Every Must-Know COVID-19 Fund Update for Your Business


With new COVID-19 stimulus announcements coming out every day, it can be difficult for businesses and nonprofits to keep track of what’s out there to support their operations. What’s more, there is often a delay between when a program is first announced and when the money becomes available, making it even harder to stay on top of important funding opportunities.  

Last week, the Government of Canada announced several new measures to support businesses and other employers that were not previously eligible for existing programs, with a specific focus on pre-revenue innovation-sector businesses and established businesses in the energy sector.

Below is a list of all the important program changes and updates you need to know, plus some reminders on key programs.

If You Need Help Keeping Employees on Payroll

  • Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. A 75% wage subsidy will be made available to qualifying individuals businesses, nonprofits, and charities for March 15-June 6. To qualify, employers must show their monthly revenues have fallen by at least 30% (15% for March). Wages covered will be capped at $847 per week per employee, with no limit on the number of employees. The Government is also proposing that eligible employers be entitled to receive a 100% refund for certain employer-paid contributions to EI, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan. Applications will be accepted through the CRA’s website starting on April 27 and money will begin to flow on May 5.
  • Temporary Wage Subsidy. This program provides employers with a 10% temporary wage subsidy for a three-month period. Employers can receive up to $25,000. Applications are not required; employers can reduce their current payroll remittance of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax to send the CRA by the amount of the subsidy immediately. Businesses can also apply to the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy while benefiting from this program.
  • Canada Summer Jobs Program Update. Private and public sector employers can now receive up to 100% of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee. The end date for employment is extended to Feb. 28, 2021. Employers can now adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services and can hire staff on a part-time basis.

If You’re an Innovative Business That Hasn’t Qualified for Funding So Far

  • $675M for Regional Development. Canada’s six Regional Development Agencies (RDAs) (FedDev Ontario, Western Economic Diversification, Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions, ACOA, FedNor, and CanNor) will use this money to provide bridge financing support to businesses unable to access broader support measures. Application details have not yet been released, visit your local RDA website for more information.

If You’re a Pre-Revenue Innovative Startup

  • $250M for IRAP. NRC-IRAP, Canada’s most important grant program for industrial R&D, will receive this money to support innovative firms that do not yet have revenue or are in the early stages of development. In order to be eligible, businesses must have fewer than 500 employees and not be eligible under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy and the Business Credit Availability Program. Applications will open on the IRAP website on Apr. 22.

If You’re an Entrepreneur Under 40

  • $20.1M in Loans for Young Entrepreneurs. Futurpreneur Canada, a national nonprofit that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to entrepreneurs aged 18-39, will use this money to provide ongoing lending to young entrepreneurs. Apply through the Futurpreneur website.

If You’re a Small Business Struggling to Pay Rent

  • Rental Assistance. The Government intends to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) to provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June. This program has not yet been launched because it requires provincial cooperation. Make sure to inform your landlord of this program to see if you can benefit from its launch.

If You’re in the Energy Sector

  • $2B for the Energy Sector. The Government is investing this money to create and protect jobs and important environmental benefits, as well as make available new tailored credit solutions for SMEs. The targeted actions are expected to retain and create approximately 10,000 well-paying jobs. Application details have not yet been released.
  • $750M for GHG Reductions in the Oil and Gas Sector. Natural Resources Canada will create a new repayable loan program to work with conventional and offshore oil and gas companies to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions (GHGs). A portion of these loans will be convertible to grants. Application details have not yet been released.

If You’re in the Agriculture and Agri-food Sector

  • $50M in Sectorial Support. The federal government will provide $1.5k per temporary foreign worker employed by farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers to ensure isolation period requirements are fully met. This program will be available as long as the Quarantine Act is in force and the isolation protocol is followed. Application details have not yet been released.
  • $1M for Agri-Food Jobs in Ontario. The Place to Grow: Agri-Food Innovation Initiative – Addressing Labour Supply and Training Challenges program, administered by OMAFRA, will connect workers with in-demand jobs in the agri-food sector to keep the nation’s supply chains strong and store shelves stocked during the COVID-19 pandemic. Applications are now open.
  • Funding for Québec’s Agriculture and Agri-Food Sector. The Financière Agricole du Québec will now provide loans of up to $50k to businesses to help them continue their operations. Loans will be repaid over 10 years, and no payments will be made for the first 12 months. Contact the funder to apply.
  • $45M for Recruiting Agricultural Workers. This money, administered by the Union des producteurs agricoles (UPA) and AGRIcarrières, will help attract agricultural workers.

If You’re in the Publishing and Media Sector

  • Expanded Tax Credit Program. News publishers and media organizations that receive support through the ‘Aid to Publishers’ grant of the Canada Periodical Fund will now qualify for the Canadian journalism labour tax credit.

If You’re a Business in Rural or Northern Canada

  • $287M for Rural Regions. The Community Futures Network will receive this funding to support rural communities and businesses. Visit your local Community Futures website for more information.
  • $15M for Northern Businesses. Businesses in Yukon, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut will receive funding to assist with operating costs. Funding will be distributed through CanNor.

If You’re Self-Employed and Lost Your Income

  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB). This taxable benefit will provide $2000 a month for up to four months to workers who lose their income due to the pandemic. It is available to workers and those who are self-employed and stopped working due to COVID-19. Applications can now be filed on Canada.ca/coronavirus. Low-income essential workers will also be provided with a temporary salary top-up.

If You’re an Indigenous-owned Business

  • $306.8M for Indigenous SMEs. The funding will provide approximately 6000 Indigenous-owned businesses access short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions through Aboriginal Financial Institutions. Contact your institution of choice for more information.

If You Simply Need a Loan

  • $32.5B for the Canada Emergency Business Account. This program, available through Export Development Canada (EDC) and private lenders, provides small businesses and nonprofits with interest-free loans of up to $40k to help cover their operating costs. To qualify, applicants need to demonstrate they paid $20k-$1.5M in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before Dec. 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25% (up to $10k). As of April 9, organizations can apply directly through their banks or credit unions.
  • $10B for Financing and Credit Solutions. The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), administered by BDC and EDC, provides $10B in additional financing and credit insurance solutions for businesses. Credit-worthy businesses seeking financing to support their operations and maintain jobs can contact their existing BDC, EDC or private bank account manager to obtain a loan at current market rates. This program has now been expanded to support medium-sized businesses with larger financing needs, beginning with companies in the energy sector.

If You’re in the Cultural, Heritage and Sports Sector

  • $500M COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations. This money, administered by Canadian Heritage, will help address the financial needs of affected organizations. Contact the funder for more information.

Looking for a list of all federal, provincial, and territorial programs announced since March? Find it here.


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