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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

  • Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant

    The Ontario Small Business Relief Grant provides a one-time payment of $10,000 to eligible small businesses that have been required to close indoor operations as a result of the province’s modified Step 2 restrictions that came into effect on January 5, 2022.

    The Ontario Small Business Relief Grant application portal is open until March 11, 2022 for eligible applications from: 

    • Newly established businesses
    • Businesses that may not have previously applied to the Ontario Small Business Support Grant in 2021
    • Businesses that were previously deemed ineligible but are now eligible.
    In the spirit of efficiency, the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade emailed eligible businesses that received previous grants in 2021 to pre-screen their eligibility for this new funding stream. Your business does not need to re-apply if you've completed the pre-screen and were verified to receive this grant.


    To receive the grant, a eligible small business must:

    • have been required to close due to public health orders that took effect 12:01 a.m. on January 5, 2022
    • have 99 or fewer employees as of December 31, 2021
    • be an active business as of January 14, 2022
    Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply through the application portal.

    Eligible small businesses include:

    • restaurants and bars
    • facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms)
    • racing venues, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
    • museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
    • performing arts venues and cinemas, museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
    • meeting or event spaces
    • tour and guide services
    • conference centres and convention centres
    • driving instruction for individuals
    • before- and after- school programs

    The Ontario Small Business Relief Grant Application Guide provides additional information about applying for the grant.

    Learn More

    Apply Now

    If you need help, call centres are open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., excluding government and statutory holidays.

    • Toll-free: 1.855.216.3090
    • TTY: 416.325.3408
    • Toll-free TTY: 1.800.268.7095
  • Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program

    The Ontario Government is introducing the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program to support businesses most impacted by public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

    Eligible businesses required to close or reduce capacity will receive rebate payments for a portion of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to these measures. Eligible businesses required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs, while businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs.

    A full list of eligible business types will be available through a program guide in mid-January 2022.

    Online applications for this program will open January 18, 2022. Payments to eligible businesses will be retroactive to December 19, 2021.

    Businesses will be required to submit property tax and energy bills as part of the application process.

    If you have questions about the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program, call 1-866-668-8297 (1-866-ONT-TAXS).

    Learn More

  • Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit

    The Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit (CWLB) gives temporary income support to employed and self-employed people who cannot work due to a COVID-19 lockdown.

    The CWLB is only available when a COVID-19 lockdown order is designated for your region.

    If you are eligible for the CWLB, you can receive $300 ($270 after taxes withheld) for each 1-week period. You may apply for any weeks your region is eligible between October 24, 2021 and May 7, 2022.

    The CWLB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

    Learn more

  • Local Lockdown Progam

    The Local Lockdown Program is a way businesses, charities, and non-profits affected by a qualifying public health restriction can be eligible for wage and rent support through the Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program (THRP).

    You do not have to be in the tourism, hospitality, arts, entertainment, or recreation sectors to be eligible for this support.

    Learn More

  • COVID-19 wage and hiring support for businesses

    As an employer in Canada who has seen a drop in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of the wages you pay employees. This subsidy will enable you to re-hire workers, help prevent further job losses, and ease your business back into normal operations.

    For each applicable claim period, eligible employers can claim one of the following, whichever gives the highest amount:

    Many of the eligibility and calculation rules for the wage subsidy under the THRP and the HHBRP are the same as they were for the CEWS.

    Read More

  • COVID-19 rent and property expense support for businesses

    As a business, non-profit organization, or charity in Canada who has seen a drop in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your commercial rent or property expenses.

    Depending on the period you are applying for, you may be eligible to claim your commercial rent or property expenses through one of the following:

    Many of the eligibility and calculation rules for the rent subsidy under the THRP and the HHBRP are the same as they were for the CERS.

    If you are eligible for a base rent subsidy, you may also be eligible for a top-up if your business location is significantly affected by a public health restriction for a week or more.

    Learn More

  • Canada Community Revitalization Fund

    The Canada Community Revitalization Fund (CCRF) aims to help communities across Canada build and improve community infrastructure projects so they can rebound from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    With a national investment of $500 million over 2 years, the fund will support not-for-profit organizations, municipalities and other community groups, as well as Indigenous communities to:

    • build new community infrastructure and revitalize existing assets
    • bring people back to public spaces safely as health measures ease
    • create jobs and stimulate local economies

    The fund is being delivered by Canada's regional development agencies (RDAs). Eligible applicants can submit an application as of June 23, 2021.

    Learn More and Apply

  • Jobs and Growth Fund

    The Jobs and Growth Fund provides funding to businesses and organizations to help create jobs and position local economies for long-term growth. The fund, delivered by Canada's regional development agencies (RDAs), provides $700 million nationally over three years, which includes up to $70 million dedicated to businesses created after January 2020 that meet eligibility criteria.

    Eligible applicants

    • Businesses, including co-operatives
    • Not-for-profit organizations and community economic development partners

    Indigenous applicants

    • Indigenous-led organizations and/or businesses are strongly encouraged to apply
    • Under the initiative, RDAs may contribute up to 100% of eligible project costs for projects with Indigenous clients

    Eligible activities

    Activities that support the transition to a green economy, including those that:

    • support the development and adoption of clean technology
    • help communities and businesses plan and drive clean, sustainable economic growth
    • partner with organizations to catalyze the development of green regional clusters
    • work with organizations supporting businesses to transition to a green economy

    Activities that foster an inclusive recovery, including those that:

    • support businesses owned or majority-led by underrepresented groups, such as Indigenous peoples, members of racialized communities, women, youth, LGBTQ2, persons with disabilities, newcomers to Canada, and members of official language minority communities
    • increase the participation of underrepresented groups in the economy by supporting not-for-profit organizations that provide funding, business services, training and access to resources to build a more inclusive and equitable workforce

    Activities that preserve Canada's competitiveness and future-proof SMEs through digital adoption, including those that:

    • support the development or adoption of digital and technological solutions (i.e., Industry 4.0 solutions) to increase and promote business productivity
    • invest in technologies that help scale businesses, enhance their capabilities and increase resilience

    Activities that strengthen capacity in sectors critical to Canada's recovery and growth, including those that:

    • support scale-up and market expansion activities that bolster traditional areas of strength
    • develop emerging areas of global competitive advantage
    • support supply chain adaptation and diversification opportunities to build Canadian capacity in critical sectors such as food production, medical supplies and biomanufacturing

    Assistance available

    • Eligible businesses could receive interest-free repayable contributions for up to 50% of eligible costs
    • Eligible not-for profit organizations could receive non-repayable contributions for up to 90% of eligible costs

    Applications will be accepted on a continuous intake basis until such time as the funding is fully allocated.

    Submitting an application

    Start the application process by using the Applicant checklist

    Learn More and Apply

  • Government of Canada’s Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility

    The Government of Canada’s Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility will provide emergency funding support for large Canadian enterprises facing financial challenges in light of the economic impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic

    LEEFF will be open to large Canadian employers who:

    • have a significant impact on Canada’s economy, as demonstrated by
      • having significant operations in Canada,
      • or  supporting a significant workforce in Canada;
    • can generally demonstrate approximately $300 million or more in annual revenues;

    require a minimum loan size of about $60 million.

    Fact Sheet

    Learn More and Apply

  • Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program

    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% or more as a result of COVID-19. The guarantee covers amounts ranging from $25,000 to $1 million to ensure a degree of continuity for your business through the pandemic. The Government of Canada has mandated BDC to provide a guarantee to your financial institution for 100% of the value of a new term loan, to increase your company’s ability to access new credit.

    Flexible and competitive terms

    • Benefit from a 4% interest rate 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

    The HASCAP Guarantee is available until March 31, 2022 (extended).

    Learn More

  • My Main Street

    FedDev Ontario is investing more than $23 million to support the recovery and revitalization of main streets across southern Ontario through the launch of the My Main Street initiative.

    Targeted non-repayable contributions and programs will be provided across southern Ontario starting in the Fall of 2021.

    My Main Street will support new and existing businesses through funding for main street ambassadors, direct business non-repayable contributions, market research and business support programs. The initiative will also support local community projects, including events, main street enhancements and activities designed to draw visitors and increase local vibrancy.

    Learn More

  • 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
    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

    Ineligible applicants
    Businesses that are in the following industries are normally not eligible under this initiative:
    - restaurants
    - retail sector
    - hotel chains

    Apply Now

Other Support Programs for Businesses

  • Canada Digital Adoption Program

    Canada Digital Adoption Program

    How Canadians do business has changed. To stay competitive and grow, small and medium-sized businesses need to adopt new digital tools.

    The new Canada Digital Adoption Program (CDAP), which will provide $4 billion over four years to support up to 160,000 small businesses and create good middle-class jobs across the country, including thousands of jobs for young Canadians.

    Under the CDAP, Canadian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be able to assess their digital readiness and apply for grants and loans online. This funding will help them: leverage e-commerce opportunities, upgrade or adopt digital technologies, and digitize their operations to stay competitive and meet their customers’ needs in the digital marketplace.

    Funding opportunities

    • Grow Your Business Online
      Apply for a micro-grant and access e-commerce advisors to help you go digital and take advantage of e-commerce opportunities.
    • Boost Your Business Technology
      Apply for a grant to help you develop a digital plan, and leverage funded work placements to help with your digital transformation.
    Learn More and Apply
  • Canada-Ontario Job Grant

    Canada-Ontario Job Grant (COJG) provides opportunities for employers, individually or in groups, to invest in their workforce, with help from the government.

    The Canada-Ontario Job Grant provides direct financial support to individual employers or employer consortia who wish to purchase training for their employees. It is available to small, medium and large businesses with a plan to deliver short-term training to existing and new employees. Important to know:
    - Employers can get up to $10,000 in government support per person for training costs.
    - The training has to be delivered by an eligible, third-party trainer.
    - Employers with 100 or more employees need to contribute 1/2 of the training costs. Small employers with less than 100 employees need to contribute 1/6 of training costs.
    - For employer groups who want to apply for training supports the government offers a COJG Consortium Stream. The Consortium Stream allows a group of employers (two or more employers) to pool their resources to support common training objectives and goals. To apply as a consortium, the intermediary organization needs to ensure all the participating employers and trainees meet COJG requirements, and are able to make their required contribution towards the training cost.
    - Most organizations acting as an intermediary are eligible for administrative funding equal to 15% of the government contribution.

    If you're an employer with a particular skills demand, the Canada-Ontario Job Grant might be right for you. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis.

    Learn More and Apply

  • Food and Beverage Ontario’s CareersNOW!

    CareersNOW! Employer is Food and Beverage Ontario’s workforce development program to support Ontario’s food and beverage processing employers. Applications are now open to jobseekers and employers and will run until March 31, 2022.

    CareersNOW! can help your business find qualified, trained employees. The program is equipping jobseekers with essential skills training, access to mentorships and connecting them to businesses like yours.

    Job postings in food processing, transportation and warehousing have nearly doubled over the past year and a fifth of the workforce is preparing to retire. The CareersNOW! program will help address this labour shortage by delivering:

    • Free online training and coaching on topics such as workplace safety, employee-employer relations, and safe food handling, to prepare people for jobs in food and beverage manufacturing.
    • A virtual career mentorship series delivered in partnership with Ontario colleges and universities that provides students with opportunities to connect with professionals in the industry and explore education and career pathways.
    • Online job fairs to connect jobseekers with open positions.

    Employers who wish to participate, by posting job openings, mentoring trainees, or participating in job fairs, can apply through CareersNOW! Employer portal.

    Learn More

    Participate as a CareersNOW! Employer

  • Youth Break Barriers to Employment

    Youth Break Barriers to Employment (YBBE)  is an innovative youth employment program aiming to stimulate the Ontario economy by training youth aged 15-30 (inclusive) and matching them with a quality employment placement. YBBE offers up to 80% wage subsidy to employers related to one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals for up to $15,000 per intern. Additional training opportunities for interns available!

    The YBBE program is an United Nations Association in Canada initiative to tackle youth un-and underemployment in positions relating to the UN's Sustainable Development Goals and is support through funding from the Government of Canada.

    If you are an organization from St. Catharines and are interested in receiving wage subsidies and training for new hires, apply today!

    Please note that United Nations Association in Canada (UNA-Canada) is an equal opportunity employer and encourage organizations interested in hiring differently-abled, rural/remote and/or indigenous youth to apply to funding.

    Learn More

  • Trade Accelerator Program (TAP)

    Are you a St. Catharines food and beverage business looking at exploring new markets, grow revenue and be better prepared to do business internationally?

    The World Trade Centre Toronto, in partnership with the World Trade Center Buffalo Niagara, is pleased to host a Trade Accelerator Program (TAP) for Niagara companies beginning on February 2, 2022.

    This innovative and award-winning program is specifically designed to help small- to medium-sized enterprises leverage sales into international markets by creating a strategic growth plan. 

    Learn More

  • Free Business Listing on

    Shop Local with

    Join our campaign encouraging St. Catharines to shop local and help customers find you with a FREE business listing on

    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

    Submit Your Business Listing

  • 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

  • Canada Summer Jobs

    The call for applications is now closed. Service Canada will inform you of the status of your application starting in April 2022.

    Canada Summer Jobs is a long-standing Government of Canada program that strives to help youth (15–30 years of age) obtain their first summer work experience. The program provides opportunities for youth to develop and improve their skills within the not-for-profit, small business and public sectors, and supports the delivery of key community services. 

    The program provides wage subsidies to employers from not-for-profit organizations, the public sector, and private sector organizations with 50 or fewer full-time employees, to create quality summer work experiences for young people aged 15 to 30 years.

    Learn More

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