COVID-19 Relief Programs by Region

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

Work-Share Program

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

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

Mortgage support

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

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 may jointly apply with affected employees to extend the temporary layoff period through a variance under the Employment Standards Act, provided that more than 50% of affected employees approve of the variance. More information 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 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.
Recent amendments to the Employment Standards Act provide protection (retroactive to March 12) 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. Recent 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.

Government had extended temporary layoffs to twenty-six weeks in a period of thirty-three consecutive weeks. This provision was retroactive to March 18, 2020 and ended on September 18, 2020.
2 Support for business WCB WorkSafe BC has deferred premium payment deadlines for Q1 and Q2 for employers who report and pay on a quarterly basis until October 20, 2020. Employers who report annually will not be impacted because they do not report payroll or pay premiums until March 2021. WorkSafeBC will now be requiring employers to report payroll for both Q1 and Q2, even though collection is deferred, whereas the original deferral encouraged but did not require reporting for Q1.

WorkSafeBC will waive premiums on wages paid to furloughed (employees on leave with full or partial pay) workers of employers receiving CEWS subsidies.
All employers can defer WCB premium payments until 2021. For small and medium businesses, the government will cover 50% of the 2020 premium when it is due in 2021 – saving businesses $350 million. Saskatchewan Workers Compensation Board (WCB) waived premium penalties for employers effective April 1 until July 31, 2020 that has now concluded. All contributing employers have received a credit to their WCB accounts based on 20% of their 2019 premiums. From March to August, Ontario delayed all WSIB premium payments. All businesses that participated in this financial relief package will have until June 30, 2021 to repay deferred amounts, interest-free. Deferred amount payments can be made in one or multiple installments between January and June 30, 2021. Employer premium payments will continue to be deferred until October 2020; interest and late payment fees will be waived until further notice. Monthly premium placements have resumed. Deferral of employer premium payments will be collected in three equal amounts in June, July and August. Employer assessments have been deferred until September 30, 2020: All new employer payroll audits have been deferred. Employer premium payments will continue to be deferred until August 31, 2020; interest and late payment fees will be waived until further notice.
3 Support for business Provincial tax filing extension Businesses with a payroll over $500,000 can defer their employer health tax payments until Sept. 30, 2020. Businesses with a payroll under $500,000 are already exempt. Employer health tax payments for the 2020 calendar year will be due in four monthly instalments between December 31, 2020 and March 31 2021.

Payments for provincial sales tax (PST), hotel tax, carbon tax, motor fuel tax and tobacco tax are deferred to Sept. 30, 2020.

The scheduled increase to the carbon tax rate, and the application of PST to e-commerce transactions and sweetened carbonated drinks, are delayed until further notice.
Alberta corporate income tax balances and installment payments due between March 18, 2020 and August 31, 2020 were deferred until August 31, 2020 to increase employers’ access to cash so they can pay employees, address debts and continue operations. Saskatchewan offers a number of tax and utility deferral options. Provincial and corporate income tax filing was extended to August 31, 2020. The CRA allowed all businesses to defer any GST/HST payments or remittances that become owing on or after March 27, 2020, and before June 2020. This means that no interest will apply if your payments or remittances are made by the end of June 2020. The new deadline to pay taxes (without penalties or fees) will be July 31 to pay any corporate taxes or make any scheduled installment payments. Some payments and fees were deferred until June 30, 2020.
Apply to waive late fees on property taxes into July 2020

Income tax payment deferral on or after March 18 and before September 2020

Deferral of up to 6 months on existing provincial loans (interest and principal)

Detailed listing of support programs (Pages 2-5).
N/A Certain tax return filing dates have been extended until August 20, 2020: Applicable to taxes including gasoline, carbon, health & post secondary education, etc.
4 Support for business Essential service worker top up for retailers/Wage Subsidy Retail is not included in B.C.'s essential service worker top up. The Alberta's Critical Worker Benefit provides a one time payment to retail grocery, 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 will pay 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.
Essential service workers can receive $400 per month (for 4 months) for employees who work in essential service businesses and who earn less than $2,000 per month. N/A Retail does not qualify for essential service top up. Essential retail service workers, considered individuals who have been working through the pandemic and make less than $3,000 for a four-week period, could receive a one-time payment of $1,000 through their employers. Retailers who are eligible to apply include pharmacy, grocery, appliance, automotive, home improvement, health and wellness and electronics retailers. Eligibility requirements include hours worked and gross monthly income earned during March 15-July 4, 2020. Employers need to apply on behalf of their employees. The deadline for applications has been extended to February 26, 2021. View announcement and more information.
6 Support for business Additional financial support 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.
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.
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) will give $4 billion to support Québec companies temporarily impacted by the crisis. Funding is available for Island businesses to advertise locally over the holiday season. Innovation PEI will determine who gets funding. Retailers based in PEI can apply (see link for details) for assistance in local advertising costs between November 15-December 31, 2020.

Emergency Payment for Workers is available for any workers or self-employed individuals who have either completely lost their income or have had their hours reduced by at least 12 hours/week for December 7-21 directly due to the public health order. Applications should be sent from employees directly and the government will aim to turn around payments within a week.

An Employee Gift Card Program will provide $100 grocery cards for workers laid off due to the recent public health order (December 7-21). Employers must apply on behalf of their employees.

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 Small businesses eligible for rent support from the federal government under the CECRA program will be protected from evictions by an order under the Emergency Program Act. Eligible businesses whose landlords choose not to apply for the federal CECRA program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments. The order restricts the termination of lease agreements and the repossession of goods and property. More information here. 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. The province had declared that no commercial landlord could give any tenant any sort of notice to quit, re-enter or re-possess demised premises or exercise any right of distress, until May 31, 2020 for non-payment of rent that came due after March 19, 2020. This declaration was not renewed. Small to medium sized retailers and businesses who have closed due to the impacts of COVID-19 were able to access the Commercial Lease Rent Deferral Program until the end of April 2020. Reporting responsibilities for landlords continue into the Fall of 2021. N/A
8 Support for business Other business supports Insurance Corporation of British Columbia announced that a personal vehicle can now be insured if used for the delivery of food and medical products. This delivery exemption is to assist those companies who deliver essential goods and whose service model has changed due to COVID-19. It does not apply to companies and drivers who provide delivery services in normal times. In addition, fleet vehicle customers whose vehicles are temporarily not in use may suspend insurance amid COVID-19 and will waive cancellation and re-plating fees for those who cancel their car insurance.

Certifications for Pesticide Applicators and Dispensers which expire in April and May have been extended to September 30, 2020 and October 31, 2020 respectively.

The government has temporarily deferred renewal fees until September 30, 2020 for those liquor licensees experiencing financial hardship due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

WorkSafeBC has extended first aid certificates with expiry dates between Mar 1-Aug 31, 2020 for 180 days beyond their original expiry date. Certificates will not be reprinted, and no further action is needed to qualify for an extension.

A temporary change will allow restaurants, cafés and bars will be allowed to pay the wholesale price of the products they order.
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.
The Concerted Action Program for Maintaining Employment (French), will help prepare for a return to work after the COVID-19 crisis and will allow employers to keep employees.

A financial incentive of $100 per week has been granted to Quebec food producers to ensure they can pay local labor costs if workers cannot be brought in from Mexico or Guatemala due to COVID-19 related precautions.

In response to ongoing recommendations by RCC in Quebec, The Ministère du Travail, de l’Emploi et de la Solidarité sociale has agreed to develop a temporary web platform that will enabling businesses offering essential services or commercial activities to publish job offers that quickly reach workers looking for a job.

The government is launching a digital platform, “Le Panier bleu“, which will identify Quebec products that can be ordered to help alleviate supply chain pressures in Quebec and, at the same time, help support local growers, manufacturers and producers.
$161 million will be made available to address cash flow and provide access to credit for small- and medium-sized businesses. 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. COVID-19 Special Situations Fund for businesses and organizations that do not qualify for other federal or provincial funding programs

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.

Retailers temporarily have the option of either charging customers $0.15 per paper checkout bag (the current, legislated approach) or to provide customers with paper checkout bags, free of charge.
Compensation available for private sector employers with staff that had to self-isolate due to COVID-19 travel restrictions

General contingency fund of $200 million will be available
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 has also been expanded to include businesses that are temporarily closed, seasonal businesses, and sole proprietorships. Small and Medium Enterprise Relaunch Grant provides up to $5,000 in grants to retailers that faced restrictions or closures from public health orders, and experienced a revenue loss of at least 50% due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding can be used for a range costs such as physical barriers, PPE and cleaning supplies, as well as rent, employee wages, replacing inventory and more. The Strong Recovery Adaptation Rebate (SRAR), will assist companies who have adapted their businesses to address COVID-19 challenges, such as changing the use of square footage of their stores, installing physical infrastructures to comply with COVID-19 mitigation guidelines, and upgrading technology such as websites.

The Re-Open Saskatchewan Training Subsidy reimburses 100% of the employee training costs up to a maximum of $10,000 to support eligible businesses to be able to operate safely under COVID. The application deadline has been extended to March 31, 2021.
The Manitoba Bridge Grant will provide $10,000 to businesses (retail, restaurants, etc.) directly impacted COVID operating restrictions. The deadline for applications has been extended to January 31, 2020. More info

The province has announced that it will be converting the existing $6,000 Manitoba Gap Protection Program from a loan into a grant, and relaxing the eligibility rules so people who have also accessed federal grants or loans can access provincial assistance as well. The program has paid out approximately $60 million to 9,800 businesses in Manitoba. These are important changes RCC has been calling for.

The Back to Work Wage subsidy program has also been adjusted, and will now provide immediate, early cash advances of $1,500 per worker hired or rehired at businesses that have already applied. The initiative covers 50% of wage costs between July 16 and December 31, 2020. Employers can be supported to hire up to 20 employees. Applications for this program will continue to be received between now and Dec. 1, with the balance of payment issued by Feb. 1, 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 Small Business Reopening and Support Grant – Application deadline has been extended to July 17. Independent, Nova Scotian owned retail businesses are eligible for a grant of 15% (up to $5,000) of the business’s revenue from sales for the month of April or May 2019 or February 2020. The retailers must have: leased or owned retail premises, total annual sales of more than $25,000 and less than $300,000, and experienced a loss of monthly sales in April or May 2020 of more than 30% compared to April or May 2019.

Grants of up to $5,000 are available to help small businesses reopen safely.
N/A Eligible small businesses can receive a grant of up to $3,750. 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 COVID-19 Small Business Credit and Support Program (applications now closed). 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. Retailers / other businesses: several additional measures have been announced including: extending the current deferral of loan payments to six months.
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.
Small and medium businesses were able to can defer payroll taxes and PST remittance up to $10,000 until June, 2020. 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.
Deferring payments & interest for government loans; business related fees (until June 30) and loan payments under the small business loan guarantee program.

View programs to assist small businesses.

See full list of small business funding
COVID-19 Special Situations Fund for businesses and organizations that do not qualify for other federal or provincial funding programs
Category Relief Measure

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