COVID-19 Relief Measures 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.

Links to Federal support resources:

Support for Retailers:

  • Wage Subsidies (CEWS): Any retailer who had seen at least a 30% decrease in revenue was and remains eligible for a 75% wage subsidy for its employees for the months of March, April, May and June. The 75% wage subsidy is available regardless of the size of the business or how many people it employs. The subsidy is on the first $58,700 an employee earns, so up to $847 a week. The program remains available for up to 16 weeks between March 15 and July 4, 2020. 
  • Work-Sharing: To help retailers whose sales have slowed reduce staff costs while avoiding layoffs, the government simplified the application to the EI Work-Sharing program and extended the length of a work share agreement to over a year: 76 weeks. Retailers who form a Work-Share agreement with a unit of workers and Service Canada can now reduce hours by 10% – 60% for up to 76 weeks while still keeping those staff. Staff eligible for EI receive EI Work-Sharing benefits during the agreement. Retail franchisees will be treated as stand-alone businesses. To apply, retailers can go to the COVID-19 Work-Share government page.
  • Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA): CEBA will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small retailers, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. Business owners can apply for CEBA through their banks and credit unions.
  • Loans: There are other lending programs which may be available through your financial institution, including:
  • More time to pay taxes: Retailers can defer, until September 1, 2020, the payment of any balances and instalments under Part I of the Income Tax Act due on or after March 18 and before September 1, 2020.
  • Employers who rely on experienced temporary workers to ensure Canadians have access to a variety of high quality foods are eligible for 
  • Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF): For small and medium sized retailers and other businesses who haven’t met the eligibility requirements for existing COVID-19 government assistance, the government announced further measures to help fill in these gaps. Through the new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), nearly $1 billion has been allocated to help these businesses and will be administered through Regional Development Agencies (RDA) and Community Futures Development Corporations. Read RCC’s summary of programs available.
  • Large Employers Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF): Relevant for retailers who have annual revenues of $300 million or more and are seeking financing of $60 million or more. This loan program must be repaid. Applications are now being accepted.

Support for employees/individuals:

  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB):  The government will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 every 4 weeks for up to 28 weeks to eligible workers who have stopped working or whose work hours have been reduced due to COVID-19.
  • 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.
  • Extra time to file income tax returns: Individuals had until June 1, 2020 to file their taxes. Any payments owed have been deferred until after August 31, 2020 without incurring interest or penalties.
  • 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. 

More information:


Regional information below includes:

  • Access to direct financial support such as grants and loans
  • Supports available specifically for small and medium businesses
  • Employee wage subsidies
  • Tax deferrals and filing extensions
  • Essential service worker top up for employees including which regions retail qualifies
  • Support for commercial renters including implications for each region regarding CECRA
  • Support available directly to retail employees

Please note interactive table may take a minute to load. Information on all provinces is available. To customize to your regions, click the “Columns” button and choose which provinces you would like to display. See demo

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 Government expects that the recovery period will extend beyond August 30 and is taking steps to reduce a large backlog of applications to the Employment Standards temporary layoff variance process. An expedited online application for employers who have ensured that more than 50% of employees who will be affected by the variance approve is available here, with the hope that this will help to streamline the process. 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 until January 2, 2021. 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) is waiving premium penalties for employers effective April 1 until June 30, 2020. All contributing employers will receive a credit to their WCB accounts based on 20% of their 2019 premiums. As of March 25th, all WSIB premium payments will be deferred for 6 months. In the interim, the Province will cover all employee claims. 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 are 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 will be extended to August 31, 2020.

The province has extended filing deadlines for small and medium-sized businesses with monthly remittances of no more than $10,000 for the April 2020 through to September 2020. This extension applies to sales tax and the Health and Post-Secondary Education Tax Levy, commonly called the payroll tax. Initially the deferral was only to apply to April, May and June 2020.
The CRA will allow 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. N/A 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 has 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.
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 August 20, 2020. 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) is returning up to $110 million to provide financial relief to its commercial and personal policyholders, as result of fewer claims during this COVID period, coupled with strong year-end financial results. Rebates will be based on what policyholders paid last year and expected to be around 11%, with rebates distributed by the end of May or early June 2020.
On March 25th, 2020, Ontario announced that 10 Provincial Business Taxes will be deferred until at least Aug 31st, interest & penalty free including the Employer Health Tax, all fuel taxes, beer and wine taxes.
- For the Employer Health Tax, the minimum payroll amount of $490,000 will be increased to $1,000,000 for 2020. That means businesses with payrolls less than a million will not have to pay any EHT. For eligible private-sector employers with payrolls up to $5 million, the first $1 million of total Ontario remuneration is exempt, increasing the exemption to $19,500 for 2020.
- The Provincial portion of Property Tax will be deferred for 90 days (Education payments).
- Ontario is postponing property tax reassessment for 1 year. Assessments for the 2021 taxation year will continue to be based on the same valuation date that was in effect for the 2020 taxation year.
The Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ) will give $4 billion to support Québec companies temporarily impacted by the crisis. The Telework Adaptation Fund offers up to $2,500 to eligible businesses and organizations to help ensure their employees have what they need to work from home at least two or three days a week. The funding can be used for things such as developing a remote work plan, buying office equipment, or subscribing to online business platforms. Applications will be accepted until October 30, 2020.
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 apply from March 17, 2020 to August 31, 2020 and allow government to create a regulation to extend the dates.
Commercial eviction protection is available for small and medium sized businesses. The moritorium applies to landlords that are eligible to apply for the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program but choose not to. The emergency order restricting commercial evictions is effective immediately. The Commercial Rent Assistance joint program for small businesses with the federal government's Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), which provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19 is valid for the months of April, May, June and July. 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.

Most retailers do not qualify, but retail and commercial landlords who defer lease payments for April – June for businesses that had to close directly due to the public health order will be able to claim losses (up to $500 per month to a max of $50,000), if the renting business does not continue operating.
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 COIVD-19 can access the Commercial Lease Rent Deferral Program. Landlords who defer rent payments of commercial tenants for three months (May-July) could be eligible for financial assistance (up to a maximum of $50,000 per landlord and $15,000 per tenant) if the deferred rent can’t be recovered. 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) provides a payment to small and medium-sized enterprises directly affected by government public heath orders related to COVID-19. Payments are paid based on 15 per cent of a business's monthly sales revenue, to a maximum of $5,000. 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 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 Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment (SSBEP) provides a payment to small and medium-sized enterprises directly affected by government public heath orders related to COVID-19. Payments are paid based on 15 per cent of a business's monthly sales revenue, to a maximum of $5,000. Manitoba’s wage subsidy program, now making available up to $100,000 in financial support to retailers and other businesses that bring back or hire new employees. The “Back to Work program” will reimburse employers 50% of total wages paid between July 16 and October 31, 2020, to a maximum of $5,000 per worker for a total of 20 employees.

The Manitoba Gap Protection Program loans will be forgivable on Dec. 31, 2020 if the recipient attests at that time the business has not received any major non-repayable federal support such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account.
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.
Eligible small businesses can receive a grant of up to $3,750.
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. The Manitoba Gap Protection Program will provide interest-free loans of up to $6,000 to small and medium sized business. The loans will be forgivable on Dec. 31, 2020 if the recipient attests at that time the business has not received any major non-repayable federal support such as the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Canada Emergency Business Account. 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. Small and medium business can defer payroll taxes and PST remittance up to $10,000 until June The Helping Main Street Go Digital program provides support for small business looking to grow their eCommerce business.

All 10 Provincial Business Taxes will be deferred until at least Aug 31st, interest & penalty free including the Employer Health Tax, all fuel taxes, beer and wine taxes. See above, under "Additional financial support" for more details.
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

Be heard. Save money. Stay informed.

Become a member