Skip to content

Government programs available to support Canadian entrepreneurs through the coronavirus pandemic

Last updated: March 30, 2020

This page will be updated as new details on governmental supports for Canadian businesses impacted by COVID-19 become available. 

Providing lines of credit to businesses

The Business Credit Availability Program (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 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.

BDC Programs

Current details from BDC on new relief measures include:

  • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 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

EDC Programs

EDC Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Guarantee

  • Access the financing you need, by providing a guarantee to your financial institution on your operating line of credit or term loan, up to $5M.
  • See list of the 38 financial institutions offering the BCAP Guarantee here
  • Information required for initial application: company owners, company financial information, and a CRA business number
  • Please contact your financial institution for application details

For further details, please visit EDC’s website.

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 available to support Canadian companies with international trade:

  • Risk management solutions, including credit insurance and performance security insurance);
  • Financing solutions, including buyer financing, structured and project finance and direct lending;
  • Working capital solutions, including export guarantee program, account performance security guarantee, foreign exchange facility guarantee and surety bonds.

Canada Emergency Business Account

  • will allow banks to give up to $40,000 in government-backed loans to businesses, with no interest for a year and the chance that $10,000 will be forgiven

Announcement made on March 27, 2020. Further details will be provided once they are available on the government of Canada website.

Programs to help companies make payroll


  • This adjustment program is designed to help 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. 
  • What’s new: The Government of Canada will enhance this program at an estimated cost of $12 million to help employers who are experiencing a downturn in business due to COVID-19, and their workers.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy 

Note: The following information was gathered from a news article summarizing Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s announcement on March 30, 2020. At time of publishing, updates to the program were not yet reflected on official government websites.

Overview of Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy:

  • Previously known as the Temporary Wage Subsidy
  • Provides eligible businesses a 75% subsidy on the first $58,700 that an employee earns, up to $847 per week
  • Subsidies will be backdated to March 15, 2020 
  • You are an eligible employer if you have seen revenues decrease by 30% or more due to COVID-19
    Note: The number of employees you have does not determine eligibility.

Additional information is expected on March 31, 2020, and will be updated here when made available.

Added flexibility for corporate taxes

  • Tax payment deferral until September for individual and corporate taxpayers, with no interest or penalties accumulating on those amounts during this period.
  • The Liaison Officer service is now available over the phone to help owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. 
  • The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks.

Lower interest rates 

  • The Bank of Canada has slashed interest rates and unveiled tools to support the financial system, Canada’s banking regulator has eased the industry’s “stability buffer” to boost lending capacity, and $10-billion in credit was set aside for small and medium-sized businesses facing a cash crunch.

Direct wage support for employees 

Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) 

  • Taxable benefit would provide $2,000 a month for up to four months for workers who lose their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • Canadians would begin to receive their CERB payments within 10 days of application
  • The CERB would be paid every four weeks and be available from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020

Note: The CERB was announced on March 25,200 as a more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

Who qualifies

  • Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.
  • Workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, would also qualify for the CERB.
  • Individuals do not need to qualify for EI to receive this benefit. 
  • Individuals who are already receiving EI regular or sickness benefits as of today would continue to receive their benefits and should not apply to the CERB.

The portal to access CERB will be available in early April.

EI eligible Canadians who have lost their job can continue to apply for EI here, as can Canadians applying for other EI benefits.

Boost to Child Benefit payments

  • Increase to the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) for the 2019-20 benefit year, $300 per child

Support in assessing and navigating funding options  

Regional Development Agencies

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

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

If you are already receiving RDA funding:

  • You may be eligible to receive additional funding and/or flexible arrangements.
  • Further support will be determined on a case-by-case basis as the situation evolves.

Directory of Canada’s Regional Development Agencies:

  • Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency: 1-800-561-7862
  • Western Economic Diversification Canada: 1-888-338-9378
  • FedNor: 1-877-333-6673
  • Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency: 1-855-897-2667
  • FedDevOntario: 1-866-593-5505
  • Canadian Economic Development for Quebec Regions: 1-866-385-6412

Active Funders in Canada List

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


Further Resources: