COVID-19 Resources for Small Businesses

Written by Julia, staff member, Central Library
Last updated Friday, May 29 

During this time of uncertainty, our Small Business team is thinking of you. We have gathered a few resources available for small businesses to help you stay informed and seek support.

1. Federal

Expanding and new programs for businesses

  • Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan 
    Support for individuals, businesses

  • Business Resilience Service, opens a new window  

    The Business Resilience Service (BRS) allows you to connect with experienced business advisors from across Canada for guidance. Find out which government relief programs will be most appropriate to support your small- to medium-sized business, not-for-profit, or charity. You can also learn of ways to respond and reshape amid uncertainty.

    The BRS is run through the Canadian Chamber’s Canadian Business Resilience Network in collaboration with EY, opens a new window and with support from Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada (CPA Canada, opens a new window), and Imagine Canada, opens a new window. The program, coordinated by EY, will be provided for four weeks from Monday, May 25, and involves support from approximately 125 business advisors from across the accounting profession for free. To access the BRS call 1-866-989-1080 to connect with a business advisor from the accounting profession. The service is available 7 days/week from 8:00 AM - 8:00 PM ET.

  • Small Business Relief Fund, opens a new window
    Small Business Relief Fund is a part of the Canadian Business Resilience Network. It will provide 62 grants, each worth $10,000, to Canadian businesses belonging to a Chamber of Commerce to help their recovery efforts during these unprecedented times. These grants from the Canadian Chamber of Commerce are made possible through the generosity of Salesforce (NYSE:CRM), opens a new window. Apply now, applications close on June 12.

-New: Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), opens a new window
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This fund may work for many businesses that did not qualify for other Federal programs. It recognizes that some business owners and support organizations have not been able to access other federal emergency support measures and that is why they have created the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). The RRRF will help businesses and organizations continue their operations, including paying their employees, and support projects by businesses, organizations and communities to prepare now for a successful recovery. You can apply here. A portion will be delivered by ACOA and a portion will be delivered in more rural areas by the Atlantic Association of CBDCs.

-Support for managing your business during COVID-19 outbreak
Contact: Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) - 1-800-561-7862. "For more information on additional government support available to your business and workers, please contact Service Canada at 1-800-OCanada (1-800-622-6232). If you are unable to connect with your account manager, please send an email to following address: ACOA.information.APECA@canada.ca. Rest assured that an ACOA official will connect with you to address your enquiry within 48 hours."

Federal government announces rent assistance program details

The Government of Canada has announced that the federal government has reached an agreement in principle with all provinces and territories to implement the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. This program will lower rent by 75% for small businesses that have been affected by COVID-19.

The program will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50% of three monthly rent payments that are payable by eligible small business tenants who are experiencing financial hardship during April, May, and June.

The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants’ rent by at least 75% for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a term not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25% of the rent.

Impacted small business tenants are businesses paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations or have experienced at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. This support will also be available to non-profit and charitable organizations.

2. Provincial

  • Small Business Reopening and Support Grant
    Eligible Businesses, non-profits, charities, social enterprises will be able to access the new Small Business Reopening and Support Grant, a $25 million fund that will provide $5,000 grants to help them open safely and $1,500 business continuity voucher for advice and support to become more resilient in the coming months. If you previously applied for the Small Business Impact Grant, you do not need to reapply. This program will be for businesses ordered closed and will also be for small retailers and others who were not ordered to close. More information is available online here, opens a new window  and applications begin June 1.
  • Reopening toolkits
    The Halifax Chamber recently released its 5-step plan to help businesses reopen safely. Read the full plan and find more resources here, opens a new window.
    The province has also released a plan on how to operate in the time of COVID-19. Read the full prevention plan here, opens a new window.

Provincial Government adds Nova Scotia Credit Support Program

The province announced the COVID-19 Small Business Credit and Support Program as a temporary stream for access to credit, cash grants and support delivered from Chamber affinity partner CUA and participating credit unions. The program will be available starting Wednesday, April 29. The program will provide eligible applicants a maximum loan amount of $25,000 and upon approval businesses will receive a grant of up to $1,500. There will also be a business continuity voucher of up to $1,500 to help hire a private consultant for advice. Loans may be granted for a term of up to 10 years and lines of credit for up to seven years with an interest rate of prime + 3.35%.

To be eligible, small businesses must have a payroll less than $20,000 in the previous fiscal year and have experienced a decline in revenue from sales of at least 15 per cent in March or at least 30 per cent in April, May or June. The Halifax Chamber believes this should assist sole-proprietors or small business owners that receive dividends as income. The program will be available until June 30.

Quick Facts:

  • Maximum loan amount is $25,000
  • Upon approval, businesses will receive a grant up to $1,500, as well as a COVID-19 Business Continuity Voucher of up to $1,500, to help hire a private consultant for advice and support in adapting or recovering from the impacts of COVID-19. The Voucher Program will be open until May 29, 2020 and all projects funded under the Voucher Program must be completed by July 3, 2020.
  • Must not have applied or received a loan through CEBA
  • Must be a sole proprietorship, partnership, corporation, co-operative, society, social enterprise, not for profit, charity in business, and other similar organizations.

3. Municipal

  • CEED, opens a new window and ACOA
    If you did not qualify for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) because your business did not have salaries between $20,000 and $1.5 million, you could apply for the programs now available from ACOA or CEED. The CEED program titled the Urban Main Street Loan Initiative is much like the CEBA and is available for “Main Street Businesses” who did not qualify for the CEBA. This loan is to be used to finance the everyday operations of a business such as sales and marketing, product development, wages and other activities for businesses such as retail shops, restaurants, corner stores, etc., and businesses of strategic importance to the community. This program will provide up to $40,000 and will have a forgivable portion of up to $10,000 and is available to businesses in the greater Halifax area.

- Reopening Business in Halifax Toolkit
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A five-step approach to operate business safely amidst COVID-19.

-Free tools and advice
Free webinars, advice on supporting local. Additionally, their new podcast, ChamberChats will focus on COVID-19 and the economic impact we’re facing, along with available resources and tales of resiliency. 

  • Virtual Entrepreneurs Network - Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre
    Online network of entrepreneurs and industry experts to help other concerned/struggling entrepreneurs through COVID-19.
  • Halifax Partnership
    If you are a business owner or know of one who could benefit from help navigating COVID-19 funding programs and resources, Halifax Partnership is here to help you. Contact jguidry@halifaxpartnership.com to speak one on one with a member of their team.
  • Halifax Partnership’s COVID-19 Program Assessment Tool
    Halifax Partnership has created a quick and easy-to-use Program Assessment Tool that helps you determine which funding and support programs you are eligible for, and gives guidance on how to access them. Note: You may apply for multiple federal, provincial, and municipal support programs, so don’t miss out on finding the right supports to meet your need.

Need more information?

If you have more questions you can reach the COVID-19 information line toll-free at 1-833-784-4397.

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