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 Small Business Support Grant Portal Now Open
Ontario's Small Business Grants portal is now OPEN!
Ontario is helping businesses recover costs for PPE and providing extra support for businesses required to close or significantly restrict services as a result of provincial public health measures.
The Ontario Small Business Support Grant is intended to help small businesses (including sole proprietorships) in Ontario that are required to close or significantly restrict services under Ontario’s provincewide shutdown effective December 26, 2020.
Eligible businesses can receive between $10,000 and $20,000. Starting at $10,000 for all eligible businesses, the grant will provide businesses with dollar for dollar funding up to a maximum of $20,000 to help with revenue losses resulting from government mandated lockdowns.
Businesses will be able to use the support however they see fit. For example, some businesses will use the support to pay employee wages, while others will need support maintaining their inventory.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
- Were required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26
- Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level
- Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019
- Note: the application portal will provide alternative revenue decline comparator months for small businesses not in operation in April 2019 or April 2020.
- Ontario Main Street Relief Grant
Ontario is helping small businesses with the unexpected costs for personal protective equipment. Applications are now open.
To be eligible, your business must have two to nine employees and be in one of the following sectors:
- accommodation and food services
- repair and maintenance
- personal and laundry services
- 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
- 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
- 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.
- 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.
- 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 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
- 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
- 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.
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