The province has introduced new supports designed to alleviate the financial burden put on small businesses that have been forced to close under the most recent COVID-related restrictions.
On Jan. 7, the province announced $10,000 for eligible businesses, while also announcing temporarily reduced electricity rates, which will apply to both businesses and homeowners.
Among the eligible businesses that qualify to receive the $10,000 COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant are restaurants and bars, performing arts venues and cinemas, meeting or event spaces, tour and guide services, and conference and convention centres.
The province said businesses can expect to receive their payments in February.
The government is also temporarily reducing the cost of electricity to the off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, effective Tuesday, Jan. 18.
That reduced rate will be in effect for 21 days, while the province remains under the modified Step Two of its reopening plan, which was put into place on Jan. 3.
The province has further announced that it will start to take submissions to the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program starting on Jan. 18.
Announced in December, the program will provide eligible businesses that are required to close with rebates toward property tax and energy costs incurred while subject to public health measures.
Finally, the province said it would provide up to $7.5 billion through a six-month period — free of interest and penalties — starting on Jan. 1, for Ontario businesses to make payments for most provincially administered taxes. The effort aims to give businesses flexibility in long-term planning.
The government said it’s calling on its federal counterpart to allow small businesses impacted by public health restrictions to defer their HST remittances for a period of six months.
Rocco Rossi, the president and CEO at the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, welcomed the new supports, but said some businesses would still be left ineligible.
"On the one hand, the grant is too narrow as it only applies to businesses that were required to fully close. It misses those that are at limited capacity or those losing revenue as a result of restrictions affecting their clients (such as food service suppliers)," Rossi said in a Jan. 7 statement.
"On the other hand, the electricity subsidy is too broad as it will largely benefit ratepayers that are not impacted by current restrictions.
Rossi then reiterated his statement from earlier in the week that "we need a comprehensive plan that ties restrictions to clear, data-based metrics so that employers, workers, and families can plan ahead.”