Government programs available to support Canadian entrepreneurs through the coronavirus pandemic

Last updated: September 14, 2021


Paid sick leave | Ontario COVID-19 Worker Income Protection Benefit

Paid infectious disease emergency leave

Note: This program has been extended to December 31, 2021.

In Ontario, employers are legally required to provide employees with up to three days of paid infectious disease emergency leave for reasons related to

  • Getting and awaiting results of a COVID-19 test
  • Being sick with COVID-19
  • Getting vaccinated and recovering from any side effects
  • Needing to self-isolate due to COVID-19

Learn more about this change to the Employment Standards Act (ESA) and what employers need to know.

Providing lines of credit and financial support to businesses

Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) Guarantee

Note: The HASCAP Guarantee has been extended until December 31, 2021.

Small- and medium-sized Canadian-based businesses hard hit by COVID-19 can access guaranteed, low-interest loans of $25,000 to $1 million.

  • You must have received payments either from the Canada Emergency Subsidy (CEWS) or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) by having shown at least a 50% revenue decline for at least three months (not necessarily consecutive) within the eight-month period prior to applying to HASCAP.
  • You have up to 10 years to repay the loan, including a possible twelve-month deferment on principal payments at the beginning.

Apply through your primary financial institution. See more program details here, including a downloadable one-page reference sheet to aid in the conversation with your financial institution.

Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

BCAP will provide more than $10 billion of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges. The funds will be distributed through programs by the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and by Export Development Canada (EDC).

How to access program: Businesses seeking support through BCAP should first contact their financial institutions for an assessment of their situation. Financial institutions will refer to EDC and BDC their existing clients whose needs extend beyond what is available through the private sector alone.

Working capital loans (offered through BDC)

  • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to six months for qualifying businesses 
  • Postponement of payments for up to six months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less
  • Reduced rates on new eligible loans

Co-lending program for SMEs (offered through BDC)

  • Up to $6.25 million for your operational cash flow requirements
  • Differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues
  • 80% of financed amount provided by BDC and the remaining 20% by your financial institution
  • Provides credit and cash flow term loans to small and medium-sized Canadian businesses in all sectors that were otherwise financially viable and revenue generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak
  • Financial institutions can issue operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to existing clients, with 80 per cent guaranteed by EDC
  • Please contact your financial institution for application details

Additional EDC Supports:

EDC also provides support through their insights, tools and advice offerings like Export Help Hub. Through a MyEDC account Canadian businesses can access free services and information. Standard EDC programs are also available to support Canadian companies with international trade.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

This program is winding down and stopped accepting new applications on June 30, 2021. See the CEBA website for deadlines for document and information submissions.

There is zero interest charged on a CEBA loan until December 31, 2022. By repaying 75% of your loan on or before December 31, 2022, you can keep the remaining 25% (up to $10,000). If the loan cannot be repaid by December 31, 2022, it can be converted into a three-year term loan with an interest rate of 5%. Contact your primary financial institution to apply.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

Note: This program runs until October 23, 2021.

  • Canadian businesses, non-profits or charities who lost revenue due to COVID-19 may qualify for a subsidy (up to 65%) to cover part of commercial rent or property expenses.
  • If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also qualify for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.
  • A CERS application must be filed no later than 180 days after the end of a claim period. See the CERS Technical Guidance page for support.

Support for Indigenous-owned Businesses

  • Loans of up to $50,000 will be available to small and medium-sized businesses that are either ineligible for, or unable to access, existing federal and provincial COVID-19 response initiatives for small businesses.
  • Loans will be available through Aboriginal Financial Institutions.
  • Up to 50% of each loan will be in the form of a non-repayable grant, with no interest due on the loan portion until December 31, 2022.

Programs to help companies make payroll

Work-Sharing 

Note: This program has been extended to September 24, 2022. You may be eligible to apply for a subsequent new 26-week agreement.

This program helps employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer. 

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

Note: This program runs until October 23, 2021.

As a Canadian employer, if you have seen a drop in revenue as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your employee wages. Read more about recent changes to program details.

Direct wage support for employees 

Transition from CERB to EI

The CERB program has closed, but you may be eligible for benefits through temporary changes to the Employment Insurance program that are retroactive to September 27, 2020 and run for one year.

Additional recovery benefit programs are also in place that are retroactive to September 27, 2020 and run until September 25, 2021. These include:

Boost to Canada Child Benefit payments

In 2021, families eligible to receive this benefit (i.e., they have a net income of $120,000 or less) will receive $300 per payment for each child under the age of six. The first payments were issued on May 28, 2021. The final two payments will be paid on July 30 and October 29, 2021. More details here.

GST/HST Credit 

This is a tax-free quarterly payment that helps individuals and families with low and modest incomes offset all or part of the GST or HST that they pay. It may also include payments from provincial and territorial programs.

Support in assessing and navigating funding options  

Business Resilience Service

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce provides resources such as a guide to financial benefits, webinars, toolkits, and COVID-19 data and research to help businesses manage operations throughout the pandemic and plan their recovery.

Regional Development Agencies: Support for business during COVID-19

Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) can assist small- or medium-sized businesses that need assistance. They provide:

  • Support in accessing federal funding programs
  • Advice and pathfinding services to other federal programs and services

If you are already receiving RDA funding, you may be eligible to receive additional funding and/or flexible arrangements. 

Directory of Canada’s Regional Development Agencies:

Active funders in Canada

Hockeystick has compiled a list of active funders that is broken down by type of funding: equity, lenders, government and programs.