COVID Supports For Business
Here is an overview of various funding programs supporting businesses in St. Catharines.
Federal / Provincial COVID-19 Support Programs for Businesses
- NEW - Tourism Relief Fund
The Tourism Relief Fund (TRF) supports tourism businesses and organizations to adapt their operations to meet public health requirements while investing in products and services to facilitate their future growth.
With a national budget of $500 million over two years, including $50 million dedicated to Indigenous tourism initiatives, this Fund will help to position Canada to be a destination of choice when domestic and international travel is once again safe, by:
- empowering tourism operators to create new or enhance existing tourism experiences and products to attract more local and domestic visitors
- helping the sector reposition itself to welcome international visitors by offering the best Canadian tourism experiences we have to offer the world
Who can apply?
Applicants must fall under one of the following parameters to be eligible for funding:
- A key supplier/operator in the visitor experience
- A key supplier/operator in the visitor experience is one that provides the infrastructure and services necessary to support a tourism economy, connects tourism products to potential markets, leads planning for sustainable destination development and supports capacity building/skill development in the sector.
- Part of a defined tourism cluster or tourism-dependent community
- A tourism cluster is a geographic concentration of businesses and organizations involved in tourism, linked by common and complementary products and services that are tailored to the visitor economy and supported by a network of services and associated institutions. A tourism cluster can include, but is not limited to, a community or region that is dependent on tourism for economic activity or is transitioning towards a more tourism-focused local economy.
- An anchor product or service in a destination
- An anchor product or service in a destination is defined as a key asset that serves as a motivator of travel to the region. It is the activity or product that provides the catalyst for the visitor to visit the destination. Anchor products may be operated by for-profit or not-for-profit organizations.
NOTE: Eligible applicants may fit under more than one of these categories and will have the opportunity to select all and explain how in the Application for Funding.
Eligible applicants must be part of the tourism ecosystem and will include tourism entities that cater mainly to visitors. Eligible applicants include:
- incorporated businesses, primarily small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)
- not-for-profit incorporated organizations (including tourism associations and destination marketing organizations)
- co-operatives (for-profit and not-for-profit)
- municipalities, Municipal Development Corporations, and related entities
- post-secondary institutions
- Indigenous/First Nations/Métis Settlement owned businesses or organizations, an Indigenous organization such as Indigenous-led not-for-profits and - organizations which include but are not limited to First Nations as represented by their Chief and Council, Tribal Councils, Indigenous Representative Organizations, - Métis and Inuit organizations and Settlements
Businesses that are in the following industries are normally not eligible under this initiative:
- retail sector
- hotel chains
- COVID-19 Resources
Businesses can access free training and assistance, including:
- the workplace safety plan toolkit
- live webinars on how to operate a business safely and comply with COVID-19 health and safety requirements
- a 30-minute online course on infection prevention and control provided by the Public Services Health and Safety Association.
Assistance and support for small businesses is available from:
- the Provincial Employment Standards Information Centre
- the Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre.
- Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program
The Government of Canada has announced the launch of the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program, or HASCAP which will provide financial support to businesses.
Businesses heavily impacted by COVID-19 can access guaranteed, low-interest loans of $25,000 to $1 million to cover operational cash flow needs. These loans are for small and medium-sized businesses that have seen their revenues decrease by 50 per cent or more as a result of COVID-19.
The HASCAP Guarantee is available until June 30, 2021.
Flexible and competitive terms
Benefit from a low-interest loan and a repayment term of up to 10 years. Up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan.
This HASCAP Guarantee is available until June 30, 2021.
The Government of Canada has mandated BDC to provide a guarantee to your financial institution for 100 per cent of the value of a new term loan, to increase your company’s ability to access new credit.
How to apply
Contact your primary financial institution to find out more. Important: You can apply at one financial institution only.
Below are some of the eligibility criteria established by the Government of Canada. Your primary financial institution will determine whether you qualify for this program based on the eligibility criteria established by the Government of Canada. Neither BDC nor your financial institution has the authority to grant exceptions to eligibility criteria.
- Your business must have been financially stable and viable prior to the current economic situation.
- You must have received payments either from the Canada Emergency Subsidy (CEWS) or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) by having demonstrated a minimum 50% revenue decline for at least three months (not necessarily consecutive) within the eight-month period prior to the date of the HASCAP Guarantee application.
- The loan will be used to continue or resume operations.
- The loan cannot be used to pay or refinance existing debt or lease facilities nor can you use it to pay bonuses, dividends, etc.
- Your business is Canadian-based.
- Other eligibility requirements may apply.
Download this one-page HASCAP Guarantee reference sheet and have it on hand to help guide your conversation, as you explore ways that the guarantee can help your financial institution consider your request.
The program will be available at some participating financial institutions as of February 1, 2021. Other participating financial institutions will deploy the program progressively over the days that follow.
- Ontario Property Taxes and Energy Bill Rebates
Businesses that are, or were, required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures can apply for rebates, provided in the form of grants, to help with their fixed costs.
Support is available for businesses that either:
- are, or were, required to close or significantly restrict services as a result of being under control or lockdown restrictions in the current framework
- were required to close or significantly restrict services as a result of being under “modified Stage 2” restrictions in the previous framework
Eligible businesses could get rebates for:
- municipal and education property taxes
- energy costs*, including electricity and natural gas (or where natural gas is not available, propane and heating oil)
- *Businesses struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19 may also be eligible for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB), which you can apply to through your utility provider.
Most businesses can expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of submitting a complete application.
Learn More and Apply
- Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) provides a direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage subsidy of up to 65% of eligible expenses to qualifying businesses, charities and non-profits. This support is available directly to tenants.
Qualifying organizations that have been significantly restricted by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority can receive an additional 25% of rent support through the Lockdown Support.
The combined effect of the rent subsidy and the Lockdown Support is that hard-hit businesses, non-profits and charities subject to a lockdown can receive rent support of up to 90%.
- Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB)
The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).
If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period.
If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.
- Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
Canadian employers who have seen a drop in revenue due to COVID-19 may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of employee wages, retroactive to March 15.
Applications for the CEWS claim period 9 (October 25, 2020, to November 21, 2020) are now open. The deadline to apply is January 31, 2021.
- Canada Recovery Hiring Program (CRHP)
The Canada Recovery Hiring Program is now open for applications.
The new CRHP provides eligible employers with a subsidy of up to 50 per cent of incremental remuneration paid to eligible active employees between June 6, 2021, and November 20, 2021.
Canadian employers who continue to be impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to apply for one of the two subsidies to cover part of their employee wages. The CRHP and the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) support wages you pay through different phases of your economic recovery. Each claim period, eligible employers can claim either CRHP or CEWS, whichever is higher.
- Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is intended to support businesses by providing financing for their expenses that cannot be avoided or deferred as they take steps to safely navigate a period of shutdown, thereby helping to position businesses for successful relaunch when the economy reopens.
This $55 billion program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).
CEBA will soon be expanded to enable businesses and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans - and that continue to be seriously impacted by the pandemic - to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022.
Additionally, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. An attestation of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will be required to access the additional financing.
As of October 26, 2020, eligible Canadian businesses currently operating through a personal bank account will be able to apply for CEBA.
- Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)
Get the cash flow you need during the COVID-19 pandemic by working with your financial institution and EDC.
The BCAP is a guaranteed credit program for Canadian small and medium-sized businesses to cover payroll and operating costs caused by the current economic situation. The EDC will guarantee 80% of your new operating line of credit or new term loan and offers a flexible term with repayment over 5 years with a benefit of 6 months principal payment postponement.
- COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB)
Applications for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) are open.
Small businesses and charities behind on their payments due to COVID-19 can apply now.
Natural gas and electricity utilities across Ontario, such as Alectra Utilities, are now making the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business available. You may be eligible for an enhanced credit if your small business or registered charity’s main heating source is electricity. If you have natural gas service, you may also be able to apply separately for natural gas CEAP-SB support through your natural gas utility.
The program is funded by the Government of Ontario and provides $8 million to support small business and registered charity customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. The COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business provides a one time, on-bill credit to eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments.
You are eligible for this program if you meet all of the following criteria:
- As of the date you are applying, your small business or registered charity has an active account with an electricity distributor or a unit sub-meter provider. You will be required to provide your registered business number or registered charity number.
- Your small business or registered charity is using less than 150,000 kWh of electricity annually if the account is with a unit sub-meter provider.
- Your small business or registered charity is classified as a general service < 50 kW customer if the account is with an electricity distributor.
- Your small business or registered charity did not have any overdue amounts on its electricity bill on March 17, 2020, the date of the Provincial Declaration of Emergency, or made at least partial payments on amounts overdue prior to March 17, 2020.
- As of the date you are applying, your small business or registered charity has any overdue amounts owing from at least two electricity bills since March 17, 2020.
- Your small business or registered charity was required to close* its premises to members of the public for regular operations for at least fifteen days as a result of a government order or an inability to adapt your business or charity to comply with public health recommendations.
City Support for Businesses
- COVID-19 Non-residential Property Tax Deferral Program
COVID-19 Non-residential Property Tax Deferral Program
The City of St. Catharines is offering tax relief to non-residential property owners to provide support from the COVID-19 pandemic.
This new program is open to owners of the following non-residential properties who can demonstrate financial hardship related to COVID-19. If the application is approved, property tax payments can be deferred from July 31 and Oct. 30 to Nov. 30, 2020.
- occupied commercial
- shopping centre
- parking lot or
- office property
This application-based program offers assistance to commercial property owners who have no other financial options and who continue to experience severe financial impacts. Property owners with tenants are expected to transfer the benefits of this deferral to their tenant, in order to support our local business owners.
Applications must be accompanied by documents that demonstrate financial hardship from excessive business revenue loss or temporary business closure, or some other financial hardship related directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.
All other property taxes and subclasses do not qualify for the deferral, including residential, multi residential, new multi residential, farm landfill, managed forest, vacant land, excess land, farmland awaiting development, industrial, large Industrial and all payment in lieu.
Other Support Programs for Businesses
- SPECIAL OFFER - AllChecked.In
SPECIAL OFFER – AllChecked.In is helping small businesses get back on their feet by offering one month free to Ontario businesses for its premium pre-screening app service. After the first month, businesses can choose to continue with their premium plan or downgrade to the Essential tier, which is 100 per cent free!
AllChecked.In provides a simple and secure way for establishments to offer a contactless Check-In portal. Designed to be hands-off, AllChecked.In offers businesses a modern solution to customer logs. The solution operates by requesting information of customers and securely storing it, providing access only if requested by Health Authorities.
AllChecked.in was designed to be easy to use, not only for your customers but also for your business. With the platform, you will be able to manage your locations yourself
Visit AllChecked.In online and create an account. Select either the Standard or Pro plan and enter promotional code OntarioDSS on the checkout page to redeem your free month.
- Digital Main Street
St. Catharines main street small businesses could be eligible for a $2,500 digital transformation grant through Digital Main Street.
The program is focused on assisting main street small businesses adopt technologies.
Read about how a Digital Transformation Grant helped Little Chief and Co. during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Digital Service Squad
Our Digital Service Squad is ready to help support main street businesses in our downtown, in Port Dalhousie and on Queenston and Facer streets adapt to the online world.
The squad will be reaching out soon to provide one-on-one support on enhancing your online presence.
Meet the Squad
- Google Ad Credit
LIMITED TIME OFFER: Google is offering a $150 Ad credit for all small businesses in Canada.
Discover how Google Ads can help you bring in more business by reaching the right people at the right time. Google Ads will match your ad spend up to $150.
- Free Business Listing on loveSTC.ca
Join our campaign encouraging St. Catharines to shop local and help customers find you with a FREE business listing on lovestc.ca.
List your operating hours, pickup and delivery options, dining room status, health and safety guidelines, promotions and events and more so customers know before they go.
All businesses, including retail, fitness studios, spas and personal care, professional services and more are welcome to join lovestc.ca.
- Recovery Activation Program (RAP)
The Recovery Activation Program (RAP) offers the support you need to evolve your business, digitally transform, and adapt to the new normal.
The Toronto Region Board of Trade and World Trade Centre Toronto is offering fully-funded immersive training, mentoring and support to assist with digital modernization – at no cost to you - through its Recovery Activation Program (RAP). This new, free initiative is designed to help businesses improve their digital capacity, and build their network through curated programs that will help them take the next step toward their digital restructuring.
Participants start this process by completing the Digital Needs Assessment, which will gauge their digital competencies and help them leverage technology to:
- Attract new customers
- Improve supply-chain efficiencies
- Manage your workforce virtually
- Streamline costs
- ShopHERE Powered by Google
St. Catharines small businesses: here's your chance to build an eCommerce site for free.
ShopHERE powered by Google Canada is providing independent small businesses and artists with a quick, easy and no-cost way to get selling online right away. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of having an online presence to sell goods and services. To address this need, Digital Main Street is collaborating with Google, Shopify, Mastercard and Microsoft to build and optimize online stores for small independent businesses and artists in just a matter of days.
For all the latest news and developments in St. Catharines, provide your email address and we'll keep you up to date.