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
As of April 27, 2020, eligible small and large businesses as well as nonprofits and charities can apply to receive a 75% wage subsidy until the end of August, retroactively applied from March 15, 2020.
This means that employees of subsidized businesses can expect to have 75% of their incomes covered up to a maximum of $58,700 (up to $847/week).
The following information regarding eligibility has been provided:
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.
The number of employees businesses have is irrelevant. This subsidy is to help both large and small businesses.
Businesses are expected to utilize this benefit on a good-faith basis. If business owners have the funds to cover employees’ incomes, they should provide this. The Prime Minister also encourages subsidized businesses to use funds to hire back employees that have been laid off over the past few weeks due to coronavirus.
Besides helping to prevent layoffs and work reductions, this aggressive financial measure will also spare employers from having to withhold and remit income tax on their employees’ wages.
Get discounted rent with Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
Businesses – including nonprofits and charities – can get a 75% rent decrease during April, May, June, July and August (2020) under the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance plan. The cost of this plan is being split between the government (50%) and property owners (25%) and is available in every province and territory. To be eligible, your business must be strongly affected by COVID-19 and you must be paying $50,000 per month or less on rent. Applications are now available on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website.
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.
Get taxpayer relief and use deferred tax deadlines to strengthen your cash flow
Businesses including self-employed people are allowed to defer GST/HST payments and customs duties for imports until June.
The deadline for filing individual taxes has been moved to June 1, 2020. The deadline for paying any amounts that become owing between March 18, 2020 and September 1, 2020 has been moved to September 1, 2020 – during this time period, no interest or penalty fees will be applied to taxes (including installments) that you owe the CRA. The deadlines for filing T2 Corporate Income Tax Returns or T3 Trust Income Tax Returns have been moved to September 1, 2020.
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.
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 25% loan forgiveness: Canada Business Emergency Account
The federal government is guaranteeing up to $25 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 $40,000 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 25% of it will be forgiven.
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. Check out our guide to the coronavirus outbreak for more resources and to stay on top of updates.
Frequently asked questions
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.
Coronavirus funding is new, so it’s likely that the government and other issuing organizations won’t know exactly how long the processing times will be. 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 a total of $350 million 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.
Besides the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, charities and nonprofits can also take advantage of Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA), in which commercial property owners are given free rent subsidies from the government if they agree to lower rent rates by 75% for the months of April, May and June (2020). If you’re renting a commercial space, speak to your property owner to find out if this option is available for your organization.
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.
Follow these steps to get government aid for businesses affected by the coronavirus.
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