An Update for Small Business OwnersPublished on May 19, 2020
An update on Ontario's response to the COVID-19 crisis for members of the Port Credit Business Improvement Association (BIA), and other local small business owners in Mississauga-Lakeshore.
Because of the collective efforts of all Ontarians, including everyone here in Mississauga-Lakeshore, to stay at home as much as possible to stop the spread of COVID-19, we have dramatically reduced the growth of cases in the province.
We are very fortunate that so many people are following the advice of Health Minister Christine Elliott and Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. David Williams. I am also very thankful for the many local businesses who have reached out to provide donations of food, supplies, and personal protective equipment for those who need it most.
It is because of your determination and resolve that we’re now able move into the next phase of our battle against this virus. At the same time, we recognize that the sacrifices in this fight have not been shared equally; after our frontline health care workers, small businesses – the backbone of our communities – have been amongst the hardest hit.
That’s why we’re committed to do everything in our power to support you, and to ensure that you’re ready to safely reopen your doors as soon as possible. As the Premier has said, we must spare no expense to support Ontarians through this difficult time, and to ensure that no one is left behind. Please see below for a summary of some of the assistance we have already provided, and some of the new resources available for small businesses in Mississauga-Lakeshore.
For the latest information from the Province, including how to recognize the symptoms of COVID-19, please visit Ontario.ca/coronavirus. If you or your family develop symptoms, please use our Self-Assessment Tool to help determine how to seek further care. You may also call Telehealth at 1-866-797-0000, or Peel Public Health at 905-799-7700.
As always, if you have any questions or concerns, if you need any other information, or if there’s ever anything else my staff and I can do to assist you through this difficult time, please do not hesitate to contact us.
While my community office remains closed to in-person visits at this time, you can contact us by phone at 905-274-8228 from Monday to Friday, 9:30am to 5:00pm, or anytime by email, at [email protected].
Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP
To help stop the spread of COVID-19, we asked businesses to temporarily close non-essential workplaces. With recent modelling showing signs that our enhanced public health measures are working to flatten the curve, Ontario recently released a Framework for Reopening our Province. With this framework, effective May 19th, Ontario has entered in its first stage to reopening the province.
The government is taking a careful, stage-by-stage approach to loosening emergency measures and reopening Ontario’s economy:
- Beginning March 8th, at 12:01 a.m., garden centres and nurseries will be allowed to reopen for in-store purchases.
- Beginning March 9th, at 12:01 a.m., hardware stores will be allowed to reopen for in-store purchases.
- Beginning March 11th, at 12:01 a.m., retail stores with a street entrance can provide curbside pick-up and delivery.
- Beginning May 16, at 12:01 a.m., golf courses, marinas, private parks, campgrounds, and businesses that board animals will be able to open
- Beginning May 19, at 12:01 a.m., retailers, seasonal businesses like outdoor multi-use fields, animal services like pet grooming, and health and community service providers will be able to open or expand services
The government, in partnership with various health and safety organizations, has released more than 60 guidance documents in response to COVID-19. These documents can help you better understand your responsibilities, and they include resources and best practices you can use to help comply with your legal obligations to protect the health and safety of your workers.
Please consult our updated list of essential workplaces and our latest news releases:
- Ontario Further Eases Restrictions on Retail Stores and Essential Construction During COVID-19
- Certain Businesses Allowed to Reopen Under Strict Safety Guidelines
If you require further information, please contact Service Ontario at 1-866-532-3161 or the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
Our Government will spare no expense to support Ontarians during this difficult time, and to ensure that no one is left behind. As a first step to fulfill this commitment, I joined my colleagues at Queen’s Park to help pass a $17 billion COVID-19 Action Plan.
It provides relief by:
Deferring Provincial Taxes
We are providing a five-month interest and penalty-free period to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes.
Between April 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, the province will not apply any penalty or interest on any late-filed returns or incomplete or late tax payments under select provincially administered taxes, such as:
- Employer Health Tax
- Tobacco Tax
- Fuel Tax
- Gas Tax
- Beer, Wine & Spirits Tax
- Mining Tax
- Insurance Premium Tax
- International Fuel Tax Agreement
- Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts and Benefit Plans
- Race Tracks Tax
This is expected to free up as much as $6 billion in cash flow for about 100,000 businesses. It complements relief from the federal government on interest and penalties from not remitting Corporate Income Tax owing.
If you have any questions, please contact: 1-866-ONT-TAXS (1-866-668-8297), or click here for further information.
Deferring WSIB Payments
Employers can defer Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) payments for up to six months. No penalties or interest will be charged during this period.
All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for this financial relief package, and there is no requirement to notify the WSIB.
- Schedule 1 employers who owe premiums to the WSIB will be allowed to defer reporting and payments until August 1, 2020.
- Schedule 2 businesses that pay WSIB for the cost related to their workplace injury and illness claims can defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020.
The deferred premiums will amount to an average $1,760 for approximately 275,000 Ontario businesses.
Employer Health Tax Relief
We’re increasing the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million. As an employer, this means relief of up to $9,945.
The annual tax return form is not changing. Only the amount for the exemption claimed will change. Eligibility for the tax exemption, tax rates and everything else remains the same.
You will begin making your instalment payments after your payroll has exceeded the new $1 million exemption level.
If your business no longer needs to make instalment payments as a result of the increased exemption amount, you do not need to notify the Ministry of Finance.
If you have already filed a final or special return for 2020, the Ministry will review your 2020 EHT return, and correct it for the new exemption level.
Deferring Property Tax
We have deferred the June 30 property tax payments municipalities make to school boards by 90 days. This provides municipalities with the flexibility to provide property tax deferrals of over $1.8 billion to local residents and businesses, while ensuring school boards receive their funding.
Reducing Electricity Bills
The Province has fixed time-of-use hydro rates at the lowest, “off-peak” price of 10.1 cents/kWh, 24 hours a day, from March 24 until at least May 31. There is need to apply. Reduced rates will be applied to your bill automatically.
The Province has committed $241 million to partner with the federal government and deliver more than $900 million in urgent relief to small businesses and their landlords through the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA).
The OCECRA will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75 per cent, and commit to a moratorium on evictions for three months.
The OCECRA will be administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and become available until September 30, 2020. Support will be retroactive to April 1, covering April, May and June 2020.
An eligible small business tenant is one that pays monthly rent not exceeding $50,000 in gross rent payments; and is a non-essential small business that has temporarily closed, or that is experiencing a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues (determined by comparing revenues in April, May or June to the same month in 2019, or alternatively compared to average revenues for January and February 2020).
Commercial properties with a residential component, and residential mixed-use properties with a 30 per cent commercial component, would be equally eligible for support with respect to their commercial tenants. Not-for-profit organizations and charitable entities will also be considered for the program.
For more information, please read my announcement.
The Province has launched COVID-19: Tackling the Barriers, a website to help businesses overcome the unique challenges created by the global pandemic.
Businesses working to retool their operations to produce health-related products, or those that want to continue their operations in this new environment of physical distancing, can submit any potential roadblocks to this website.
The Province is prepared to allow temporary changes to provincial rules and regulations to remove any barriers that are hindering business and negatively impacting Ontario's supply chain.
Ontario Together Fund
If your business or organization has emergency products (such as swabs, masks and eye protection), services or solutions that can help support our response to COVID-19, please tell us now through our Ontario Together initiative.
We are providing $50 million in funding to provide immediate support to businesses, organizations and communities who are teaming up with the province to combat COVID-19.
This is a one-time fund, and is available to companies and organizations across Ontario to apply.
The fund will help companies make investments to build their capacity or provide technological solutions, either in new equipment or retooling. This will allow them to quickly pivot to manufacturing critical supplies and equipment needed in hospitals, long-term care homes, and other priority public services.
Submit your proposals now at Ontario Together. Priority will be given to the most viable, innovative proposals that can quickly provide critical goods and services and the greatest benefit to the people of Ontario.
Agri-Food Open for E-Business Program
The Province has announced the Agri-Food Open for E-Business program to help food producers, farmers markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries and agricultural associations expand online, offering more food choices for families who are shopping from home during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Eligible organizations and businesses can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to establish an online e-business and marketing presence. As well, eligible organizations, businesses and collaborations can apply for cost share funding for up to $75,000 to implement high-impact projects.
Applications are now live and are reviewed on an ongoing basis.
More information is available online or by calling 1-877-424-1300.
Allowing 24/7 and Alcohol Deliveries
All businesses may accept 24/7 deliveries to help ensure important goods - such as food, medication, and essential household items – can be delivered as efficiently as possible, without the restrictions of municipal noise by-laws. This will help keep shelves stocked with necessary food and medication, and help our supply chain operate quickly during this crisis.
Ontario is also allowing takeout and delivery of alcohol with a food order from licensed restaurants and bars; no application process or fee required.
We have also reduced the minimum price a licensed bar or restaurant is required to sell spirits by 33 per cent. This change will stay in effect until January 1, 2021 to match the duration of the previously announced temporary change that allows bars and restaurants to sell alcohol with food for takeout or delivery.
The holder of the liquor sales licence is accountable for the responsible sale and delivery of alcohol. This includes making sure the person to whom the order is delivered is at least 19 years old, and is not intoxicated. The licensee or its staff involved in the delivery of alcohol must have successfully completed Smart Serve training.
Other helpful resources
The federal government is also helping businesses. Learn more about the assistance they offer.
- The Government of Canada’s resources for Canadian businesses
- Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses: COVID-19 Small Business Help Centre
- Ontario Chamber of Commerce: Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit for COVID-19
- Canadian Chamber of Commerce: COVID-19 Business Resilience
- Pandemic Preparedness Guide for Business
Office of Rudy Cuzzetto, MPP