As of January 13, 2021, there have been 224,984 confirmed cases and 5,127 deaths related to COVID-19 in Ontario. Troubled by the growing numbers, which are substantially higher than the first wave of COVID-19, the Ontario government announced earlier this week that the province is now entering its second state of emergency lockdown and has issued mandatory orders for all Ontario residents to strictly stay-at-home. The only exception, as with the first emergency lockdown back in March, is to leave one’s household for essential purposes such as grocery shopping or medical appointments. As announced by Ontario’s Premier Doug Ford, the emergency lockdown’s legal parameters and guidelines will stay in place for at least 28 days until February 10, 2021.
“Despite our best efforts, COVID-19 is continuing to spread in our communities, our hospitals, our long-term care homes, and our workplaces. We have made great strides in vaccinating tens of thousands of Ontarians, and we can’t let these efforts go to waste. Urgent action is required to break this deadly trend of transmission, ensure people stay home, and save lives.”
– Christine Elliott, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
While it’s evident to most that the Ontario government is putting strong measures in place to prevent further spread and protect the health and safety of all Canadians, many business owners and residents alike have begun voicing pleading concerns over guidelines such as violation tickets and limited operating hours that are inevitably impeding on Ontario’s economic wellbeing. Business organizations are especially troubled that the second lockdown will cause inescapable impacts and create further barriers towards recovery.
Browse through this blog to learn about the new guidelines in effect until at least February 10, and the government funding support options available to help Ontario businesses during the second state of emergency lockdown.
Ontario’s Second State of Emergency Lockdown Changes
If you’re looking for a breakdown of the new Ontario-wide state of emergency lockdown restrictions coming into effect this week, here are the main changes since December 26:
- Extended stay-at-home order for at least 28 days; Ontario residents are required to remain at home with exceptions for essential shopping, health-care services, exercising, or attending essential work duties.
- All businesses must allow any employee who can work from home to do so.
- All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, will be forced to close by 8 p.m. ET and open no earlier than 7 a.m.
- Outdoor gatherings are now officially limited to a maximum of five people, consistent with the first-wave lockdown rules.
- There will be no in-class schooling until Feb. 10 at the earliest within the following public health units: Toronto, York Region, Peel Region, Hamilton, and Windsor-Essex.
- Masks remain mandatory indoors at any public business, organization, or gathering place. Masks are also now being recommended outdoors where proper social distancing is not possible.
- Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.
For a full, comprehensive list of changes, restrictions, and bylaw penalties during Ontario’s second state of emergency lockdown, here is Ontario’s Enhancing Public Health and Workplace Safety Measures in the Provincewide Shutdown Report.
Government Funding to Help Ontario Businesses Through COVID-19 Lockdown Impacts
To support you and your business during Ontario’s second state of emergency lockdown, here are four government funding programs currently available that are helping businesses through the global COVID-19 pandemic:
The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is a federal interest-free loan program offered directly as a response to the global pandemic. The CEBA program has provided over 800,000 Canadian businesses with funding support, resulting in a total of $31 billion in government loans through this program since last year.
Amount: Canadian businesses including not-for-profits can receive interest-free loans of up to $60,000 with up to 33% turned into grants (maximum of $20,000 in total) if repaid on or before December 31, 2022.
Eligibility: Canadian businesses that are facing financial hardship as a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic (drop in revenue, increase in expenses, etc.), have an active CRA Business Number (BN) on or prior to March 1, 2020, have an active business chequing/operating account with their CEBA lender at the time of application, have not previously used funding through CEBA and will not apply for CEBA through a separate financial institution; and intend to continue or resume business operations.
Timeline: Businesses can apply until June 30, 2021. For businesses that have not yet applied for a CEBA loan, you can start your application online with the Canada.ca pre-screening tool.
Eligible Expenses: Non-deferrable expenses such as employee wages, rent/lease payments, utility payments, or etc., that were not incurred or agreed upon before March 2020.
Through the 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 rent subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021.
Amount: Eligible businesses can receive up to $75,000 in subsidies per location with a maximum of $300,000 in total for all locations, for each CERS payment period.
Eligibility: Businesses, non-profit organizations, and charities located in Canada who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible to apply for this program.
Timeline: Ongoing intake until June 2021.
Eligible Expenses: The CERS will fund any property in Canada that the federal government describes as “real or immovable property” (buildings or land) that your business/organization owns or rents and uses during your ordinary business activities.
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) program helps employers cover employee wages by up to 75% to prevent layoffs and keep their business afloat. CEWS has approved over 1,300,000 applicants and paid over $43 billion in wage subsidies since it began in March 2020.
Amount: CEWS covers 75% of an employee’s first $58,700 earned, which equates to a subsidy of up to $847/week per employee.
Eligibility: Individuals and most types of Canadian businesses and organizations including not-for-profits, private schools or colleges, and registered charities. Click here for the full list.
Timeline: Ongoing intake until at least June 2021.
Eligible Expenses: Retroactive funding for employee wages earned from March 15, 2020 onwards.
Ontario’s Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is offered via FedDev Ontario and CanNor. FedDev is administering two funding options to businesses located in southern Ontario, with CanNor administering one funding option to businesses located in northern Ontario. The breakdown for Ontario RRRF funding is as follows:
FedDev Ontario – RRRF for Southern Ontario
Funding Option 1: Up to $60,000 in conditionally repayable interest-free loans, of which up to 25% (to a maximum of $10,000) will be converted to a grant if 75% of the loan is repaid by March 31, 2023.
Funding Option 2: Up to $1,000,000 in unconditionally repayable interest-free loans with a two-year grace period where no scheduled monthly repayments are required until April 1, 2023.
FedNor – RRRF for Northern Ontario
Funding Option: Up to 100% of eligible costs to a maximum $250,000 repayable interest-free loan:
- For recipients of up to $60,000 in conditionally repayable interest-free loans, up to 25% (to a maximum of $10,000) will be converted to a grant if 75% of the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022.
- For northern Ontario Not-for-Profits, up to 100% to a maximum $250,000 in non-repayable funding.
Eligible Expenses for All Ontario Funding Options Include:
- Salaries and Benefits (only costs not covered by CEWS or NRC-IRAP Innovation Assistance Program)
- Capital Lease on Existing Equipment & Machinery
- Property Taxes & Utilities
- Bank Charges & Interest Expenses
- Professional Fees & Monthly Insurance
- Vehicle or Fleet Operating Expenses
- Commercial Mortgage Payments (Northern Ontario Only) / Rent (must apply to the Canadian Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program first)
- Expenditures by not-for-profit organizations that provide support services to businesses to mitigate COVID-19 impacts
- Other applicable fixed operating costs
- Cleaning supplies and other additional health and safety measures
- One-time stabilization expenditures
Those are four government funding programs that are currently available for Ontario businesses to take advantage of for financial support during the second state of emergency lockdown and beyond. Other programs such as the Ontario Small Business Support Grant offer eligible small businesses up to $20,000 in grants. Learn how to apply here and sign up for our Weekly Funding Newsletter to stay updated to government funding programs that support businesses during COVID-19.
Please contact the Mentor Works team to discover how your business can access these COVID-19 government funding programs or explore additional coronavirus-related government support options by visiting our COVID-19 Support Page.