Alternatives to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

Small Business owner with "open" sign

Many businesses are struggling in the wake of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, leading to the Canadian federal government extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) until December 2020. Unfortunately, the program’s strict eligibility criteria leaves many Canadian businesses ineligible to receive funding through this program and needing to look towards alternative funding options.

Fortunately, the Canadian federal and provincial governments have a plethora of wage subsidy, grant, and loan programs to help businesses during COVID-19.

Before we begin, it’s important to note that businesses currently receiving funding through the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) may still be eligible to receive additional funding through some of these programs. Be sure to review your eligibility to ensure your business is maximizing its funding potential.

CEWS-Alternative COVID-19 Funding Programs

Due to the overwhelming demand for government COVID-19 funding programs, they often operate on a first-come-first-served basis with a short window for applications. We strongly encourage you to visit our COVID-19 funding support page to hear about the latest grant and loan programs, or subscribe to our newsletter to be notified of new program launches.

Temporary Enhancements to the Work-Sharing (WS) Program

Effective until March 14, 2021 the temporary changes to the Work-Sharing (WS) program lets successful applicants have employees work an agreed-upon reduced number of hours to share the available workload while allowing them to continue to collect employment insurance (EI).

Employers must have employees sign off to an agreed-upon reduced number of hours, allowing employees to claim EI while working.

Learn more about the Work-Sharing (WS) program or apply for the program on

Mitacs COVID-19 Three-to-One Funding Ratio

Mitacs is a Canadian not-for-profit that is currently offering a three-to-one investment ratio for wages paid to businesses utilizing post-secondary research for COVID-19-related R&D projects. This program can stack with other COVID-19 funding programs including the ones mentioned on this list.

This funding program offers payments as a ratio, meaning if your business invests $1,000 in R&D wages paid to a post-secondary researcher towards an eligible project, they will match it with $3,000 for a project total of $4,000.

Learn more about Mitacs COVID-19 funding.

Regional Relief & Recovery Fund (RRRF)

Unlike other COVID-19 funding programs, the Regional Relief & Recovery Fund (RRRF) was made specifically for Ontario businesses that are ineligible for other forms of COVID-19 funding. If you have between 1 – 499 employees, have been rejected for other COVID-19 relief programs, and are currently facing financial pressures as a direct result of the novel coronavirus, you many be eligible for this program.

This program offers $60,000-$500,000 interest-free, repayable loans for those in Southern Ontario, or up to $250,000 interest-free loans for those in Northern Ontario.

Learn more about the Regional Relief & Recovery Fund (RRRF).

CanExport: COVID-19 Funding

This program has undergone temporary changes due to the pandemic, as travel-related costs are no longer eligible for funding. This program is actively funding many projects to help Canadian exporters find new ways to promote their products in foreign markets such as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), market research, interpretation services, and more.

Businesses across Canada may access funding covering up to 75% of the costs associated with export marketing projects, to a maximum $75,000 per application.

Learn more about CanExport funding during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

In order to help Canadian small businesses gain access to cashflow during the COVID-19 pandemic, the federal government is offering interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to help cover operating costs while revenues are temporarily depleted.

Applicants can receive no-interest loans of up to $40,000, with loan forgiveness of up to 25% if the balance has been repaid on or before December 31, 2022.

Learn more about the Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP).

Ontario Automotive Modernization Program (O-AMP)

The recently announced O-AMP program helps Ontario automotive manufacturers increase their competitiveness by adopting new technology by subsidizing half of the implementation and training costs.

Ontario automotive manufacturers can receive up to 50% of eligible costs to a maximum of $100,000 towards adopting new tech and training employees.

Learn more about the Ontario Automotive Modernization Program (O-AMP).

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

The Canadian federal government acknowledges that in order to prevent layoffs, large employers with more than 500 employees require some form of a funding program to help them through the coronavirus pandemic. This is what led to the creation of LEFFF.

Loans of up to $60,000,000 are being made available to large for-profit enterprises that have a significant workforce within Canada.

Learn more about the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF).

If You Can’t Bring Your Employees Back Yet, What About CERB Alternatives?

Update: the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) has been updated to $500 per week instead of the original $400 per week. Read more about all income support options after CERB.

If your employees are unable to come back to work and are worried about no longer receiving $2,000 a month through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) after the September 26 deadline, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has just announced they will launch the new Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) on September 27. The CRB provides non-EI claimants $1,600 per month, for up to 26 weeks, until your annual net income reaches $38,000, which equates to $3,166 a month. Once you cross this income bracket, your CRB payment will start phasing out at the rate of $0.5 for every dollar earned above $3,166.

Stay Up to Date with CEWS-Alternative Wage Subsidy Announcements

Wage subsidies, hiring grants, and training reimbursement programs are often announced with short deadlines to apply and frequently grant funding on a first-come-first-served basis. We strongly encourage you to review the full list of Canadian hiring and training programs to ensure you are researching open programs, or subscribe to our weekly newsletter to be notified of program launches.

Mentor Works is keeping a close eye on Canadian federal and provincial COVID-19 government funding programs as they release. We strongly encourage you to attend an upcoming pandemic business recovery funding webinar or visit our coronavirus business support page to learn about new updates.

No event found!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *