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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

  • COVID-19 Resources

    Businesses can access free training and assistance, including:

    Assistance and support for small businesses is available from:

    Workplace COVID-19 safety fact sheets, guides and posters are available at Ontario.ca/covidsafety. These include multilingual tip sheets for employers.
  • 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.

    Program dates
    This HASCAP Guarantee is available until June 30, 2021.

    Guaranteed loans
    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.

    Eligibility requirements 
    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.

    Learn More

  • Ontario Main Street Relief Grant

    Ontario is helping small businesses with the unexpected costs for personal protective equipment. Applications are now open.

    UPDATE
    Ontario has expanded eligibility for main street relief grant. Small businesses with 2 to 19 employees in all eligible sectors, including those in the arts, entertainment, and recreation sector, can now apply for the Main Street Relief Grant to help offset the costs of purchasing PPE.

    Apply Now

    Eligibility
    To be eligible, your business must have two to nine employees and be in one of the following sectors:
    - retail
    - accommodation and food services
    - repair and maintenance
    - personal and laundry services
    - arts
    - entertainment
    - recreation

    What you’ll get

    Eligible small businesses will get one-time grants of up to $1,000.

    What you’ll need to apply
    You will need to submit receipts or proof of costs for PPE purchased since March 17, 2020. This includes:

    - gloves, gowns, face shields, eye protection, masks, sanitizer, sanitizing wipes
    - thermometers, temperature monitors or cameras
    - physical changes, including the installation of hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass dividers
    - signs to guide or inform customers and employees

    Learn More

  • 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.

    Eligibility

    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
    What you’ll get
    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)
    Funding will cover the entire length of time that regionally targeted public health restrictions are in place.

    Most businesses can expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of submitting a complete application.
    Learn More and Apply
  • Regional Relief and Recovery Funding (RRRF)

    Applications are open for additional Regional Relief and Recovery Funding through Venture Niagara. Funding is limited.

    Businesses in the Niagara Region, including St. Catharines, may be eligible to benefit from additional relief funding through Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) thanks to an investment by the Government of Canada. Small and Medium sized Enterprises, Not-For Profit organizations including Social Enterprises that provide support services to SMEs (such as business or sector-based organizations) as well as those engaging in commercial activities in Venture Niagara Community Futures Development Corporation’s service area.

    Priority will be given to sole proprietors, tourism businesses and “main street” businesses, such as retail shops, restaurants, corner stores etc. and businesses of strategic importance to the community.

    Eligible applicants must also meet the following criteria which will be captured in an attestation form:

    • Established prior to March 1, 2020
    • Impacted adversely due to the COVID-19 pandemic
    • Viable and not experiencing financial pressures or other financial difficulties prior to March 1, 2020
    • Have attempted to access other federal supports and were ineligible, rejected, or require funding for expenses in excess of support already received with priority given to applicants who were ineligible or rejected from other federal supports
    • Have not or will not apply or accept other Government of Canada equivalent support
      • * Note that businesses may also be eligible to receive RRRF funds from FedDev Ontario but will not receive RRRF assistance from both Venture Niagara and FedDev Ontario.
    The REGIONAL RELIEF & RECOVERY FUND is intended for those businesses that have not been able to receive any other Government of Canada COVID-19 related funding.

    Learn More

  • Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

    Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021.

    This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.

    If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also be eligible for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.

    Learn More and Apply

  • 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.

    Learn More and Apply

  • 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.

    Find Out if You Are Eligible

    Learn More and Apply

  • 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.

    Learn More

  • 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.

    Learn More

  • 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.

    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.

    Learn More

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.

    Learn more and apply

Other Support Programs for Businesses

  • Canada United Small Business Relief Fund

    The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund has reopened with small business relief grants up to $5,000 available for small businesses.

    The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund (CUSBRF) was established to help small businesses offset the cost of expenses to open safely or adopt digital technologies to move more of their business online.

    Over $14 Million has been contributed by the Federal Government, RBC, and Canada United partners to support recovery efforts due to COVID-19.  The CUSBRF has already provided relief to over 2,000 small businesses across the country. The CUSBRF is now able to extend relief grants to more small businesses and restart accepting grant applications from small businesses for expenses incurred no earlier than March 15, 2020.

    The CUSBRF will be managed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the national chamber network in support of other chambers and partners to help small Canadian businesses with their recovery efforts as a result of COVID-19.

    Successful applicants will receive a relief grant of up to $5,000. The CUSBRF is intended to support local businesses of all kinds from across the country (from retailers to barbershops to farmers).

    Apply Now

  • 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

    Watch the Demo

    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.

    Redeem Special Offer

  • 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.

    Apply for a Digital Transformation Grant

    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.

    Claim Your Coupon

  • Free Business Listing on loveSTC.ca

    Shop Local with 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.

    Submit Your Business Listing

  • Recovery Activation Program (RAP)

    Recovery Activation Program

    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

    Learn More

  • 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.

    Sign up for a FREE online store

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