Navigating COVID-19: Resources for Small Business Owners and Entrepreneurs

Toronto Rent Bank

Eligible households facing eviction may access one-time interest-free loans for overdue rent. Limited funding for Emergency Rental Deposit Loans is available for low-income households requiring first and last month’s rent to move into more affordable/stable housing. Those receiving social assistance or living in a rent-geared-to-income units are not eligible for Rent Bank services. More information here and here.

Mortgage Payment Deferrals

Canada‚Äôs six big banks jointly announced a plan to allow¬†mortgage payment deferrals up to 6-months¬†to help customers struggling with the financial impacts of COVID-19. It is important to note that deferred mortgage payments are typically added back to the mortgage amount, meaning borrowers are simply postponing ‚ÄĒ not skipping ‚ÄĒ payments. Interest on outstanding balances continues to accrue.

The lender is allowing a payment deferral and your mortgage / loan will not be deemed in default. Other possible solutions include allowing borrowers to defer or temporarily reduce payments, stretching out the mortgage term or amortization period, adding missed payments back onto the mortgages and lowering the mortgage rate.

If you are seeking some relief from the financial responsibility of home ownership during this difficult time, call your lender to explore this option further.

COVID-19 Relief Effort by Canadian Muslim Response Network

The Canadian Muslim Response Network has launched an effort to ensure everyone in our community has the essential food and hygiene products. If you are in self-isolation, quarantined, or a senior individual, and do not have the access or the means to acquire basic food and hygiene items, please fill out this form.

Friendly Neighbour Hotline by Open Lab at University Health Network

A single phone number seniors living in low-income housing in Toronto can call, connected to a network of volunteers throughout the city who can help with picking up groceries and household essentials during this difficult time. Call the toll-free hotline at 1-855-581-9580 or see more information here.

Asian Unification Project

The goal of this project is to provide support for elderly & immunocompromised Asian communities by delivering groceries or running errands, minimizing the contact they have with the outside. More information here

Toronto Hydro Financial Assistance

Apply for a $500 per year credit. More information here.

Internet Providers Waiving Fees

Telecommunication companies including Rogers, Bell and Telus will be waiving any additional usage fees for residential internet customers. TekSavvy also committed to stop charging overage fees until April 5, while Bell and Telus will be waiving overage fees until the end of April. Contact your internet provider for more information.

Centre for Social Innovation’s Business and Community Resources Guide

A crowdsourced guide to support the community of social entrepreneurs during and after this unprecedented time. The resources here have been submitted by CSI Members and curated by our CSI staff team. More information here. 

North American Mutual Aid Fund for LGBTQI+ BIPOC Folks

This mutual aid fund prioritizes LGBTQI+, non-binary, gender fluid, and gender non-conforming people of colour because we often have less ties to familial support networks, we have historically been simultaneously overlooked and surveilled by welfare state systems, our needs have been surplus to mainstream political formations, and we tend to work in the gig economy. More information here. 

City Share Canada

CityShare Canada is a crowdsourced platform that aggregates examples of community-based resilience in action, and that accelerates collective problem-solving to help local communities across Canada respond to COVID-19. Sharing on-the-ground stories, tools, and resources on how communities are coping and adapting, will hasten Canada’s resilience and recovery. Search for resources in your geographical area here.

Federal Government ‚Äď Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP)

The Government of Canada established a Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) to provide $65 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). BDC and EDC are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses, including in sectors such as oil and gas, air transportation, exportation and tourism. This program includes:

  • Canada Emergency Business Account:¬†The new Canada Emergency Business Account will provide interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. To qualify, these organizations will need to demonstrate they paid between $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019.
  • Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises:¬†EDC is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to SMEs.
  • Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises:¬†BDC is working with financial institutions to co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts of up to $6.25 million through the program.

These programs will roll out in the three weeks after March 27, and interested businesses should work with their current financial institutions. More information here.

Federal Government ‚Äď Deferral of Sales Tax Remittance and Customs Duty Payments

The Government of Canada will allow businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the Goods and Services Tax / Harmonized Sales Tax (GST/HST), as well as customs duties owing on their imports. More information here.

Business Development Bank of Canada ‚ÄstPurchase order financing

Cover up to 90% of the purchase order amount to ease cash flow to your suppliers. More information here. 

Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020.  This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

Daily Hive offers free Instagram advertising for small businesses

The Daily Hive is offering small business in Toronto free advertising through their Instagram static posts and stories. If you have an online component (i.e., e-commerce, take-out, gift card, pick-up services), or are now unfortunately closed but have a message of hope to send to their staff, customers, or community,

email More information here.

Digital Main Street ‚Äď Resources for Small Businesses during COVID-19

Digital Main Street will continually be compiling a list of relevant resources for your small business needs. More information here. by the City of Toronto is an online donation platform that allows community members to make direct donations to small businesses to help lessen the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This platform allows customers to continue to support local main street businesses impacted by non-essential closures, such as coffee shops, restaurants and hair salons. Local businesses can visit to set up their free account today. Toronto residents who are able, can make a secure online donation to their favourite local business to alleviate expenses, such as rent and payroll.

Federal Government Programs and Supports

Employment Insurance sickness benefits for COVID-19

Find out if you qualify for employment insurance, if you have a positive case of COVID-19 or if you are experiencing lay-offs: More information here.

Economic Response Plan for COVID-19

Numerous other initiatives announced by the federal government to aid Canadians during the COVID-19 pandemic are forthcoming, including deferred tax payments, Enhanced Canada Child Benefits, interest-free student loans, and more. More information here.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

To support workers and help businesses keep their employees, the government has proposed legislation to establish the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This 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. The CERB would be a simpler and more accessible combination of the previously announced Emergency Care Benefit and Emergency Support Benefit.

The Toronto Arts Council clarified CERB in their March 26 update: ‚ÄúAlso of note for arts organizations: workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation due to COVID-19, will also qualify for the CERB. This will help arts organizations keep their employees as they navigate these difficult times, while ensuring they preserve the ability to quickly resume operations as soon as it becomes possible.‚ÄĚ

The CERB would cover 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. The CERB would apply to wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for Employment Insurance (EI). More information here.

Tip:¬†Make sure to set up your¬† ‚ÄúMy Accounts‚ÄĚ service with CRA now so that it is already active once the application process opens in April for the Emergency Benefits programs.

Canada Revenue Agency ‚Äď Tax Filing Extensions

For individuals (other than trusts), the return filing due date will be deferred until June 1, 2020.  However, the CRA encourages individuals who expect to receive benefits under the GSTC or the Canada Child Benefit not to delay the filing of their return to ensure their entitlements for the 2020-21 benefit year are properly determined.

For trusts having a taxation year ending on December 31, 2019, the return filing due date will be deferred until May 1, 2020.

Government of Canada ‚Äď Increased GST Credit

Starting in May, the Government of Canada is planning on providing additional assistance to individuals and families with low and modest incomes with a special top-up payment under the GST credit. On average, close to $400 for single individuals and close to $600 for couples will be provided. No need to apply; if you are eligible, you will automatically receive the credit. More information here.


Province of Ontario Government Programs and Supports

Child Benefit

The Province is helping families pay for the extra costs associated with school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing a one-time payment of $200 per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs, including children enrolled in private schools.

Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) ‚Äď Loan and Interest Accrual Relief

The Province of Ontario is providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief for students, leaving more money in people’s pockets.

Ontario Works ‚Äď Expanding Emergency Assistance Program

The Province is expanding access to the emergency assistance program administered by Ontario Works to provide financial support to people facing economic hardship and help more people meet basic needs such as food and rent during this public health emergency.

Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP)

The Province is providing $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low-income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Guaranteed Annual Income System (Gains)

The Province is proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment for low-income seniors for six months.

More information on these announcements here.

Six-month Insurance Premium Deferrals for Employers

The Ontario Government is enabling $1.9 billion in relief for employers to reduce the financial strain on business brought on by COVID-19. The measure, which will run through the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB), will see premium payments deferred for six months for all businesses in the province. More information here.


City of Toronto Programs

Toronto Employment & Social Services

Employment & Social Services provides financial benefits through Ontario Works, employment supports and social supports to people living in Toronto. More information here.

City of Toronto Economic Support & Recovery

The focus of the Task Force will be on quickly determining what current supports and stimulus work needs to be done. The City will work with industry partners to identify actions to support businesses, workers, and residents in responding to the economic impact of COVID-19. This Task Force will enable the City to better respond to the evolving challenges with its partners in government, business and non-profits. More information including immediate actions here.

City of Toronto ‚Äď Utility Bill 30-Day Extension

Residents of the City of Toronto will automatically receive a 30-day extension on their utility bill to help during COVID-19. More information here.

City of Toronto ‚Äď Property Tax 30-Day Extensions

Even with the 30-day extensions, the City of Toronto is still offering the early payment discount for property tax bills. More information here.



Stress Management Resources

Finances are just one stress in this period of isolation and quarantine. The COVID-19 is causing high levels of stress and anxiety.

Take care of your mental health, and practice self- and community care in the months to come. Check in on your creative community, who may be feeling lonely or struggling behind closed doors.

We’ve compiled a few resources to help you manage the stress of COVID-10:

Friendly check-ins by phone or email by The 519

As access to community spaces is limited right now, The 519 is offering our communities a friendly phone or email check-in by The 519 staff once a week during Monday to Friday. This service is to check-in on how you are doing, and offer information and updates; it is not personal counselling but a way to combat social isolation. Register using the following online form.

Bounce Back Online: A Self Directed Course (Canadian Mental Health Association)

The Bounce Back Online, a self-directed course from the Canadian Mental Health Association to help people manage low mood, stress, and anxiety. The online version is available for free, no referral needed. More information here.

Work Responsibly

A collection of resources for a healthy and balanced approach to work, covering sleep, anxiety, stress and focus. More information here.

Other helpful stress management resources:

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