Ontario Adds Supports for Small Businesses During COVID-19

A closed sign in a retail window representing small businesses impacted by the lockdown

Small business owners in the Greater Toronto Area have been heavily impacted from a financial standpoint in the past year, and many took an additional hit when the Ontario government instituted a provincewide lockdown effective December 26th. Because of the rising COVID-19 numbers throughout November and December, there is no indication of when the lockdown might end, particularly in more populous areas in the province.

The provincial and federal governments have implemented several subsidies and financial assistance options for individuals and businesses since the start of the pandemic in March 2020, to provide help to those who have been severely impacted by the business closures and shutdowns. Recently, the Government of Ontario announced a new program specifically for small businesses in an attempt to help them survive in these tough times, as they have generally been more severely impacted than large corporations stores, many of which have had an easier time continuing business in an online environment. The government recognizes the importance of supporting these smaller businesses, as many economists believe that it’s entrepreneurs that help generate growth in an economy.

What New Finacial Assistance Options are Available for Ontario Businesses?

Your business can apply online for funding from one or more of the following initiatives:

Ontario Small Business Support Grant: The new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will help small businesses that are required to close or significantly restrict services under the province-wide emergency measures that came into effect in late December. This grant will provide needed cash flow that will help small businesses maintain employees and pay rent, anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000.

Main Street Relief Grant for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE): This grant will provide up to $1,000 to a qualifying business for PPE costs to eligible small businesses across Ontario with 2 to 9 employees. This allows each small business owner to provide conditions that will make it safe for employees to work at the business once they are permitted to reopen.

Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebate Grants: These grants are intended for businesses that were required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures (modified Stage 2 restrictions under the earlier model or, going forward, in areas categorized as control, lockdown or provincewide shutdown). This application-based grant provides a rebate to eligible businesses in respect of property taxes and energy bills. If you own your business, this helps to reduce some of your fixed costs. If you rent your business location, your landlord may be able to take advantage of the rebate and, in turn, apply that savings to your total rent cost.

Businesses that qualify for the Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebate Grants are sorted out in the following categories:

Application Tips for the Provincial Grants

In order to complete the applications for the various grants, certain information will be required:

Main Street Relief Grant and Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebate Grant:

  • General business information (e.g. Business Number as provided by Canada Revenue Agency)
  • Banking information (e.g. banking institution, account number, branch code)

Main Street Relief Grant application:

  • Receipts or proof of costs for PPE purchased for the business since March 17, 2020

For the Property Tax Rebate and Energy Cost Rebate Grant:

  • Property tax bill or proof of costs associated with property taxes pertaining to the modified Stage 2, Control, Lockdown or Provincewide Shutdown period
  • Electricity bill and natural gas bill (or heating oil/propane bill) pertaining to the modified Stage 2, Control, Lockdown or Provincewide Shutdown period

Business Owners Should Seek the Assistance of Experienced Financial Professionals for Assistance 

The new programs involve several qualifying factors and timing requirements. Given the complexities involved, many business owners may wonder about the entitlement. For assistance, we recommend contacting an experienced professional accountant to ensure your company maximizes the benefit you are entitled to under the new assistance programs.

If you wish to become more familiar with the new legislation or have questions about your business’s eligibility or need assistance with applying for these subsidies, please contact the Chartered Professional Accountants at Edelkoort Smethurst Schein CPAs LLP by calling 905-517-2297 or by contacting us online.