COVID-19 Supports for Businesses

The Provincial and Federal government along with the private sector are providing a wide-range of supports for businesses in British Columbia affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This list of supports may not be comprehensive and is subject to change. Please contact support providers directly for eligibility and application details. Download a printable PDF of these resources.

B.C.'s Restart Plan lays out a series of steps that businesses can take to safely operate and reduce COVID-19 transmission. Employer guidelines, best practices and other resources are available from WorkSafeBC.

Last updated: May 21, 2020

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Credit & Financing Options

Speak to Your Lender

Financial institutions and credit unions are committed to working with small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible financing solutions such as:

  • Payment deferrals, reduced interest rates on credit cards and temporary limit increases
  • Interest-free loans of up to $40,000 through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA). The CEBA includes a loan forgiveness amount of 25%, up to $10,000, if repaid on or before December 31, 2022
    • On May 19, the Federal government expanded eligibility for CEBA 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
  • Term loans of up to $6.25 million through the Business Credit Availability Program’s co-lending and guaranteed loan options
  • Loans of up to $60 million, and guarantees of up to $80 million, to mid-sized companies with larger financing needs through the Business Credit Availability Program

Additional Credit & Financing Options

  • Small and medium size businesses in rural communities that are not eligible for CEBA or BCAP may be eligible for financial support through their local Community Futures office
    • Community Futures offers interest-free loans of up to $40,000, with a loan forgiveness amount up to $10,000 if repaid on or before December 31, 2022
  • Businesses not eligible for CEBA or BCAP may be eligible for financial support through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).
    • Interest-free loans of up to $40,000, with a loan forgiveness amount up to $10,000 if repaid on or before December 31, 2022
    • Interest-free loans of up to $1 million, with no scheduled monthly repayments required until after December 31, 2022
    • Applications are assessed as they are received, with funding subject to availability
  • Indigenous businesses can also contact Aboriginal Financial Institutions which offer short-term, interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions
  • Farm Credit Canada (FCC) is offering loan payment deferrals and other financing products to the agriculture and food industry
  • Canada's largest employers may be eligible for financial support through the Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

Rent Support

Provincial and federal rent support is available to eligible small businesses.

  • Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to help reduce rent in April, May, and June by at least 75% for qualifying small business tenants.
    • CECRA includes a moratorium on commercial evictions during the months of April, May, and June
    • Applications for CECRA will open May 25

Wage Support

A 75% Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy is available to qualifying businesses, for up to 3 months, retroactive to March 15, 2020.

  • This helps businesses keep and return workers to the payroll
  • Organizations that do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy may qualify for the previously announced wage subsidy of 10% of remuneration paid from March 18, 2020 to before June 20, 2020

Temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program will help employers hire summer staff and provide young Canadians access to the jobs they need during COVID-19.

  • Changes include an increase to the wage subsidy and an extension to the end date for employment

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

Changes to Taxes

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

  • The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020
  • Effective immediately, many provincial tax filing and payment deadlines are deferred to September 30, 2020
  • 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
    • Late payment penalties for commercial properties (classes 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) have been postponed to October 1, 2020

Other Supports & Resources Available to Businesses

  • Through the Premier's Economic Recovery Task Force, the B.C. government is working with representatives from the business community, labour, First Nations, and the non-profit sector to look at the economic impacts of COVID-19 and work towards a strong recovery for B.C.
  • BC Hydro is providing residential and commercial customers the option to defer bill payments or arrange flexible payment plans with no penalty for up to three months
  • FortisBC’s customer Recovery Fund is supporting residential customers and small businesses impacted by COVID-19 with bill deferrals, interest free repayment schedules and bill credit
  • 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
  • Small Business BC is offering a free webinar, Get Online with Shopify, for businesses to learn how to build an online presence and engage with customers and continue to grow your business
  • WorkSafeBC is postponing the reporting and payment deadlines to June 30, 2020 for employers who report and pay on a quarterly basis. Employers who report and pay on an annual basis may defer until March 2021
  • Direct, one-on-one service delivery programs to help the tourism sector and other enterprises with rapid recovery have been developed in collaboration with Island Coastal Economic Trust, Tourism Vancouver Island and Innovation Island Technology Association
  • The Columbia Basin Trust will provide low-interest loans through the new Small Business Working Capital Loan program to local small businesses in the Columbia Basin to help them meet their immediate needs. They will also increase support to existing programs
  • Small businesses operating in rural communities may also check with their local Community Futures office for emergency loans and business advice

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:

Qualifying B.C. farmers, and food and beverage processors of all sizes can apply for up to $5,000 to support their Buy BC e-commerce activities. The program provides financial support to access and develop websites that accommodate online sales and helps cover the costs of marketing and shipping products to consumers throughout the province. Online applications are accepted on a first-come, first-served basis, from May 15 to May 29.

Businesses are asked to contact the Province of B.C. or the Government of Canada if they can supply products and services, or rapidly scale up production or re-tool their manufacturing lines to develop products, that that will help in the fight against COVID-19.

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.

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

The B.C. government is providing $55,000 to the BC Association of Farmers’ Markets to help member markets move to an online model to continue providing consumers with locally grown and prepared food products.


Supporting Individuals

British Columbians 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. 

Through the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB), the Federal government will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to four months to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19.

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. B.C. residents who receive federal Employment Insurance, or the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit are eligible.

  • The Canada Emergency Student Benefit will provide students and new graduates who are not eligible for the CERB $1,250 a month or $1,750 a month for eligible students with dependants or disabilities from May to August 2020.
  • The Federal government is placing a six-month interest-free moratorium on the repayment of Canada Student Loans.
  • The B.C. government has frozen B.C. student loan payments for six months.
  • Students attending B.C.’s 25 public post-secondary institutions, who are experiencing emergency financial pressures, will benefit from a one-time investment of $3.5 million in emergency financial assistance.
  • The Federal government has enhanced the Canada Child Benefit (CCB) with a maximum annual payment amount increased by up to $300 per child as part of their May payment.
  • In July 2020, eligible families will receive up to $564 and eligible individuals will receive up to $218 through an enhanced Climate Action Credit payment.