We’ll continue to update this page with resources and information as political leaders and business owners develop their plans to respond to COVID-19.
Unlike loans, grants are disbursements of money you don’t have to pay back. They come with no fees and often without any spending stipulations, although sometimes a business will be required to invest some of its own time, effort and money into a venture to be eligible for a grant.
While most of the financial support offered by the Canadian government to businesses affected by coronavirus is in the form of loans, there are some opportunities to get “free money” to help your enterprise stay afloat.
Search the Innovation Canada database to find grants and other sources of funding
Innovation Canada has a website has a large database of programs and services – including grants – available to businesses from private and public sources. Use the search tool to find opportunities that could suit your business. Resources include:
Partnerships and collaboration opportunities
Advice and expertise
Subsidize employees’ incomes with the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
Until June, 2021, eligible businesses as well as nonprofits and charities can apply to receive a wage subsidy for specific 4-week “claim periods.” The number of employees businesses have is irrelevant — this subsidy is to help both large and small businesses. Funding does not automatically renew. Business owners must reapply for each claim period after the period is over.
The Prime Minister encourages businesses to use these funds to hire back employees that have been laid off due to COVID-19.
For claim periods 1-4 (March-June, 2020)
Employees of subsidized businesses can expect to have 75% of their incomes covered up to a maximum of $58,700 (up to $847/week). Business revenues must have decreased by at least 30% as a result of coronavirus. Business owners can use sales figures from January and February (2020) to demonstrate their losses. Additionally, they only need to show a 15% drop in revenue during March, given that most businesses didn’t feel the effects of COVID-19 until half-way through the month.
For claim periods 5 and onwards (July, 2020 – present)
For claim periods 5 and onwards (July, 2020 – present), employees of subsidized businesses can expect to receive a base rate percentage that varies depending on how much revenues have dropped. If your business has lost more than 50% of revenues, an additional top-up rate will also apply. The maximum rate a business can receive as of claim periods 8-10 (October–December, 2020) is 65%. Check the Government of Canada website to get the latest information for the current claim period.
Get extended Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) support
In April 2020, the government introduced the Innovation Assistance Program (IAP) to support innovative small- and medium-sized businesses with high potential. If you received this support between April 1 and June 23, 2020, you may be eligible to receive extended IAP funding that was made available in November, 2020. However, you can’t get IAP support at the same time as the CA Emergency Wage Subsidy or BCAP financing. Former IAP recipients will be contacted with more information.
Get discounted rent with Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy program provides rent subsidies of up to $75,000 per business location and up to $300,000 per business group (including any affiliate entities). Eligible businesses include for-profits, non-profits and charities. There is no minimum revenue drop required to qualify.
The actual amount businesses will receive is a base rate percentage that will vary depending on how much revenues have dropped. Businesses located in areas affected by public health restrictions may also qualify for an additional 25% through the Lockdown Support program. You can apply through your CRA My Business Account or through the Government’s “Represent a Client” service. Visit the Government of Canada website for more details.
Note: In October, 2020, the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) was introduced to replace the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program. New applications for CECRA stopped being accepted as of September 30, 2020.
Get payroll support through the Work-Sharing program
If you aren’t infected but can’t work because of the impact coronavirus has had on your business, you and your employees may be eligible for income support under the government’s Work-Sharing program. This program is available to help employers avoid layoffs when their normal level of business activity is temporarily reduced in a way that is beyond the employer’s control.
To apply, employers and employees must sign and submit a Work-Sharing agreement at least 30 days before the requested start date. In light of coronavirus, the government has extended the maximum duration of Work-Sharing agreements for certain businesses from 38 weeks up to 76 weeks.
Business eligible for extended funding include those experiencing a financial downturn due to coronavirus as well as those in the forestry, steel and aluminum sector. See the Employment and Social Development Canada website for more information and to apply.
Apply for taxpayer relief
Where there is difficulty in making payments, the CRA is very flexible in arranging payment plans. Affected taxpayers may also be eligible to receive relief by submitting Form RC4288 Request for Taxpayer Relief – Cancel or Waive Penalties or Interest; requests are evaluated on a case-by-case basis.
[No longer available] Deferred tax deadlines in 2020
In 2020, businesses including self-employed people were allowed to defer GST/HST payments and customs duties for imports until June.
The deadline for filing individual taxes was moved to June 1, 2020. The deadline for paying any amounts that become owing between March 18, 2020 and September 1, 2020 was moved to September 1, 2020 – during this time period, no interest or penalty fees were applied to taxes (including installments) that were owed to the CRA. The deadlines for filing T2 Corporate Income Tax Returns or T3 Trust Income Tax Returns was moved to September 1, 2020.
Additional ways to finance your business
Grants aren’t widely available or substantial enough to cover most small business needs during the outbreak. You’ll likely need to combine them with other types of funding.
If you need money fast, look into more traditional cash flow solutions like business lines of credit and business loans. Talk to your bank, or consider applying online. Online lenders tend to have a fast turnaround and more flexible requirements — though they can sometimes be more expensive. Small businesses and nonprofits in particular might also want to apply for other types of business grants to cover costs.
Get an interest-free loan with 33% loan forgiveness: Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
The federal government is guaranteeing up to $55 billion in interest-free loans to eligible small businesses. This will help such companies cover costs in the coming months as the economic impact of COVID-19 continues to unfold.
Lines of credit up to $60,000 will be available with a 0% interest rate to businesses that spent between $20,000 and $1,500,000 total on payroll in 2019. Once approved, businesses should be able to receive funds within a few days. If your loan is repaid by the end of 2022, then 33% of it will be forgiven (up to $20,000).
If you already applied for a CEBA under the previous lending limit of $40,000, you can apply for a $20,000 expansion to bring your total funding up to the current limit of $60,000. You have until March 31, 2021 to apply regardless of whether you’re a first-time applicant or applying for an expansion. Visit the Government of Canada website for more information.
Need funding fast? Apply for an online business loan today
Coronavirus business grants aren’t readily available. But this could change over time as the impact of COVID-19 becomes clearer. If you want to explore financing options that have become available during COVID-19, take a look at our guide on the government’s Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).
That depends on factors like the type of grant you’re applying for, the number of applications received and whether you include all the components that are required with application. Failing to submit everything properly can cause delays.
If any of your employees are ill with coronavirus or you become ill, it’s possible your funding applications will be prioritized as this is what’s happening for applications submitted for personal forms of income support like Employment Insurance.
In the end, you’ll have to check with the department or organization providing the grant to find out what your wait time will be.
An interest-free loan is funding you don’t pay any interest on, but it still has to be paid back in installments. So, if you’re lent $25,000, you’ll have to pay back $25,000 but no interest charges will apply. Some interest-free loans may come with an application fee or origination fee for setting up and administering the loan. On the other hand, you don’t have to repay grants, and there typically aren’t any fees either.
In light of COVID-19, charities and nonprofits will receive hundreds of millions of dollars more from the government to help support the community services these organizations offer to the public. While some of these funds will go to smaller, independent frontline organizations, much of it will go to national organizations like the United Way, Community Foundations Canada, and the Red Cross, given that these organizations are scaled to distribute help quickly.
Stacie Hurst is an editor at Finder, specializing in loans, banking products and money transfers. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Writing, and she completed one year of law school in the United States before deciding to pursue a career in the publishing industry. When not working, she can usually be found messing around with games, photography or floral arrangements in memory of her former days as a flower shop assistant.
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