The province has announced small businesses may qualify for up to $20,000 to help them stay afloat following the announcement of a provincial shutdown, starting on Boxing Day.
On Dec. 21, Premier Doug Ford announced a 14-day shutdown for Northern Ontario and a 28-day shutdown for southern Ontario, effective 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26.
The new measures come in response to quickly growing numbers of COVID-19 cases, which the province fears could overwhelm hospitals, impacting their ability to care for critically ill patients.
Under the new restrictions, in-person shopping at most retail establishments is limited to curbside delivery and pickup. Shops offering essential services – grocery stores, pharmacies – can remain open, although at 50 per cent capacity.
Restaurants and bars are restricted to takeout, drive-through or delivery only.
To help small businesses forced by the shutdown to close or restrict their services, the province has announced the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small-business owners to help see them through the lockdown.
There are no restrictions on how the one-time grant can be spent.
"Ontario's business owners have shown remarkable resolve and ingenuity throughout the pandemic. They know better than anyone what they need to come through this very difficult time, so they can continue to serve and employ people in their communities," Finance Minister Rod Phillips said in a release.
"The new Ontario Small Business Support Grant will provide significant financial support to eligible small business owners in addition to the other supports made available to our small business community."
Eligible small businesses include those that:
- are required to close or significantly restrict services subject to the provincewide shutdown effective 12:01 a.m. on Dec. 26, 2020;
- have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level; and
- have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.
The province said that eligible businesses impacted by the shutdown would also qualify for the property tax and energy cost rebates.