Support for Businesses
As businesses face unprecedented challenges from COVID 19, there are a number of actions the City, Region, Provincial and Federal Governments have taken to help ease the strain on businesses.
City Tax Grace Period - the City Of St. Catharines has introduced a payment grace period to support residents and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grace period for payment – which runs until June 30 – means late fees and interest penalties will not be applied to water and tax payments, as well as accounts receivables. Water bills continue to be issued across the City as scheduled.
City Grace Period for Business Licence Payments - a temporary grace period, until further notice: no late fees will be charged for business licences. Also, no late fees for those renewing dog licences.
City Parking - Payment is not required, on a temporary basis, for on-street parking or parking in municipal lots. This is to take away numerous people touching the same parking machines throughout the day. Parking enforcement for lack of payment will also be suspended until further notice.
City Building Inspections - The City of St. Catharines is still processing and reviewing building applications and permits. New permit applications are being accepted via mail/courier. Inspection of occupied dwellings, including building permit, building complaint, property standards and other by-law inspections are suspended until April 6, pending further review.
Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 - The government's action plan is a first step in its response to COVID-19 and includes $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and direct support for people and jobs.
Ontario Together - The Ontario Government launched Ontario Together, a new website that will help businesses and their employees work together with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. This initiative will remove barriers allowing Ontario's manufacturing sector to redeploy capacity towards the production of essential equipment like ventilators, masks and swabs.
Regional Relief & Recovery Fund
Delivered by Venture Niagara
Businesses in Niagara unable to access existing federal relief measures can now apply for the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund. In order to provide targeted assistance to the small towns and communities we serve, Venture Niagara will focus on assisting “main street” businesses, such as retail shops, restaurants, corner stores, and businesses of strategic importance to our communities, with loans up to $40,000.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and Social Enterprises in Venture Niagara Community Futures Development Corporation’s service area. This area includes the municipalities of Fort Erie, Grimsby, Lincoln, Niagara Falls, Niagara-on-the-Lake, Pelham, Port Colborne, St.Catharines, Thorold, Wainfleet and Welland. Priority will be given to sole proprietors (not eligible under FedDev Ontario’s RRRF) 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.
Note: If you receive assistance in the future under the CEBA (or any other Government of Canada program) you must notify Venture Niagara immediately at which time the loan from Venture Niagara will become unconditionally repayable with no forgivable portion.
About the Loan
Maximum assistance will be $40,000
0% interest and no principal payments until December 31, 2022
Principal repayments can be voluntarily made at any time
If the recipient is unable to repay the loan by December 31, 2022, the loan will be converted to a three-year term loan with an interest rate of 5%, effective January 1, 2023. The full balance must be repaid no later than December 31, 2025.
If You Are Eligible You Can Start the Application ProcessIf you have not received any of the above noted programs and you are in Venture Niagara’s service area, register for a REGIONAL RELIEF & RECOVERY FUND application by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your Name, Business Name and Phone Number. You will then receive the application package.Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy offers help prevent further job losses, encourage employers to re-hire workers laid off due to COVID-19, help better position businesses and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis.
Eligible employers include individuals, taxable corporations, and partnerships consisting of eligible employers as well as non‑profit organizations and registered charities.
Available to eligible employers that see a drop of at least 30 per cent of their revenue.
Provides a 75 per cent wage subsidy to eligible employers up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week per employee for up to 12 weeks, retroactive to March 15, 2020.
Eligible employers would be able to apply for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through the Canada Revenue Agency’s My Business Account portal as well as a web-based application. More details about the application process will be made available shortly.
Employers are expected to make their best effort to top-up employees' salaries to bring them to pre-crisis levels.
Canada Emergency Response Benefit
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) offers temporary income support to those who have stopped working because of COVID-19. The CERB provides $500 a week for up to 16 weeks. The benefit will be available to workers:
Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old.
Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits.
Who had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.
Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 consecutive days in the initial four-week period. For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income.
The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is jointly delivered by Service Canada and the Canada Revenue Agency. Applications are open. In order to reduce the strain on the online portal Canadians are asked to apply on specific days of the week depending on their birth month. Use the chart below as a guide.
Day of week
January, February, March
April, May, June
July, August, September
October, November, December
Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays
Everyone can apply
Click here to learn more and apply.
Business Credit Availability Program
The Government of Canada outlined a coordinated package of measures being taken by financial sector partners to support the functioning of markets and continued access to financing for Canadian businesses. The government established the Business Credit Availability Program which will further support financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC), providing more than $10 billion of additional support to businesses.
Canada Emergency Business AccountFor small businesses and not-for profits with a 2019 payroll between $50,000 and $1 million.
Up to $40,000.
0 per cent interest until December 31, 2022.
If the loan is paid off by December 31, 2022, a quarter of the loan will be forgiven.
More details available here.
Contact your primary financial institution to apply.
Small and Medium Enterprise Loan and Guarantee programFor small and medium-sized businessesEDC will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans that financial institutions extend to SMEs
BDC will co-lend to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements with financial institutions.
Up to $6.25 million
More details available here.
Contact your primary financial institution to apply.
Work Sharing Program
Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, and not limited to one specific sector or industry, the Government of Canada introduced temporary special measures to its Work Sharing Program, including:
Extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.
Mandatory cooling off period has been waived for employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program so that eligible employers may immediately enter into a new agreement.
More details available here.
Changes to Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits - Employment Insurance sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and are available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Toll free line available: 1.833.381.2725
Temporary Business Wage Subsidy - Effective immediately, eligible employers (non-profit organizations, charities, and certain Canadian Controlled Private Corporations) that pay remuneration to an employee, such as salary, wages, or taxable benefits, on or after March 18th and before June 20th, are permitted to reduce remittances of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax by the amount of the subsidy. Learn more here.
Registered Retirement Income Funds Minimum Withdrawal Amounts - targeted help by reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds by 25 per cent for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions.
Farm Credit Canada - Farm Credit Canada has received an enhancement to its capital base that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity.
Buyandsell.gc.ca - Businesses that can supply products and services to support Canada’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are urged to visit buyandsell.gc.ca.
GST Credit - The Government of Canada is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax Credit. This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year.
Canada Child Benefit - Provides additional assistance to families with children by temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments. This measure would deliver almost $2 billion in extra support.
Canada Student Loan Payments - To support student and apprentice loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has announced its plan to pause the repayment of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until September 30, 2020.
Facebook Small Business Grants Program - Facebook is offering $100 million in cash grants for small businesses affected by COVID-19.
BarterPay - BarterPay is offering small businesses solutions to their issues with cashflow through their online trading platform.
Google - Google committed $800+ million to support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organizations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic.