UPDATE: The Ontario provincial government has allocated additional funding and expanded the eligibility criteria
As the Ontario government continues to prioritize its support for small businesses, some may wonder what qualifies as a small business, and what about the teeniest of small businesses? According to the Canada Revenue Agency, a small business is defined as having fewer than 100 paid staff on payroll, regardless of part-time or full-time status. Any business above 100 employees and below 500 is classified as a medium-sized business, and a large business has 500 or more paid staff.
Eligible main street small businesses in retail, food and accommodations, and other service sectors can receive a one-time grant of up to $1,000 to help offset the unexpected costs of personal protective equipment (PPE) amidst the ongoing pandemic.
A small business in Ontario with 95 employees is vastly different in operations and costs from a business with 9 or less employees; and this is exactly the demographic that Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan has chosen to focus on – smaller-than-most businesses with only two to nine employees on payroll. Since small businesses make up nearly 98% of Canada’s business types, it’s important that provinces maintain strong recovery plans, especially for the smallest businesses that need extra support, as the country continues to change during uncertain times.
What is the Ontario Main Street Recovery Plan?
In part with $60 million in government grants announced towards PPE and COVID-19 recovery, Ontario also seeks to introduce a new legislation called the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020 that will help tackle issues that small businesses across the province are facing. If passed, the act would support small businesses financially and legally in overcoming obstacles by allowing them to safely continue their business operations while maintaining the best health practices to ensure the public’s safety.
“Through more than 100 virtual roundtables and discussions with small business owners, their employees, local leaders and economists from all over Ontario, I’ve heard directly about the extraordinary sacrifices small businesses have made to keep their employees safe, their customers confident, and their communities strong.”
– Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business
For financial support, Ontario’s Main Street Recovery Plan will include:
- A government grant of up to $1,000 for eligible main street small businesses to offset the unpredicted costs of personal protective equipment (PPE);
- Access to tailored advice and information for country-wide programming and funding through Ontario’s Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network, built up of 47 Small Business Enterprise Centres across the province.
- Online digital education and support for small businesses through Digital Main Street Squads;
- Support for mental health initatives;
- Building and maintaining Ontario’s Small Business Recovery Webpage in order to provide direct small business support.
The plan’s legislative changes, if passed, will:
- Dedicate time to exploring options for permanently allowing licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol as part of their delivery and takeout menu options;
- Work to allow 24/7 deliveries to companies that include retail stores, restaurants, and distribution facilities;
- Support the delivery of local food and food products by expanding the range of products sold at the Ontario Food Terminal;
- Facilitate Community Net Metering demonstration projects to help support local communities to develop innovative community projects like net-zero or community micro-grids;
- Develop the Assistive Devices Program;
- Support Ontario’s Taxi and Limousine Industry by increasing fines for illegal ride-share operators.
Government Funding Support for Small Businesses
In the wise words of Barack Obama, “don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it.”
“The resiliency of Canadian business owners throughout the pandemic has been commendable. While we cannot predict how the next six months will unfold, now is the time to start focusing on the future, with cautious optimism. Charting a new path forward has to start with a plan, so seek advice early, use the resources available, and be ready to pivot – it’s the greatest chance of survival in a post-pandemic world.”
– Jason Charlebois, Senior Vice President of Small Business, Scotiabank.
If you are interested in other government funding programs to support your business in recovery, innovation, or economic growth, please contact a member of the Mentor Works team, sign up for our Weekly Funding Newsletter, or visit our COVID19 Support Page.