Ontario Announces New Supports while the Chamber Continues to Call for Targeted Action for Businesses
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
Today, the Ontario Government announced that it is providing additional relief measures for businesses and people impacted by the current public health measures aimed at blunting the spread of the Omicron variant. It announced 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.

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.

“We welcome new supports announced today by the Ontario government and their responsiveness to our feedback. However, we are deeply concerned about those businesses that will be left behind. On the one hand, the grant is too narrow as it only applies to businesses that were required to fully close. It misses those that are at limited capacity or those losing revenue as a result of restrictions affecting their clients (such as food service suppliers). On the other hand, the electricity subsidy is too broad as it will largely benefit ratepayers that are not impacted by current restrictions." - Rocco Rossi, OCC President & CEO
Letter to Ontario Minister of Finance
re: Dire Straights for Ontario's Small Businesses

Prior to today's announcement, on behalf of the Ontario Chamber Network, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce has been calling on the Ontario Government to provide immediate relief to small businesses who are on the verge of bankruptcy in light of the new restrictions. These recommendations include:

  • Extend the Small Business Support Grant for a third round
  • Work with the federal government to increase rental subsidies
  • Immediately open the recently announced portal
  • Expand access to rapid antigen tests and PCR testing
  • Work with financial institutions and the federal government to forgive loans
  • Offer an additional grant to cover increased pandemic-related expenses
  • Reduce uncertainty for business by developing a consistent plan
  • Provide clarity and consistency on specific metrics that inform decisions

ICYMI: Previously Announced
Government Support for Business
  • Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit: providing $300 a week in income support to eligible workers who are directly impacted by a COVID-19-related public health lockdown in their region up until May 7, 2022.

  • The Local Lockdown Program: providing businesses that face temporary new local lockdowns up to the maximum amount available through the wage and rent subsidy programs.

  • Canada Recovery Hiring Program: extended until May 7, 2022, for eligible employers with current revenue losses above 10 per cent and increasing the subsidy rate to 50 per cent.

  • 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. Online applications for this program will open in mid-January 2022, with payments to eligible businesses provided retroactive to December 19, 2021.

  • Improving Cash Flow for Ontario Businesses: A six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. The six-month period will begin January 1, 2022 and end July 1, 2022.