LAST UPDATED: Thursday May 28th, 2020
Special Note #1: Ontario Extending Emergency Orders (Until June 9th). Click here for more.
Special Note #2: CECRA applications are now open. Click here for more.
Current Press Updates From Your Government:
For the latest, up to date press releases from:
Prime Minister of Canada, please click here.
Ontario Government, please click here
City of Toronto, please click here.
This Page: Below is a collection of information and resources business owners/managers/staff members should find helpful.
Please note, as this page continues to grow, new items will be added at the top of the list.
- NEW Weekly Webinars for Toronto Businesses
- NEW Checklist & Guide of Best Reopening Practices For Restaurants
- NEW Ritual and City of Toronto Partner to provide FREE ordering tool for local restaurants and foodservice businesses, (if they sign up before June 1st)
- NEW Ontario: Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace (by sector)
- Extending eligibility for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy
- Additional Workplaces That Can Reopen
- Relief and Recovery Fund – (Funding to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are unable to access the government’s existing support measures)
- Requesting A Temporary Parking Pick-up Zone and/or a Curb Lane Pedestrian ZoneRegional
- ShopHERE: ShopHERE giving Toronto’s independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store.
- Social Distancing Signage for businesses
- Front Door Signage for businesses
- Staff Screening Sheet
- Who can help me with government funding applications and general business advice?
- Where can I learn about the emergency benefit or the wage subsidy?
- What is the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)?
- Rent relief for small businesses (CECRA)
- Can my restaurant deliver alcohol?
- What is Digital Main Street and how can its services help my business?
- Who can I call with questions?
- Who can promote my restaurant takeout/delivery service for free? (3 options.)
- and more…
NEW Weekly Webinars for Toronto Businesses
These repeat weekly. You can attend more than once.
1) Ask-An-Accountant – Applying for Government COVID-19 Funding Programs
2) Business AdviceTO Female Founders with SheEO
3) Business AdviceTO Retail with Retail Advantage
4) Business AdviceTO Tech with TechTO
Sign-up for future weekly Online Events & Webinars using the link below. (Scroll to the drop down labelled Online Events & Webinars once the page loads.)
NEW Checklist & Guide of Best Reopening Practices For Restaurants
While we are currently awaiting official Provincial guidelines, The Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association (ORHMA), in partnership with stakeholders, has developed a guide with best practices for safe and successful restaurant reopening on their DineSafe.ca website.
Please Visit: https://dinesafe.ca/
NEW Ritual and City of Toronto Partner to provide FREE ordering tool for local restaurants and foodservice businesses, (if they sign up before June 1st)
The tool, called Ritual ONE, provides foodservice businesses, including restaurants, grocers, butchers, and bakeries with a way to accept digital orders from their own website and social media accounts. Ritual ONE offers businesses the option for takeout or delivery, contactless ordering, and an automated loyalty program. The startup typically offers the ordering tool at a cost…. click here to continue reading.
NEW Ontario: Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace (by sector)
Ontario is releasing safety guidelines to protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 as it prepares for a gradual reopening of the provincial economy.
These resources are available for different sectors. They will help employers and workers better understand how to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Sector guidelines contain recommendations and tips for employers on how to keep workers safe on the job. Posters for both employers and workers also offer advice on preventative actions, including physical distancing and workplace sanitation. Employers are encouraged to download the posters to print and post in the workplace.
As new sectors of the economy begin to reopen, additional COVID-19 workplace safety resources will be added.
Extending eligibility for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (Plus Proposed Changes)
Finance Minister Bill Morneau has announced that the Government of Canada will extend the CEWS, Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, by an additional 12 weeks to August 29, 2020. Extending the program will give workers greater confidence that they will continue to get the support they need during these difficult times. For full details, including information regarding proposed legislative changes, (such as support for seasonal employees) please click here.
Additional Workplaces That Can Reopen
Ontario Announces Additional Workplaces that Can Reopen – Additional seasonal, retail and household businesses must follow public health guidelines… click here for the press release with planned dates, stipulations and more information.
Relief and Recovery Fund – (Funding to small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that are unable to access the government’s existing support measures)
The Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario) is now accepting applications under the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF).
Regional Economy Funding Stream: This stream provides support to southern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been declined for, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures. Please visit the FedDev Ontario website for more information or to apply.
For full eligibility criteria and additional information, please visit FedDev Ontario’s RRRF page.
Requesting A Temporary Parking Pick-up Zone and/or a Curb Lane Pedestrian Zone
The City of Toronto’s CurbTO program offers businesses like grocery stores, pharmacies, restaurants and community agencies the opportunity to request a temporary parking pick-up zone and/or a curb lane pedestrian zone for their business/community agency.
For tracking purposes, please email firstname.lastname@example.org to alert the BIA of your interest in this program. Then complete your application clicking here.
ShopHERE: ShopHERE giving Toronto’s independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store.
ShopHERE provides Toronto’s independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store, which will be built and launched for free in just a matter of days. Hands-on support will be provided throughout the entire process from volunteer website developers and marketing and business students.
The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted the importance of having an online presence to sell goods and services. This is amplified that much more with the curbside pick up approach in the first stage of opening Ontario’s retail businesses.
What do businesses and artists get as part of ShopHERE?
- Their choice of a template online Shopify store customized with their information, branding, logo, etc.
- Hands-on assistance setting up and launching their online store.
- Training and support covering digital marketing, shipping and operating their online store.
- Access to free tools and various credits (from over 10 partners) to help support the launch of their online stores.
The ShopHERE program is open to any businesses or artist that meets the following requirements:
- Pays commercial property taxes in the City of Toronto
- Have fewer than 10 employees, or fewer than 25 if they are a café, restaurant, or bar
- Not be a corporate chain or franchise
- OR must be an artist located within the City of Toronto.
To sign up for this exciting program and receive a free online store you can fill out the application form here: https://digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere/
If you have any questions, reach out to Digital Main Street at email@example.com.
Social Distancing Signage for businesses
DOWNLOAD: Line Up Signage: Click here for signage for encouraging social distancing in lines.
Front Door Signage for businesses
DOWNLOAD: Front Door Signage: Click here for signage you can use on your front door.
Staff Screening Sheet
DOWNLOAD: Click here to download a screening checklist created by Toronto Health for your employees they can complete at the start of every shift.
Who can help me with government funding applications and general business advice?
The City of Toronto has launched the BusinessTO Support Centre to provide businesses with one-on-one support with applications for government support resources/funding programs & general business advice. Learn more by clicking here.
How is Ontario planning to reopen?
The Ontario government has released A Framework for Reopening the Province, which outlines the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and health experts will use to advise the government on the loosening of emergency measures, as well as guiding principles for the safe, gradual reopening of businesses, services and public spaces. This “is a roadmap, not a calendar.” – Premier Doug Ford.
Where can I learn about the emergency benefit or the wage subsidy?
For Employers: Click here to read about The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS), 75% wage
subsidy. Please note this program has been extended… For full details, including information regarding proposed legislative changes, (such as support for seasonal employees) please click here.
For Employees: Click here to read about The Canada Emergency Relief Benefit (CERB), $2k benefit
for impacted employees.
What is the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)?
To ensure that small businesses have access to the capital they need to see them through the current challenges, the Government of Canada has launched the new Canada Emergency Business Account, which has been implemented by eligible financial institutions in cooperation with Export Development Canada (EDC).
This $25 billion program provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits, to help cover their operating costs… click here to continue reading.
NEW UPDATE: May 19, 2020, The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses. This extended measure will help small businesses protect the jobs that Canadians rely on. Click here to continue reading and to learn criteria.
Rent relief for small businesses (CECRA)
On Friday April 24th, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced rent relief for small businesses that can’t afford to pay their landlords at a time when their operations are shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments payable by eligible small business tenants 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 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a pledge not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. To continue reading click here to jump to our source.
Note: While the above and below linked sources state that this would be available to landlords with mortgages, we are told the federal government has confirmed that this will be available to all landlords, regardless of whether or not they currently have a mortgage. We await official public confirmation.
More details: Official news release can be found by clicking here.
Is a small business owner eligible for the $2,000 temporary wage subsidy?
The following is from a Video Tax News, provided by a tax advisor and shared with us by John Kiru of TABIA (Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas).
In order to be eligible, the employer must meet three criteria:*
1. *employ one or more individuals in Canada (“eligible employees”);*
2. *was registered, with a business number and a payroll remittance
account, on March 18, 2020; *
3. *and be any of the following:*
1. *most Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPCs), based
on eligibility for the small business deduction (see below);*
2. *an individual (other than a trust);*
3. *a partnership, all members of which are entities described in
(i), (ii), (iii) or (v) (it is not clear why (iv) is excluded);*
4. *a non-profit organization (exempt from income tax pursuant to
Subsection 149(1)(l)); or*
5. *a registered charity.*
Recap – It appears any small business person who had one or more employees, beyond themselves, and who operated their business properly/legally, and was registered, is eligible for the temporary wage subsidy.
Where can I find answers to my payroll questions?
Canadian Payroll Association FAQ: a listing of frequently asked
questions and answers from employers regarding employee payroll during
the COVID-19 pandemic.
Can my restaurant deliver alcohol?
If you have a liquor license, and do food delivery, you will most likely be permitted to deliver liquor as part of any food order. Before beginning, please carefully and thoroughly review the announcement and all requirements from the AGCO, to ensure you qualify and are in compliance. You can view the anncoument here: www.agco.ca/bulletin/2020/info-bulletin-no-61-liquor-sales-licensees-may-now-sell-liquor-takeout-or-delivery
What is Digital Main Street and how can its services help my business?
Digital Main Street is a program created and run by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Area’s (TABIA) that helps main street businesses achieve digital transformation. The program is built around an online learning platform, structured training programs and a digital service squad, a team of street-level team members who help main street businesses grow and manage their operations through technology.
FREE Digital Workshops & Webinars – A range of workshops and webinars are available to you through DMS and are typically 1.5-2.5 hours in length. See a just a few titles below and visit digitalmainstreet.ca/events to learn about upcoming availability.
- Facebook and Instagram Advertising on a Small Budget
- Website Building for Beginners Boot Camp
- Web Presence 101: Ensuring your foundation is set
- Social Media for Small Business
- Email Marketing Boot Camp
- and many more…
To learn about further offerings from Digital Main Street and how it has helped businesses, just like your’s, read the case studies at digitalmainstreet.ca/case-studies.
Who can I call with questions?
The province has launched a toll-free line called the Stop the Spread Business Information Line, 1-888-444-3659 to provide support to Ontario businesses who have questions about the province’s recent emergency order to close at-risk workplaces following recommendations by Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health. Read the full press release by clicking here.
What is the Canadian Government doing to help?
The Government of Canada has assembled a webpage of Resources for Canadian Businesses experiencing the effects of COVID-19.
The page includes, but is not limited to:
1. Support for employees
2. Support for businesses
3. Business travel and events
4. Business in international markets
Please visit canada.ca/covid-19-business.
What is the City of Toronto doing to help?
The city of Toronto has assembled a page with the information small businesses may need. on one single It also details information at the provincial and federal levels. Consider bookmarking this page: https://www.toronto.ca/home/covid-19/economic-support-recovery/economic-support-recovery-for-businesses/
How can I presell gift cards to raise funds?
A growing trend we have seen is people buying gift cards to local businesses, to support them as they struggle with temporarily closing due to COVID-19. The idea is the business gets the cash injection when revenues are down, and the consumer can redeem the gift card when the business is allowed to open again. Below are two options of platforms that enable this service.
1 of 2) Gift Forward
One Old Town Toronto business has used a service called GIFTforward to do this. Click here to view their listing and visit the site’s FAQ page to learn more. This seems to be gaining traction in Toronto. If you decide to sign up for this or something else similar, please let us know.
2 of 2) Sell gift cards now, for later via The Neighbourgood
The Neighbourgood is a social good initiative that helps you sell gift cards to raise funds now. They do not take any cuts. They’ve partnered with a gift card platform that handles everything from instantly sending you payment to easy redemption. No setup fees, no monthly fees, nada. Use the link below to learn more then start selling gift cards for clients to redeem later.
Recovery Readiness. A How To Guide For Opening Your Workplace
While no official timelines or requirements have been released yet in Ontario in regards to reopening businesses, this how to guide could help your business start to plan and think about what may be required when the time comes.
As a global organization, Cushman & Wakefield has offices around the world. They have been working very closely with their operations in Asia who are ahead of other parts of the world with respect to the pandemic. To date, they have helped their clients return over 1 million people back to work.
The guide outlines “The Safe Six” workplace readiness essentials including, Preparing the Building, Preparing the Workforce, Controlling Access, Creating a Social Distancing Plan, Reducing Touch Points and Increasing Cleaning, and Communicating for Confidence.
To download the guide and start thinking of things you may need to do, please visit: https://info.cushmanwakefield.com/l/263412/2020-04-20/2lpnkx
Boarding Up Shop Windows
To protect property, and to discourage vandalism and theft, many Toronto businesses and landlords, from large chains to small independents, have taken the step to board up their windows/facades. Here are a few resources to help you and/or your landlord if you choose to board up.
Watch this video from Home Depot detailing the steps and key measurements to board up single windows: https://www.homedepot.com/c/ah/how-to-board-up-windows/9ba683603be9fa5395fab90dea78d75
DIY INSTRUCTION SHEET
Read this instruction sheet posted on WikiHow detailing the steps and measurements to board up a single window: https://www.wikihow.com/Board-Up-a-Window
The following are a few service providers who listed they perform window boarding up services. Please do your own due diligence when choosing who to hire. Ask for references and examples of past work. Get a quote or estimate. Contact your landlord. Please do not consider these service providers to be officially endorsed by Old Town Toronto or St Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA. Have one to add? Email info to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Control Retail Management: https://www.controlmanagement.ca/
Crystal Clear Installations: https://www.ccinstallations.ca/services/ID/5
Restoration Service: http://www.restorationservice.ca/board-up-services-toronto/
Distantly – Accepting Donations For Your Business
For the past few weeks TABIA (Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas) has been collaborating with a Toronto-based technology firm, and a number of concerned local citizens, to launch a tool to allow your small business to receive donations to put towards the overwhelming expenses you are likely experiencing at this time, such as rent and payroll.
The tool is https://www.distantly.ca/
Create a free business profile in a few short minutes and securely connect your bank account to receive donations. Then share your page, via email and social media to advertise that you are grateful to accept any financial contributions from the community starting as low as $1. Donations are deposited directly into your bank account securely within 48 hours and there is no cost to you.
You can sign up for FREE here: https://www.distantly.ca/
Don’t Turn Out The Lights On Small Business – Round 2
The DON’T TURN OUT THE LIGHTS ON SMALL BUSINESS #KeepTheLightsOn #SmallBusinessRentRelief social media campaign from March has been re-launched for April. The campaign’s creators need your help posting the image and text below to draw attention to the fact that many small businesses, even with wage subsidies, will not be able to pay their May rent. Please consider sharing the following message (edit as you see fit) and download and include the images here:
Suggested text to include:
A small business might post the image with text such as:
“We’re nervous about our future and worried we might have to consider turning off the lights for good if we do not get rent relief. Unlike renters, commercial tenants such as us could face property seizures and lockouts in just a few days without #smallbusinessrentrelief.”
(Make sure to tag and/or mention Mayor John Tory, Premier Doug Ford, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Minister of Small Business Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria. Their handles for each platform are below. It is important they are mentioned and or tagged.)
A landlord might post the image with text such as:
“As a small landlord we’re nervous about the future of small business. Without typical revenue levels, or in some cases none at all, they need #smallbusinessrentrelief. Let’s help small businesses #keepthelightson.”
(Make sure to tag and/or mention Mayor John Tory, Premier Doug Ford, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Ontario Minister of Small Business Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria. Their handles for each platform are below. It is important they are mentioned and or tagged.)
Handles to include:
|Mayor John Tory||@JohnTory||@John Tory||@johntory||@John Tory|
|Premier Doug Ford||@fordnation||@FordNation||@fordnationadougford||@Doug Ford|
|Prime Minister Justin Trudeau||@JustinTrudeau||@Justin Trudeau||@justinpjtrudeau||@Justin Trudeau|
|Ont. Minister of Small Business Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria||@PrabSarkaria||@prabmeetsinghsarkia||@prabsarkaria|
SURVEY: COVID-19 Impact Survey By St. Lawrence Market Neighbourhood BIA / Old Town Toronto Members
Through the survey LINK below, please share how things have changed for you and your staff, due to COVID-19, and any advice you have for other businesses.
User Friendly List of Government Resources via Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam
Ward 13 Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam’s office has compiled a user friendly list of resources offered from all levels of government in one place.
- Visit https://www.kristynwongtam.ca/covid19
- Scroll down to Links and Resources
- Choose User Friendly List of Government Resources
One-Stop Information Centre For Businesses
The City of Toronto and the Toronto Region Board of Trade are partnering to deliver you a one-stop information centre where you will find the resources, tools, and critical support programs you need to manage the challenge you’re facing. Right now, you can watch and read how to access new government supports.
Canadian Federation of Independent Business
CFIB (Canadian Federation of Independent Business) has created an exceptional set of resources and FAQs including materials like a template lease deferral agreement to help with rent negotiations and other useful templates and guides.
Webinars from Enterprise Toronto
The world just changed rapidly, leaving many uncertain of how they are going to survive the economic impact of Covid-19. Enterprise Toronto is hosting free webinars to help business owners. Visit the link below to see a list of upcoming sessions.
Who can I write a letter to?
All levels of businesses are facing challenges due to COVID-19. Public officials need to hear from you now. Please click here to copy and paste, review, edit, sign and send our drafted letter. A list of public officials and their contacts is included.
Direct link: https://oldtowntoronto.ca/letter
10 Tips for closing your business securely
1) Remove cash and place empty til in window/door.
2) Lock visible goods in storage, (offsite if possible.)
3) Post sign in door stating “NO CASH OR GOODS ON HAND/ YOU ARE ON CAMERA.”
4) Ensure cameras, alarms and locks are all functioning properly.
5) Leave lights on inside and out.
6) Take a copy of insurance contacts, policies and inventory list.
7) Post emergency key holder contact information inside, but not visible from windows.
8) When checking on your business, do so during the day with a partner.
9) Tell your business neighbours your plans and exchange contact information.
10) Report all suspicious activity by calling Toronto Police, non emergency at 416-808-2222.
Make sure your insurance is up to date
Right now, if something happens, the last thing you want deal with is a lapsed insurance policy. Make sure you have a copy of your insurance certificates and all the appropriate contacts (both at home and at work) and that your payments are up to date to avoid insurance interruption.
Who can promote my restaurant takeout/delivery service for free?
Find information below about the Tourism Toronto powered www.ToGoToronto.com and Old Town Toronto’s list of businesses open:
1 of 3) If you are open, let Old Town Toronto help promote you.
Many of our members are still offering services, in modified fashion. For restaurants, this means takeout and delivery options. For other lines of business this often means online sales, virtual consultations etc. We are constantly updating our list of businesses open and want to add you. The list is published on our webpage and the webpage’s link has been emailed to our entire email subscriber list and shared on social media. Please click here now to add your business. We update daily.
2 of 3) TO GO Toronto is offered free by Tourism Toronto
To Go Toronto will act as a resource for the delivery and takeout options that are currently available throughout Toronto – encouraging residents to support local businesses while respecting health guidelines and staying home. This new site is powered by Tourism Toronto in partnership with industry leaders and advocates.
To sign your restaurant up with a FREE listing:
1. Visit www.ToGoToronto.com
2. Click “Add Your Restaurant”
3. Fill out the fields, make sure to include an image.
4. Hit ‘submit’ when complete.
3 of 3) Canada Take Out
Canada Take Out is encouraging Canadians across the country to order takeout en-masse in a show of support for their favourite local restaurants every Wednesday. Take a moment to visit the link below and add your establishment to the list. Together we can make Wednesdays #TakeoutDay.
Am I a member?
Every business and commercial property owner within the boundaries of The St. Lawrence Market Business Improvement Area (BIA), also known at Old Town Toronto, are automatically members of our not-for-profit organization. To view a map of our boundaries, please click here now.
Old Town Toronto encourages you to follow all recommendations and orders of public health officials including, but not limited to, staying at home as much as possible. Together we will #FlattenTheCurve.