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: September 8, 2020

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Loans and Grants

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

The CEBA application deadline has been extended to October 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 new CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201

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 has been extended to 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.

Non-repayable grants of up to $25,000 are offered to Indigenous tourism businesses through the Indigenous Tourism Association of Canada (ITAC).

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

The Federal and provincial governments have launched the Canada Commercial Rent Assistance program to temporarily reduce rent for qualifying small business tenants.

CECRA offers forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to help reduce rent in April, May, June, July, August and September by at least 75% for qualifying small business tenants.

  • CECRA has been extended to the end of September

  • Previously approved applicants can opt in for the July, August and September extensions. New applicants will have the choice of applying for the three-month initial period, four months, five months or six months

  • CECRA includes a moratorium on commercial evictions during the months of April, May, June, July, August and September

  • Eligible businesses whose landlords choose not to apply for the federal CECRA program will be protected from evictions due to unpaid rent payments as determined by the federal program timelines


Wage Support

The Federal government has developed and enhanced programs to help employers avoid layoffs and rehire employees.

A wage subsidy is available to employers that are experiencing a decline in revenue until December 19, 2020.

  • 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

Changes to Taxes

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

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until September 30, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020.

  • Owners of small businesses and self-employed individuals may request a phone call from a CRA Liaison Officer to better understand their tax obligations with no tax consequences

Employer Health Tax (EHT):

The EHT return and final payment due date for the 2019 calendar year has been extended to September 30, 2020.

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 already exempt from the tax.

Tax filing and payment deadline extensions:

Many provincial tax filing and payment deadlines are deferred to September 30, 2020.

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, has 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

  • Late payment penalties for commercial properties (classes 4, 5, 6, 7 and 8) have been postponed to October 1, 2020


Bill Relief

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

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 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.

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.

  • For employers who report and pay on a quarterly basis, WorkSafeBC is allowing employers to defer payments for the first and second quarter without penalty or interest. Payments for the first and second quarters will not be due until October 20, 2020.

  • Premiums on wages paid to furloughed workers of employers receiving Canada Emergency Wage Subsidies will be waived. This change will be retroactive to March 15, 2020 and continue 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

Farm Credit Canada (FCC):

FCC is offering loan payment deferrals and other financing products.

B.C. Agri-Business Planning Program:

Agriculture, seafood, and food processing businesses in B.C. that have had their revenues decreased by at least 30% as a result of COVID-19 may be eligible for up to $5,000 in business planning services and coaching for individuals, and up to $20,000 for groups from a qualified business consultant, to develop an immediate and long-term recovery plan.

Fish Harvester Grant:

Fish harvesters that are ineligible for CEBA may be eligible for the Fish Harvester Grant, which provides non-repayable support of up to $10,000 to self-employed fish harvesters.

  • The application period is open from August 24, 2020 to September 21, 2020

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 marketplace.

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

  • Shopify has partnered with the Federal government to help small businesses bring their operations online with an extended 90-day trial to Shopify’s e-Commerce platform and access to a suite of resources to build an online store

  • Innovate BC and the BC Acceleration Network are expanding the Digital Economic Response (DER3) program across the province. The program helps businesses transition into the digital economy or expand their digital footprint

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.

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 October 31, 2020.

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


Supporting Self-Employed Individuals & 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.

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 CERB has been extended by four weeks for a total of 28 weeks

  • Pending legislation: The CERB will be transitioned to the Employment Insurance (EI) program on September 27, 2020. Proposed EI enhancements will allow Canadians with 120 hours of insurable work or more to qualify for EI. The federal government intends to introduce three new benefits for Canadians ineligible for EI:

    • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB): Provides $400 per week for up to 26 weeks to workers who are self-employed or not eligible for EI.

    • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): Provides $500 per week for up to 2 weeks to workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19

    • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB): Provides $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household to Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child, family member with a disability or a dependent due to reasons related 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 since March 1, 2020. B.C. residents who receive federal Employment Insurance, or the new federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit are eligible.

The Fish Harvester Benefit provides income support to self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons crew who cannot access the CEWS, and who have experienced fishing income declines of greater than 25% in the 2020 tax year. The benefit covers 75% of fishing income losses beyond a 25% income decline threshold, up to a maximum individual entitlement of $847 per week for up to 12 weeks.

  • The application period is open from August 24, 2020 to September 21, 2020