share agreement with Service Canada can temporarily reduce their employees’ weekly hours for up to 76 weeks while still retaining their staff. Employment Insurance helps make up some of the difference in employee income. See overview.

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provided interest-free loans of up to $60,000, of which $20,000 is forgivable if repaid by the deadline. The repayment deadline, initially the end of 2022, has been extended to December 31, 2023. Applications for the CEBA are closed. See overview.

EI and other income support for people working in retail

Individuals affected by Covid-19 can access various types of Employment Insurance benefits, including sickness benefits, if they qualify. Workers who do not qualify for EI may be able to access other types of federal employee benefits. View more information.

Mortgage support

Early in the pandemic, Canadian banks committed to work with their customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19. Please contact your mortgage provider for more information. View more information.

More information

Relief Programs by Region

Updated January 20, 2022

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.

Additional financial support

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 closed September 30, 2022.

Updated January 17, 2022

Restriction Exemption Program Grant

The Restrictions Exemption Program Implementation Grant provides a one-time payment to eligible businesses, cooperatives and non-profit organizations that choose to implement the Restrictions Exemption Program.

Restriction Exemption Training

Free online safety training is also available to provide workers with information and resources they need to keep themselves and customers safe while implementing COVID-19 safety requirements.

SME-Other (Support for small and medium business)

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.

Updated January 17, 2022

Sector Support Program

The Sector Support Program is a $22 million program that provides assistance to businesses affected by the COVID-19 public health order restrictions during the Omicron variant, including restaurants, movie theatres, gyms, museums and others.

Updated January 12, 2022

Changes to EI regulations (Support for business)

Ontario has extended the Infectious Disease Emergency Leave (IDEL) leave. Find out more.

Additional financial support (Support for business)

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.

Commercial renters (Support for business)

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.

Other business supports (Support for business)

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.

Grants (Support for small and medium business)

The Ontario Small Business Support Grant will provide  $10,000 to eligible small businesses whose operations have been restricted due to the provincewide shutdown.

Energy and property tax support

Retailers that were required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures as a result of the provincial modified Step 2 public health measures announced can apply a grant, to reduce provincial property tax and electricity costs in proportion to capacity restrictions (e.g. if retail capacity reduced by 50%, then 50% of property tax and electricity costs will be relieved for eligible businesses). More information.

Updated January 17, 2021

Business support measures:

Businesses subject to a closure order starting from December 20, 2021, to protect the health of the population in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, can again submit a financial assistance application under the Assistance for Businesses in Regions on Maximum Alert (AERAM) section of the Emergency Assistance Program for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (PAUPME).

The Emergency Assistance Program for Small and Medium-Sized Businesses (PAUPME) seeks to support, for a period no greater than six months, the working capital of SMEs to enable them to maintain, consolidate, or revive their activities.

The financial assistance addresses the need for the working capital required to maintain the operations of the business and is determined based on justified and reasonable expenses, as well as on a recovery plan showing good prospects of profitability in the medium term. The funding must offset cash-flow problems stemming from:

  • The inability or significantly reduced capacity to deliver products (goods and services) or merchandise;
  • Problems in obtaining raw materials or products (goods or services);
  • Slower resumption of the operations of the business due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The assistance granted will take the form of a loan or loan guarantee of up to a maximum of $50,000.

As part of the recovery of operations of a business, additional assistance of up to a maximum of $50,000 may be added to funding already granted under the program..

The total value of the financial assistance granted to a business may not, however, exceed $150,000 at any time within a 12-month period. 

Applications for financial assistance under the PAUPME must be submitted not later than four weeks after the lifting the health emergency.

For applications of $50 000, the Concerted Temporary Action Program for Business (PACTE), administered by Investissement Québec, is still in place.

Changes to EI regulations (Support for business)

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.

Essential service worker top up for retailers/Wage Subsidy (Support for business)

Retail does not qualify for essential service top up.

Additional financial support (Support for business)

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

Other business supports (Support for business)

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.

Grants (Support for small and medium business)

NB Small Business Recovery Grants. More information.

Government loans (Support for small and medium business)

NB Small Business Emergency Working Capital Program. Detailed listing of support programs (Pages 2-5).

View summary of support programs.

Financial support for individuals (Support for individuals/employees)

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.

Updated April 12, 2022

Applications For Sector Impact Support Program

Small retailers impacted by the latest public health restrictions may be eligible for the Sector Impact Support Program.  This one time grant is available to help small business owners in industries like gyms and those providing music lessons.  See more information including eligibility requirements.

Province extends Paid Sick Leave Program

The province’s COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Program has been extended until May 7, 2022. The program reimburses eligible employers who provide paid sick leave to employees who must self-isolate due to COVID-19. The program is set up to serve as a bridge for workers who must self-isolate but do not yet qualify for federal assistance programs. The extension will allow this provincial program to end at the same time as Canada’s Sickness Recovery Benefit.

Changes to EI regulations (Support for business)

Additional financial support (Support for business)

Small business loan guarantee program

Commercial renters (Support for business)

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.

Changes to EI regulations (Support for business)

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.

Essential service worker top up for retailers/Wage Subsidy (Support for business)

A program was offered for frontline retail employees who worked between March 15-July 2, 2020. The application deadline passed on February 26, 2021.

Updated January 20, 2022

Changes to EI regulations (Support for business)

Emergency leave provision protects employment during the public health emergency.

COVID-19 Wage Rebate

The PEI government has launched its 25% COVID-19 Wage Rebate to assist businesses that have been closed between January 19-31.  Cinemas are able to apply but retail and quick service restaurants are not eligible. For more information.

Essential service worker top up for retailers/Wage Subsidy (Support for business)

A one-time payment of $1,000 was offered in 2020. This program has ended.

Additional financial support (Support for business)

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.

Other business supports (Support for business)

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 

Small Business COVID-19 Support Grant ($2,500-$7,500) to cover overhead costs related to COVID-19 restrictions from November 2021: cinemas are the only RCC members who would qualify to apply.  See more details.

Government loans (Support for small and medium business)

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.