Governments launch new supports for businesses

Both the federal and Ontario governments have introduced new supports and expanded aid eligibility amid new operating restrictions

ON WEDNESDAY, BOTH the Canadian and Ontario governments announced new supports for businesses whose bottom lines will be most impacted by public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

On the provincial end, the primary measure is a program that will offers affected businesses rebate payments equivalent to 50 per cent of the property tax and energy costs incurred while capacity limits remain in place. Businesses eligible for the program include restaurants, gyms and smaller retailers, the Ministry of Finance said in a news release.

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The application process will open in mid-January, with payments to eligible businesses retroactive to December 19, 2021, the finance ministry said.

In addition, the province is also providing a six-month interest and penalty-free period for businesses to make payments on many provincial taxes, starting on January 1 and running through to July 1, 2022.

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To read the full release from the province, click here.

The federal government is also expanding eligibility for certain pandemic aid programs.

In an address Wednesday afternoon, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said the Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit and the Local Lockdown Program will be opened up to workers and employers affected by rules capping capacity at 50 per cent or more.

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The Canada Worker Lockdown benefit provides $300 per week in supports to eligible workers.

The Local Lockdown Program provides wage and rent subsidies ranging from 25 to 75 per cent to eligible employers. The government on Wednesday lowered the threshold for eligibility ― employers will now have to show a revenue decline of at least 25 per cent for the current month, compared to the earlier cut-off of 40 per cent.

Business associations were for the most part positive about the additional measures, though they add more needs to be done.

“We welcome new measures announced today by the provincial and federal governments, Overall, this is good news for businesses and workers heading into the holiday season when they need it the most,” said Rocco Rossi, president and CEO of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC). “Missing today were measures like an extension of the small business grant that would have provided immediate relief.

“Our concern is whether these measures will be sufficient to prevent a wave of business closures,” Rossi continued. “For example, applications for the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will not open until mid-January. This delay – along with the limited eligibility of the rebate to energy and property taxes – may not be enough for many small businesses to keep their doors open.” Governments launch new supports for businesses governments COVID-19

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