COVID-19

 

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January 7, 2021 - Ontario Providing Supports for Small Businesses, Workers and Families 

Province’s plan includes $10,000 grant for eligible small businesses and additional electricity-rate relief. 

The Ontario government is providing targeted relief for businesses and people  impacted by the current public health measures aimed at blunting the spread of the Omicron variant. As part of this plan, the government is introducing a $10,000 grant for eligible businesses that are subject to closures under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen and is providing additional electricity-rate relief for businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home.

 

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“Our government understands that public health measures needed to blunt the spread of the Omicron variant are impacting the lives and livelihoods of small businesses, workers and families across Ontario,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “Since the first day of the pandemic, we have provided unprecedented levels of support to protect people, jobs and our economy. We will continue to deliver on that commitment.”

As part of a comprehensive plan to support workers and businesses, the government is announcing an Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant for small businesses that are subject to closure under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. It will provide eligible small businesses with a grant payment of $10,000.

Eligible small businesses include:

  • Restaurants and bars;
  • Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms);
  • Performing arts and cinemas;
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
  • Meeting or event spaces;
  • Tour and guide services;
  • Conference centres and convention centres;
  • Driving instruction for individuals; and
  • Before- and after- school programs.

Eligible businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and that are subject to closure under modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen will be pre-screened to verify eligibility and will not need to apply to the new program. Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply once the application portal opens in the coming weeks. Small businesses that qualify can expect to receive their payment in February.

The Ontario government is also providing electricity-rate relief to support small businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home while the province is in Modified Step Two. For 21 days starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, electricity prices will be set 24 hours a day at the current off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate. The off-peak rate will apply automatically to residential, small businesses and farms who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board and get a bill from a utility and will benefit customers on both Time-of-Use and Tiered rate plans.

Read Media Release

January 3, 2021 - Ontario Temporarily Moving to Modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen

In response to recent trends that show an alarming increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is temporarily moving the province into Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen with modifications that take into account the province’s successful vaccination efforts. These time-limited measures will help blunt transmission and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed as the province continues to accelerate its booster dose rollout. As part of the province’s response to the Omicron variant, starting January 5, students will pivot to remote learning with free emergency child care planned for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers.

“As we continue with our provincial vaccine booster efforts, we must look at every option to slow the spread of the highly contagious Omicron variant,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Putting these targeted and time-limited measures in place will give us more opportunity to deliver vaccines to all Ontarians and ensure everyone has maximum protection against this virus.”

Unlike other variants throughout the pandemic, evolving data is showing that while the Omicron variant is less severe, its high transmissibility has resulted in a larger number of hospital admissions relative to ICU admissions. Staff absenteeism is also expected to rise and affect operations in workplaces across Ontario due to Omicron infection and exposure, including in hospitals and schools. Real-world experience and evidence in Ontario reveal that approximately one per cent of Omicron cases require hospital care. The rapid rise of Omicron cases, which may soon number in the hundreds of thousands, could result in the province’s hospital capacity becoming overwhelmed if further action isn’t taken to curb transmission. When one in 100 cases goes to hospital, it means that with this rapid increase in transmission the number of new cases requiring hospitalization will also rapidly increase daily. For example, 50,000 cases per day would mean 500 hospital admissions per day, which is greater than the peak daily hospitalizations of 265 per day from last spring, when hospitals were under significant strain during the third wave of the pandemic.

In response, the province will return to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators.

These measures include:

  • Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
  • Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.
  • Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.
  • Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits.
  • Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close.
  • Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed.
  • Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions.
  • Public libraries limited to 50 per cent capacity.
  • Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
  • Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.
  • Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.
  • Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity.
  • Closing indoor horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy limited to 50 per cent capacity. Boat tours permitted at 50 per cent capacity.
  • Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.
  • All publicly funded and private schools will move to remote learning starting January 5 until at least January 17, subject to public health trends and operational considerations.
  • School buildings would be permitted to open for child care operations, including emergency child care, to provide in-person instruction for students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated remotely and for staff who are unable to deliver quality instruction from home.
  • During this period of remote learning, free emergency child care will be provided for school-aged children of health care and other eligible frontline workers.

Please view the regulation for the full list of mandatory public health and workplace safety measures.

Read Media Release

December 22, 2021 - Government Temporarily Expands Access to Lockdown Program and Worker Lockdown Benefit 

The Government of Canada is committed to supporting Canadian workers and businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic.

Today, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, announced the federal government’s intention to temporarily expand eligibility for key support programs to ensure Canadians are protected and workers and businesses get the help they need to sustain them through new and necessary public health restrictions.

Using regulatory authority provided in Bill C-2, the government intends to introduce new regulations that would:

  • Expand the Local Lockdown Program to include employers subject to capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more; and reduce the current-month revenue decline threshold requirement to 25 per cent. Eligible employers will receive wage and rent subsidies from 25 per cent up to a maximum of 75 per cent, depending on their degree of revenue loss. The 12-month revenue decline test continues to not be required in order to access this support.
  • Expand the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit to include workers in regions where provincial or territorial governments have introduced capacity-limiting restrictions of 50 per cent or more. As announced previously, this benefit will provide $300 a week in income support to eligible workers who are directly affected by a COVID-19-related public health lockdown, and who have lost 50 per cent or more of their income as a result.

These updated regulations will apply from December 19, 2021, to February 12, 2022, during which time it is expected that public health authorities will continue to implement “circuit-breaker” restrictions that limit the spread of the Omicron variant of COVID-19 across Canada.

More details on the expansion of these support measures are available in the backgrounder associated with today’s announcement.

Read Media Release

December 22, 2021 - Ontario Launches New Supports for Businesses

Rebate program cuts property taxes and energy costs; New cash flow supports providing up to $7.5 billion for businesses, including those affected by Omicron restrictions. 

The Ontario government is introducing new supports for many of the businesses that are most impacted by public health measures in response to the Omicron variant. These supports include a new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program and a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes.

“Ontario businesses have already contributed so much to the province’s fight against COVID-19,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “We recognize that these necessary capacity limits to reduce the transmission of the virus will impact businesses, and that’s why we are introducing these new supports, which will put money directly into the hands of business and free up their cash flows during this critical time.”

Through the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program, eligible businesses will receive rebate payments equivalent to 50 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to the current capacity limits. This will provide support to businesses that are expected to be most impacted financially by the requirement to reduce capacity to 50 per cent. Examples of businesses that will be eligible for the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program include restaurants, smaller retail stores and gyms. A full list of eligible business types will be made available through a program guide in mid-January 2022.

Online applications for this program will open in mid-January 2022, with payments to eligible businesses provided retroactive to December 19, 2021. Businesses will be required to submit property tax and energy bills as part of the application process.

“I commend business owners for pivoting quickly as we respond to the Omicron variant in our continued fight against COVID-19,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “It is essential that we support them during their time of need, and that’s why our new rebate program will provide them with the support they need right now on their energy bills.”

The province is also providing additional support to help improve cash flows for Ontario businesses by providing a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes, supporting businesses in the immediate term while capacity restrictions are in place while providing the flexibility Ontario businesses will need for long-term planning. The six-month period will begin January 1, 2022 and end July 1, 2022.

This measure will provide up to $7.5 billion in relief to help approximately 80,000 Ontario businesses. With this help, approximately 80,000 businesses will have the option to delay their payments for the following provincially administered taxes, helping them free up cash flow during these challenging times:

Employer Health Tax
Beer, Wine & Spirits Taxes
Tobacco Tax
Insurance Premium Tax
Fuel Tax
International Fuel Tax Agreement
Gas Tax
Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts & Benefit Plans
Mining Tax
Race Tracks Tax

Read Media Release

December 17, 2021 - Ontario Further Strengthening Response to Omicron

In response to the rapidly-spreading and highly transmissible Omicron variant, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is applying additional public health and workplace safety measures, including capacity and social gathering limits. These measures will help curb transmission and continue to safeguard the Ontario’s hospitals and ICU capacity as the province continues to rapidly accelerate its booster dose rollout.

“Throughout this entire pandemic, we’ve never faced an enemy like Omicron given how quickly it spreads,” said Premier Doug Ford. “We need to do everything we can to slow its spread as we continue to dramatically ramp up capacity to get as many booster shots into arms as possible. Doing so is the best way to safeguard our hospital and intensive care units.”

The latest modelling suggests that the increased transmissibility of the Omicron variant could put additional strain on Ontario’s hospital capacity, making it critical to slow the spread as the government dramatically increases vaccine capacity and expands eligibility for third booster doses. The province recently doubled its vaccination capacity and continues to ramp up further to get as many vaccines into arms as possible. Over 156,000 doses were administered on December 16, 2021 with capacity increased to 200,000 to 300,000 in the coming days.

To further strengthen its response to Omicron and reduce opportunities for close contact as the province gets as many vaccines into arms as possible, Ontario is introducing a 50 per cent capacity limit in the following indoor public settings:

  • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments and strip clubs;
  • Personal care services;
  • Personal physical fitness trainers;
  • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies);
  • Shopping malls;
  • Non-spectator areas of facilities used for sports and recreational fitness activities (e.g. gyms);
  • Indoor recreational amenities;
  • Indoor clubhouses at outdoor recreational amenities;
  • Tour and guide services; and
  • Photography studios and services; and
  • Marinas and boating clubs.

These limits do not apply to any portion of a business or place that is being used for a wedding, a funeral or a religious service, rite, or ceremony. Businesses or facilities will also need to post a sign stating the capacity limits that are permitted in the establishment.

To further reduce the spread of COVID-19 and the Omicron variant, additional protective measures are also being applied:

  • The number of patrons permitted to sit at a table will be limited to 10 people and patrons will be required to remain seated in restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments, meeting and event spaces and strip clubs.
  • Bars and restaurants, meeting and event spaces and strip clubs will be required to close by 11 p.m. Take out and delivery will be permitted beyond 11 p.m.
  • Dancing will not be allowed except for workers or performers.
  • Food and/or drink services will be prohibited at sporting events; concert venues, theatres and cinemas; casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments; and horse racing tracks, car racing tracks and other similar venues.
  • The sale of alcohol will be restricted after 10 p.m. and consumption of alcohol in businesses or settings after 11 p.m.

In addition, to mitigate COVID-19 transmission that can occur at informal social gatherings, the province is also reducing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.

These restrictions will come into effect on 12:01 a.m. on Sunday, December 19, 2021.

Read Media Release

Additional Resources

Primary Federal and Provincial Support for Businesses

 

Canadian Emergency Wage Subsidy

Program extended to June

Get a Subsidy of Up to 75% of Employee Wages

Free e-commerce website button

Free e-Commerce Websites

Add e-Commerce to your business with a free website

DMS Ontario Grants button

$2,500 Digital Transformation Grants 

Stop the spread - business informationGuidance document for essential workplaces