COVID-19 supports for businesses

A wide-range of supports are available to businesses in British Columbia affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

This compiled list of supports may not be comprehensive and is subject to change. Please contact support providers directly for eligibility and application details.

Last updated: November 24, 2020

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Loans and grants

Loans, grants and flexible financing solutions are available to businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applications are open.

The Small and Medium-Sized Business Recovery Grant provides grants of $10,000 to $30,000 to support B.C. businesses that employ between two and 149 B.C. residents and have experienced declines in revenue since March 10, 2020.

  • An additional $5,000 to $10,000 grant is available to eligible tourism-related businesses

  • The program runs until March 31, 2021 or until funding is fully allocated, whichever comes first

CEBA is now also available to businesses operating out of a non-business bank account. The CEBA application deadline has been extended to December 31, 2020.

Provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to eligible small businesses and not-for profits.

  • Includes a loan forgiveness amount of 25%, up to $10,000, if repaid on or before December 31, 2022

  • Eligibility for CEBA has expanded to allow more small businesses to qualify, including sole-proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll

  • Contact your bank or credit union to learn more

  • If you applied for CEBA and have questions, please contact the CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201

Pending implementation: The federal government will offer an interest-free loan of up to $20,000 in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000.

  • Half of this additional financing will be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022

  • This expansion will be available to all eligible previous and new CEBA applicants

  • More information will be available soon

Provides loans to businesses impacted by COVID-19 and are, in some cases, not eligible for federal funding programs.

  • Applications are assessed as they are received, with funding subject to availability.

  • Four loan options are available to qualifying businesses:

    • Businesses within the Community Futures network: Interest-free loans of up to $40,000, with up to $10,000 forgivable if repaid before December 31, 2022, to small and medium sized businesses in rural communities. Sole proprietorships, partnerships, corporations, social enterprises and similar organizations may qualify.

    • Businesses outside the Community Futures network: Interest-free loans of up to $40,000, with up to $10,000 forgivable if repaid before December 31, 2020. Sole proprietorships and not-for-profits are not eligible

    • Women-run businesses: Interest-free loans of up to $40,000, with up to $10,000 forgivable if repaid before December 31, 2020. Sole proprietorships, partnerships and corporations are eligible

    • Funding requests over $40,000Interest-free loans of up to $1 million, with no scheduled monthly repayments required until after December 31, 2022

BCAP is available until June 2021.

Helps businesses in all sectors and regions obtain financing during the COVID-19 pandemic. These programs are available at banks and credit unions.

Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises:

Provides loans to small and medium enterprises co-lent from the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and the Federal government.

  • Loan amounts vary based on business revenues

  • Eligibility has been extended to all legal businesses, including cannabis businesses and those in the hospitality sector operating bars and lounges

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises:

Provides new credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium enterprises from Export Development Canada (EDC).

  • Support is available to both exporting and non-exporting companies

BDC's Mid-Market Financing Program:

Provides commercial loans from $12.5 million to $60 million to medium-sized businesses whose credit needs exceed what is already available through the BCAP and other measures.

  • BDC anticipates that qualifying companies will have annual revenues exceeding about $100 million

EDC's Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program:

Provides new operating credit and cash-flow loans from $16.75 million to $80 million to companies with revenues of between $50 million to $300 million.

  • Includes a 75% guarantee from EDC guarantee

  • Expanded guarantees are available to exporters, international investors and businesses that sell their products or services within Canada

  • More details will be made available soon

  • Through the Unity Women Entrepreneurs Program, Vancity is offering loans of up to $150,000 to women entrepreneurs who have been in business for more than two years. The program also provides support services from the Women’s Enterprise Centre, including online education and resources on financial management, and preferred entry into the Women Enterprise Centre’s Mentoring Program.

  • Through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, women-run businesses that are ineligible for other government COVID-19 funding could qualify for interest-free loans of up to $40,000, with up to $10,000 forgivable if repaid before December 31, 2022.

Interest-free loans of up to $30,000, including a non-repayable contribution of an additional $10,000 are offered through Aboriginal Financial Institutions to support small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses.

Through the Indigenous Community Business Fund, First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities and collectives can apply on behalf of businesses for non-repayable contributions to cover specific business costs. For more information and to apply, visit the Federal government’s Indigenous Community Business Fund website

Provides bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers in order to keep their operations going during the pandemic.  For eligibility details and to apply, visit the Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation’s website.

Banks and credit unions are working with small business banking customers to provide flexible financing solutions such as:

  • Payment deferrals

  • Reduced interest rates on credit cards

  • Temporary limit increases


Rent support

Governments have developed programs to temporarily reduce rent for qualifying small business tenants.

Applications are now open.

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) provides a rent subsidy directly to qualifying organizations that have experienced a decline in revenue until June 2021.

  • Until December 19, 2020, a rent subsidy of up to a maximum of 65% of eligible expenses is available

  • Organizations may make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ended October 24, 2020

  • Organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order may be eligible for the Lockdown Support, which provides a top-up rent subsidy of 25%, in addition to the 65% subsidy

Eligible holders of Land Act tenures and Park Act permits that are commercial recreation operators may qualify to have the base rent they pay to the government waived for one year.


Wage support

Governments have developed and enhanced programs to help employers avoid layoffs and rehire employees.

CEWS has been further extended to June 2021. The current subsidy rate of up to 65% of employee wages will remain until December 19, 2020.

A wage subsidy is available to employers that are experiencing a decline in revenue until June 2021.

  • This helps businesses keep and return workers to the payroll

  • The subsidy amount varies depending on the scale of revenue decline

  • A top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25% is available to employers most adversely affected by COVID-19

The EI work sharing program provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hour as a result of developments beyond the control of their employers

  • Eligibility of these agreements has been extended to 76 weeks, eligibility requirements have been eased, and the application process has been streamlined

The B.C. Increased Employment Incentive offers a refundable tax credit for all private sector B.C. employers to encourage the creation of new jobs for B.C. workers or increased payroll for existing low or medium-income employees.

  • The tax credit is calculated at 15% of the amount that the employer's qualifying B.C. remuneration exceeds the employer's base B.C. remuneration

  • Remuneration increases over the last quarter of 2020 (October to December) are eligible

  • Applications open online starting March 2021


Changes to taxes

Some federal and provincial taxes have been deferred, delayed or reduced.

B.C. PST Rebate on Select Machinery and Equipment:

Through the B.C. PST Rebate on Select Machinery and Equipment, corporations can apply to receive an amount equal to the PST they paid between September 17, 2020 and September 30, 2021 on qualifying machinery and equipment.

  • Applications open online starting April 1, 2021

Employer Health Tax (EHT):

Employers required to make quarterly instalment payments for the 2020 calendar year will be able to defer these payments as follows:

  • June 15, 2020 deadline extended to December 31, 2020

  • September 15, 2020 deadline extended to January 31, 2021

  • December 15, 2020 deadline extended to February 28, 2021

The remaining tax payable is due with the EHT return by March 31, 2021. Businesses with a payroll under $500,000 are exempt from the tax.

Planned tax changes:

The scheduled April 1, 2020 increase to the provincial carbon tax, as well as the new PST registration requirements on e-commerce and the implementation of PST on sweetened carbonated drinks, have been delayed until April 2021.

B.C. relief is available for Commercial Property Owners and Tenants

  • The school property tax rate for commercial properties will be reduced to achieve a commercial property tax bill reduction of 25% on average, providing up to $700 million in relief

  • This enhances the 50% reduction to the provincial school property tax rate originally announced for classes 4, 5 and 6


Bill relief

Service providers are offering businesses flexible payment plans and other supports.

BC Hydro is providing residential and commercial customers the option to arrange flexible payment plans.

FortisBC is offering bill deferrals and interest free repayment schedules to impacted business clients.

 

ICBC customers on a monthly Autoplan payment plan, who are facing financial challenges due to COVID-19, can defer their payment for up to 90 days with no penalty.


Other resources

Additional support is available to businesses from governments and the private sector.

StrongerBC focuses on making health care stronger, getting people back to work, supporting businesses and helping communities.

  • Introduces new supports to help businesses in B.C. reopen, adapt, hire, rehire and grow

  • Supports include a new Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant, a 15% Increased Employment Incentive tax credit, a 100% PST rebate to buy select machines and equipment, fast-track skills training programs and more

  • Premiums on wages paid to furloughed workers of employers receiving Canada Emergency Wage Subsidies are waived. This change is retroactive to March 15, 2020 and continues for the duration of the CEWS program

Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program:

The Federal government is providing $50 million to help farmers, fish harvesters, and all food production and processing employers put in place the measures necessary to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required for everyone arriving from abroad.

  • Employers will receive $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker to ensure that mandatory 14-day isolation period requirements are fully met

  • The program has been extended until November 20, 2020

Emergency On-Farm Support Fund:

Eligible Canadian agricultural producers that produce agricultural products for resale and employ farm workers, either domestic and/or Temporary Foreign Workers, may access up to $100,000 in funding from the Emergency On-Farm Support Fund.

  • Funding may be used to support measures to safeguard the health and safety of farm workers

  • Sole proprietors, partnerships, corporations/cooperatives/communal organizations, trusts and band farms are eligible

Farm Credit Canada (FCC):

FCC is offering loan payment deferrals and other financing products.

More information on supports for agriculture and agri-food businesses is available from the Ministry of Agriculture.

From July 2020 until March 31, 2021, liquor licensees can purchase beer, wine and spirits at reduced cost under a temporary wholesale pricing model.


Pivoting your business operations

Small Business BC provides practical ideas and inspiration to help you manage your business through this uniquely challenging time. More opportunities to pivot your business operations include:

The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Marketplace connects businesses with suppliers of non-medical safety equipment.  PPE suppliers interested in being listed as a vendor in the non-medical PPE Marketplace can submit a request to be part of the digital marketplace directory.

Registration is now open.

The Alacrity Digital Marketing Bootcamp provides digital marketing knowledge, tools and resources to help businesses grow.

  • Small to medium-sized businesses based in and registered in BC that have been directly impacted by COVID-19 may be eligible to have their tuition covered

Support is available to help businesses improve their digital marketing capabilities and sell their products online to a wider audience of customers.

  • Innovate BC and the BC Acceleration Network have expanded the Digital Economic Response (DER3) program to six regions in the province. The program helps businesses transition into the digital economy or expand their digital footprint. Businesses with less than 500 employees and are located within one of these regions in British Columbia are encouraged to apply:

    • Greater Victoria

    • Central Island, Northern Island, Sunshine Coast & Gulf Islands

    • Okanagan Valley

    • Kootenays

    • Central Interior B.C.

    • North Central B.C.

  • The Burnaby Board of Trade is providing small businesses with direct, hands-on support to build, optimize and enhance their digital business activities at no cost through the Digital Development Assistance Program.

The CanExport SMEs program is pivoting to now help small businesses develop and expand their e-commerce presence, attend virtual trade shows and other business-to-business events, and navigate new COVID-19-related trade barriers.

  • Small businesses are encouraged to apply for up to $75,000 in funding to break into new international markets

Spring Activator is offering free online courses, support calls and other business resiliency resources to entrepreneurs in select communities across B.C.

Eligible organizations can request to purchase supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) and cleaning and disinfectant products from the B.C. government. Donations of priority products are also invited.

Participate in “buy local” and business support campaigns such as the Small Business BC Marketplace. Contact local business organizations such as your Chamber of Commerce for more information.

Food-primary, liquor-primary and manufacturer licensees such as wineries, breweries and distilleries may apply through a simplified online process to temporarily expand their service areas until October 31, 2021.

Licensed restaurants are now temporarily allowed to use servers with a Serving it Right certificate to deliver liquor products alongside the purchase of a meal until March 31, 2021.

Distillers in British Columbia are temporarily authorized to manufacture alcohol-based hand sanitizer to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic.


Supporting self-employed individuals and workers

Self-employed individuals and workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic can rely on income supports, tax relief and direct funding. Read the full list of federal and provincial financial benefits to determine your eligibility.

Canadians not eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) may be eligible for the following new benefits:

Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB):

  • Applications are open

  • Provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for workers who have stopped working or had their income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19, and who are not eligible for EI

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB):

  • Applications are open

  • Provides $500 per week for up to a maximum of two weeks for workers who are unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they contracted COVID-19, are sick or are self-isolating for reasons related to COVID-19

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB):

  • Applications are open

  • Provides $500 per week for up to a maximum of 26 weeks per household for workers unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they must care for a child or family member for reasons related to COVID-19

Applications close December 2, 2020.

The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers provides a one-time $1,000 payment to people whose ability to work has been affected due to COVID-19 since March 1, 2020. B.C. residents who receive federal Employment Insurance, or the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit are eligible.