LAST UPDATED: Thursday November 26th, 2020
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 businesses should find helpful.

Please note, as this page continues to grow, new items will be added at the top of the list.

Select Topics Include:

  • NEW CanadaEmergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
  • NEW Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support Chart
  • Lockdown Details & Grants
  • New, targeted support to help businesses through pandemic receives Royal Assent
  • Property tax and energy cost rebates available for businesses affected by COVID-19 public health measures
  • ShopOldTownToronto2WIN Starts November 8th
  • How & Why To Report A Crime
  • POSTER: Covid-19 Alert App to post
  • Digital Main Street: Future Proof Program
  • POSTER: Mask Bylaw: poster & other important information for businesses
  • POSTER: Social Distancing Signage for businesses
  • Staff Screening Sheet
  • and more…

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
Added Mon. Nov. 23, 2020

Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021.

This subsidy will provide payments directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords.

If you are eligible for the base subsidy, you may also be eligible for lockdown support if your business location is significantly affected by a public health order for a week or more.

Please click here to learn who qualifies and how to apply.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support
Added Mon. Nov. 23, 2020

Above is a useful summary chart for Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Lockdown Support. To access the actual website and learn more, please click here.

Please be sure to take advantage of these programs.

NEW: Lockdown Details & Grants: Ontario Taking Further Action to Stop the Spread of COVID-19
Added Fri. Nov. 20, 2020

The government intends to move Peel Public Health and Toronto Public Health into Lockdown effective Monday, November 23, 2020 at 12:01 a.m.

Measures under Lockdown include, but are not limited to:

  • Retail permitted to be open for curbside pick-up or delivery only, with certain exceptions such as for supermarkets, grocery stores, pharmacies, hardware stores, discount and big box retailers selling groceries, beer, wine and liquor stores, safety supply stores, and convenience stores, which will be allowed to operate at 50 per cent capacity;
  • Restaurants, bars, and food and drink establishments will only be able to provide takeout, drive-through and delivery. Indoor and outdoor dining services are prohibited;
  • Personal care services closed;
  • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments closed; and
    Indoor sports and recreational facilities, including pools, closed with limited exceptions.
  • Schools, before and after school programs, and child care will remain open;
  • Post-secondary schools open for virtual learning with some limited exceptions for training that can only be provided in-person, such as clinical training or training related to a trade;
  • No indoor organized public events or social gatherings except with members of the same household. Individuals who live alone, including seniors, may consider having exclusive, close contact with one other person;
  • Outdoor organized public events or social gatherings limited to a maximum of 10 people;
  • Wedding services, funeral services and religious services, rites or ceremonies where physical distancing can be maintained can have up to 10 people indoors or 10 people outdoors;

Public health units will stay in their level for a minimum of 28 days, or two COVID-19 incubation periods, at which time, the government will assess the impact of public health measures to determine if the public health unit should stay where they are or be moved to a different level.

Businesses can apply online for temporary property tax and energy cost rebate grants from the province, via an easy-to-use one-window portal. The rebates will cover the length of time that a business is required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in an area categorized as Red-Control or Lockdown, or previously categorized as modified Stage 2 public health restrictions. Most businesses can expect to receive their rebate payments within a few weeks of submitting a complete application. A detailed list of eligible businesses, as well as instructions for applying, can be found at

Read the full press release by clicking here.

Learn about Ontario’s colour coded Response Framework by clicking here.

NEW: New, targeted support to help businesses through pandemic receives Royal Assent
Added Fri. Nov. 20, 2020

The government is taking targeted action to support Canadians and Canadian businesses, non-profits and charities that continue to face uncertainty and economic challenges because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Thursday November 19th, 2020,, Bill C-9, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy) received Royal Assent, implementing new, targeted support to help hard-hit businesses. These measures will help businesses get through the second wave of the virus so they can protect jobs, continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery.

The measures adopted as part of Bill C-9 are:

  • The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which will provide direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage interest support to tenants and property owners until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The new rent subsidy will support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Claims can be made retroactively to September 27, 2020.
  • The new Lockdown Support, which will provide an additional 25 per cent through the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly restrict their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws). Combined, this will mean that hard-hit businesses subject to a lockdown could receive rent support of up to 90 per cent.
  • The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021, which will continue to protect jobs by helping employers keep employees on the payroll and re-hire workers. The wage subsidy will remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.

The government also reaffirms its intention to introduce legislation to formalize rent payable as an eligible expense, for purposes of the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, as of September 27, 2020.  Qualifying organizations will be able to take advantage of the rent subsidy on this basis as soon as the application portal is launched*.

*We will update this posting when more details are released. Update: Nov 23 2020: Please see posting above titled Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

Read the full press release by clicking here.

Digital Main Street help, PLUS transformation grant
Added Fri. Nov. 20, 2020

The Digital Main Street (DMS) program is free and can help your business be more easily found on the internet. Digital Main Street offers Digital Transformation training, guidance and much, much more. PLUS RIGHT NOW they can help you apply for a $2500 transformation grant, due November 30th, now due December 15th (or when all grants are distributed.). Even if you miss this grant deadline, please take advantage of their expertise!

Our local Digital Service Squad (DSS) member is Chelsea Armstrong. Chelsea’s primary role is to help you on-board to the Digital Main Street platform and assess your digital needs. She can then help you gain a basic web presence or enhance your existing web presence by helping you activate easy-to-use tools such as Google My Business, social media, or setting-up a free trial of an e-commerce shop (through Shopify). For assistance with any of this, please reach out to Chelsea ASAP via email at

If you do decide to apply for the grant, here are a few things it could go towards:

-Digital Marketing
-Hiring a consultant/agency/person to execute Digital Marketing initiatives
-Redesign, Improvement of existing website
-Development of new website
-Graphic design software
-Productivity Software (LastPass, Hootsuite, Dropbox, etc.)
-Social Media Software (Hootsuite, Buffer, etc.)
-Security Software
-Other software as evidenced in the DTP

Ontario rebates & grants for property tax, energy and PPE costs
Added Fri. Nov. 20, 2020

As we mentioned recently, Ontario is helping businesses recover costs for personal protective equipment and providing extra support for businesses required to close or significantly restrict services as a result of provincial public health measures. Applications are now open.

Your business can apply for funding from one or more of the following initiatives:

Main Street Relief Grant for Personal protective equipment (PPE) providing up to $1,000 for PPE costs to eligible small businesses across Ontario with 2 to 9 employees.

Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebate Grants for businesses that were required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures (modified Stage 2 restrictions or, going forward, in areas categorized as control or lockdown). This provincial application-based grant provides a rebate to eligible businesses in respect of property taxes and energy bills.

To learn more and to apply please click here.

Winter CafeTO
Added Thurs. Nov. 12, 2020

UPDATE: Please note, ALL outdoor dining is prohibited as of Monday November 23rd as Toronto enters Lockdown. Stay tuned for updates.

There is no registration required to participate in Winter CaféTO, however, you MUST follow the required steps to operate a sidewalk café as outlined on the City of Toronto Website and ensure you are in compliance as site visits are expected.

You will need to:
1) Read the design guide.
2) Prepare for on the spot presentation of: insurance, letter of Municipal non-objection, liquor license.
3) Obtain permission letter (in some cases).
4) Read the indemnification clause, staff report and motion.

In addition to the above, it is imperative you read the tabs regarding:
5) Winter Maintenance, ie) snow removal and when you are obligated to remove your patio for sidewalk plows.
6) Tent / Structure Guidelines, ie) where tents are and are not allowed as well as sizing and openings.
7) Heater Guidelines, ie) where they are allowed, not allowed, types etc.

Learn more bt clicking here to view:

Saturday November 14th: Toronto to entered red zone under Ontario’s coronavirus system with stricter local restrictions
Added Thurs. Nov. 12, 2020

UPDATE: Please note, Toronto will move to Lockdown Grey Zone on Monday November 23rd, 2020

Toronto entered the red zone under Ontario’s new coronavirus system, while local officials implemented stricter restrictions than what is required under the provincial regulations.

Indoor dining, meeting and event spaces and gaming establishments will remain closed.

Indoor fitness classes will not be permitted, while gyms will be allowed to open with a maximum of 10 people indoors.
Click here to continue reading and view source.

Learn about Ontario’s colour coded system by clicking here.

Property tax and energy cost rebates available for businesses affected by COVID-19 public health measures
Added Thurs. Nov. 12, 2020

The Ontario government is supporting businesses affected by COVID-19 public health measures by providing property tax and energy cost rebates. The rebates will cover the period of time that businesses are required to temporarily close or significantly restrict services as a result of being located in areas such as Toronto that have been subject to modified Stage 2 public health restrictions. Application forms will be available for eligible businesses on November 16. See Get help with COVID-19 costs web page for more information

Learn more by clicking here.

Lockdown Support for Businesses Facing Significant Public Health Restrictions (under CERS)
Added Thurs. Nov. 12, 2020

On October 9, the government proposed new targeted, direct supports for businesses, non-profits and charities facing ongoing economic challenges amidst the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. For organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws), the government proposed a top-up under the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to provide additional support while they face lockdowns.

Learn more by clicking here.

UPDATE ON: Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Extension
Added Thurs. Nov. 12, 2020

The government is proposing to further extend the wage subsidy program until June 2021 and implement other enhancements to the program to better respond to the evolving economic and health situation. These proposed changes will make the program more flexible and more generous, and ensure that the program provides continued support to employers.

Details of the program until December 19, 2020 are provided here. The government will provide details for the upcoming periods in advance of the current terms’ expiry and will ensure the wage subsidy program continues to be responsive to the economic situation.

Click here to learn more.


UPDATE ON: Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
Added Thurs. Nov. 12, 2020

On October 9, the government proposed the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to provide direct relief to businesses, non-profits, and charities that continue to be economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rent subsidy would be available retroactive to September 27, 2020, until June 2021.

The government is providing the proposed details for the first 12 weeks of the program, until December 19, 2020.

Click here to learn more.

PATIO UPDATE: Important Steps To Keep Outdoor Dining Safer
& Extension of Winter Patio Program 

Stay Safe:
1) Coverings (e.g. roof/tent) must have 2+ sides open to the outdoors.
2) Separate customers seated at different tables by at least 6 feet/2 metres.
3) Staff/customers must wear a mask inside (e.g. washrooms) & are recommended to wear one outside.
4) Enclosed dome coverings are not allowed while indoor dining is prohibited, (see item 1# above.)
5) Frequently clean & disinfect all potentially contaminated surfaces.
6) Post Coovid-19 screening sign & keep a log with staff / customer contact info.

Winter Patios:
Toronto City Council has approved the extension of the winter patio program for curbside (not curb lane) cafes and expanded private patios. The full press release can be found here.

More information, including new guidelines, will become available early November at

ShopOldTownToronto2WIN Starts November 8th

  • Draw for $1000 every Sunday! ($500 for the winner and $500 for your business)
  • Draws take place Nov 15, 22, 29 and Dec 6, 13 and 20

ShopOldTownTO2Win will encourage the surrounding community to shop local more often at businesses they know and love in the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood/Old Town Toronto this fall. It also encourages them to try new local businesses as they strive to get more receipts every week to enter the contest

1.    As a member of the St. Lawrence Neighbourhood BIA, you are automatically included in this promotion without needing to do anything at all.

2.    In order to enter the promotion, customers simply visit and upload a photo of any receipt for $25 or more including taxes (but not delivery fees or tips) for a chance to win $500, and if the winning receipt was from your store you also get $500!

3.    The contest runs for six weeks, from November 8 – December 20 with weekly draws every Sunday.

4.    Receipts must include your business name and date of purchase. If your receipts don’t include this info, please manually write it onto your receipt if requested by a client wishing to enter the contest so that it can be validated.

5.    Multiple receipts may be uploaded daily (the more people shop the better their chances of winning!) However:
a.    Only one receipt per business each day can be uploaded.
b.    Business owners (and their staff) are able to participate by shopping at other retailers in the BIA but cannot win if the receipt submitted was for a purchase at their own establishment.

6.    This week, someone will come by your business to drop off promotional materials.  You can help support this initiative by doing these things:
a.    Display marketing collateral prominently
b.    Talk to your customers about it – they’ll appreciate it and enter your receipts more often!
c.    Get Social – follow the BIA on social and like, comment and share as much as possible
d.    Tag the contest in any of your own social posts and remind people about it often and use the hashtag #ShopOTT2Win
e.    Remind clients by adding info about the contest to your POS system if possible

You can direct any questions to our Director of Marketing, Events & Member Services at

Homelessness & Encampments – Take Action

Before the COVID-19 global pandemic, Toronto was already facing a homelessness crisis of massive proportion. During the pandemic, the crisis has become more visible and incredibly more acute.

Issues contributing to homelessness, mental health and addictions are all within the legislative jurisdiction of the Provincial and Federal Governments. Without the active participation from the other orders of government, Toronto will be unable to meet the demand for affordable and supportive housing, an overdose epidemic, mental health and public safety issues.

Take action by using the pre-populated email found on City of Toronto Councillor Wong-Tam’s website to help draw more attention to this issue. Simply click here and scroll down to the form.

How & Why To Report A Crime

Why report it?
Our members often say they would like to see an increase in Toronto Police presence, but Toronto Police say they do not receive reports to show were coverage is needed the most. Since police resources are often based on reporting data, as a business and as a resident, it is in YOUR BEST INTEREST to report everything, every time.

Please consider downloading the above graphic by clicking here to print, read and post in your staff room and at home.

Reporting online is fast:
The items listed below can now be reported online. Every report filed helps improve the police resource allocation data. Report as often as possible. Please review the following link now and bookmark it on your computer and phone for future reporting:

You can report these items online:

  • Lost property
  • Damage to property under $5000
  • Damage to vehicle under $5000
  • Theft under $5000
  • Fraud under $5000
  • and more

Confronting Anti-Black Racism training

Online webinar training is available to you in regards to Confronting Anti-Black Racism. You can attend any one of these four sessions, free of charge.

The purpose of these sessions:
1) Enhance our collective abilities to identify and remove systemic barriers experienced by Black Torontonians.
2) Strengthen our abilities and activities as members of the BIA community to make our services, spaces and policies fully inclusive and accessible to all Black Torontonians.

Training Goals:

  • Examine how the history of Black people in Canada continues to impact socio-economic disadvantages and disparities experienced by Black Torontonians today;
  • Identify the multifold manifestations of anti-Black racism in Canadian policies, legislation and institutions.
  • Learn and apply the Anti-Black Racism Analysis Tool to ensure BIA services, spaces and policies are fully responsive, inclusive and accessible to Black Torontonians.
Dates and times available to you:
Wed. Oct. 28th, 4:30pm
Mon. Nov. 2nd,12:30pm
Wed. Nov. 18, 8:30am
Mon. Nov. 23rd, 4:30am

Learn more and register here:

Restaurants invited participate in ToGoToronto for FREE is up and running again to support the economic recovery of the restaurant community. The platform provides an easy way for Toronto residents to find restaurants that are open for safe takeout or delivery. Register for free to add your restaurant.

Learn more here:

City of Toronto partnering with Ritual to launch Open For Business

The City of Toronto is extending its partnership with Ritual to launch Open For Business, a collaboration to help small businesses across Toronto increase online delivery sales.

As part of the initiative – which also includes food delivery service DoorDash – the digital ordering platform Ritual ONE is available to any Toronto business at no cost through the end of this year. In addition, Toronto businesses will receive two weeks of free delivery from DoorDash from October 26 to November 8.

Any business that completes one delivery order on Ritual ONE powered by DoorDash Drive by December 31 will also receive Ritual ONE for free through 2021.

Learn more by clicking here.

Patio Heaters Fire Prevention

During the recent Fire Prevention Week, the Technical Standards & Safety Authority (TSSA), the Ontario Association of Fire Chiefs (OAFC) and the Canadian Propane Association partnered to educate the hospitality industry and the public about potential fire and carbon monoxide hazards associated with the improper use of patio heaters.

Please review this important press release and the guidelines you should post in your staff room.

REMINDER: Keep these units locked up outside at night to avoid theft. See Safety Guide for rules, regulations and additional storage information.

$2000 in FREE LED Interior Lighting Upgrades

Don’t miss your chance to receive up to $2,000 in free LED interior lighting upgrades to your business.

LED lighting upgrades can save you up to 20% on your electricity costs.

Email or call Nick Brown, Energy Manager of the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas to be connected with a program representative who will schedule a free lighting assessment to determine what lighting upgrades you are eligible for.

Nick can be reached at or (416) 886-1244.

The below information has been replaced due to new announcements.

New protocols for restaurants start October 8th, 2020

If you operate a dining establishment, please note that City Council has passed new bylaws you must comply with. These will come into effect on Thursday October 8th, 2020.

Role of employer during a workplace COVID-19 outbreak
Are you ready for an outbreak? Here is what you need to do now and during an outbreak:

1) Develop a preparedness and response plan in the event someone becomes ill with symptoms of COVID-19.

2) Communicate with employees and business partners early and often to ensure accurate information is being shared.

3) Keep a list of the names and contact information of all participants at in-person meetings or events. Toronto Public Health will use this list to notify and provide instructions for close contacts to self-isolate or self-monitor for COVID-19 symptoms.

4) Any personal information that is collected for COVID-19 contract tracing can only be used for this purpose, unless an individual provides their consent. Records should only be kept for 30 days, and then shredded.

5) Contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 for guidance if you have been notified that an employee has tested positive and/or you have concerns that employees may have been exposed to a person with COVID-19 in the workplace.

6) Provide Toronto Public Health with contact information of exposed employees and customers to assist with contact tracing.

7) If a staff member, client or customer has tested positive for COVID-19, Toronto Public Health will interview the person to determine if he/she was contagious while on your premises. Consent is obtained from the employee before disclosing personal health information to the employer.

8) Clean and disinfect surfaces that may have been touched by the sick employee as soon as possible.

9) Additional public health advice in the event of an outbreak may include additional cleaning and disinfecting measures to reduce the risk of spread in the setting.

10) Follow public health guidance on additional preventive measures.

11) Support employees who need to be absent from work due to illness or being a close contact of a confirmed case of COVID-19.

12) Maintain confidentiality of employees’ personal health information.

13) Report to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development and Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) if you have been advised that one of your employees has tested positive due to exposure at the workplace.

14) Encourage staff to download the COVID Alert app so they can be notified directly if they have been in close contact with someone who was contagious with COVID-19.

For more please visit:

POSTER: Covid-19 Alert App to post

The City of Toronto is sharing the above poster and asking all businesses to consider posting in a highly visible area. You can download the poster by clicking here. Additional posters can be located by clicking here.

Capacity Limits for Businesses

On September 19, 2020, the Province of Ontario announced, in a press release that the new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored private social gathering, across the province, is now 10 people at an indoor event, and 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering.

This new announcement DOES NOT apply to staffed businesses. Inside, businesses can still have up to 50 people if proper physical distancing measures are in place (ie. enough room for 6 feet between guests, masks being used, contact tracing for restaurants… etc).

If physical distancing cannot be maintained, businesses should lower their capacity accordingly down from 50.
TIP: Many businesses post a sign on their front door identifying the number of people they can welcome into their space at a time.

If you are a bar/restaurant/activity or entertainment venue and have room for MORE than 50 and can maintain all protocols, you can apply for an exemption from the city. Learn more by clicking here.

For more, please review this article from CTVNews.

Sign up for DineOutTO NOW!

On Sept. 23rd Destination Toronto, in partnership with the City of Toronto, is launching a 6 week promotion called DineOutTO. The goal is to inspire and encourage Toronto residents to discover new culinary experiences. (Let’s make them culinary tourists in their own city!) The program will be heavily supported by a marketing and social media campaign, targeting Torontonians.

You can participate one, two or three ways:

1) A Special Offer • Present a special offer or value-add. For example, a complimentary appetizer, percentage off total bill, bonus item, or kids eat free.


2) A Signature Dish • Show off your special signature dish, cocktail, or a ‘must-try’ item on your menu. This category is for those people who need a little inspiration or are looking to try the best of what our food scene has to offer.


3) A Culinary Experience • Include a special experience unique to your restaurant. Example a seasonal prix-fixe menu, reservation at the chef’s table, or unique wine pairings.

If at any time your offerings change, or there is a need to pause service, you can login and easily update, edit or remove any part of your listing.

How To Register:
Go to the DineOutTO Registration Page and:
• Add your restaurant
• Note your offer, signature dish and/or culinary experience
• Include an image
• Enter your MLS License Number
• Upload an image of your DineSafe pass

For questions please contact:

CafeTO Fall Update PLUS heaters now allowed on all patios

Many restaurants are now looking for outdoor heaters for their patios. Below are a few possible suppliers we are aware of. Please email us any other supplier suggestions you have and we will add them to the list.

Before adding heaters to your patio be sure you read the CafeTO Fall Update for more info, as well as these additional resources: A) Propane Safety Fact Sheet, B) Carbon Monoxide Fact Sheet, C) Cylinder Markings Fact Sheet.

1) Gervais Party & Tent
2) Varsity Tent & event Rentals
3) All Cargos
4) ASAP Rentals
5) Chair-man Mills
6) Toronto Event Rentals

To read the official press release, please click here.

Toronto Hydro’s COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Businesses (CEAP-SB)

The Government of Ontario has introduced the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) to support small business and registered charity customers struggling to pay their electricity bills as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. CEAP-SB provides a one-time, on-bill credit to eligible customers in need of financial assistance during this time.

Learn more:

NEW: $5000 relief grant for PPE, renovations or e-commerce upgrades

The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund will be managed by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce on behalf of the national Chamber network in support of other chambers and partners to help small Canadian businesses with their recovery efforts as a result of COVID-19.

If awarded, a relief grant can be used for any of the following activities:

  • Purchasing Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, face shields, and latex gloves.
  • Renovating physical space to adhere to local, Provincial or Federal reopening guidelines.
  • Developing or improving e-commerce capabilities for your business.

Successful applicants will receive a relief grant of up to $5,000. We intend to support local businesses of all kinds from across the country (from retailers to barbershops to farmers).

Learn more:

Digital Main Street has officially launched the Future Proof Program

We have told you before about the many resources Digital Main Street offers businesses. Today we are excited to share information on their new program, called Future Proof, which will help businesses adapt, change and grow, in a world impacted by Covid-19.

Future Proof is a program that assists businesses with identifying new markets, pivoting their business model, and developing and implementing a deep digital transformation plan.

The program is meant as a detailed deep dive to support businesses that require support in either transforming their business model or developing and implementing an advanced digital transformation plan.

There are 3 streams:

1) TRANSFORMATION TEAMS: The Business Transformation Teams will provide specialized and in-depth digital transformation services and support that help existing main street firms adapt to changes in their respective sector.

2) DIGITAL MAIN STREET LAB: The Digital Main Street Lab is focused on building collaborations between technology companies and communities to pilot innovations that encourage transformational change along main street for businesses.

3) COMMUNITY COLLABORATION PROJECTS: The Community Collaboration Projects will connect regional innovation centres and other community-based organizations in a series of conversations that will reveal common issues facing small and medium main street businesses and focus on developing workable solutions.

Learn more at

PPE discount for members via group buy

PPE (Personal Protective Equipment and supplies) have become staple items for running just about any business.

The Ontario Government and the City of Toronto have lists of potential suppliers you can check out, (see Toronto / Ontario Lists of PPE Suppliers heading below.) Plus now a local company by the name of Evrlinx is offering BIAs a discount on PPE.

Evrlinx helps businesses access better pricing through group buying. They gather orders from businesses, just like yours, and every two weeks place bulk orders with their suppliers at a discount, which they pass onto you. (You receive your order typically one to two weeks after you place it, depending on where Evrlinx is in their order cycle. Their internal order cycle resets every other Thursday.)

To learn more please visit and choose St. Lawrence Market as your BIA. Questions? Please call Evrlinx at 613-659-3604 or email

If you decide to order from Evrlinx please let us know what you think of the product and service. Who you order your PPE from is 100% up to you. This is not an official endorsement of one or any specific suppliers. Thank you for keeping health and safety top of mind as we all navigate Covid-19.

ShopHERE giving Toronto’s independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store.

Covid-19 has highlighted for businesses how important it is to have an online presence. To address this, Digital Main Street is collaborating with Google, Shopify, Mastercard and Microsoft to build and optimize online stores for small independent businesses and artists in just a matter of days. The ShopHERE program is free for participants to sign up and have a Shopify store built. Businesses will be responsible for the monthly Shopify fee after the initial 90-day trial.

What do I get?
As part of the program you get…

1) An online store customized with your information, branding, logo, etc.
2) Hands-on assistance setting up and launching your online store.
3) Training to support your online store, including topics such as digital marketing, shipping and inventory management.
4) Access to free tools to help support the launch of you online store.

Signage: Mask Bylaw: poster & other important information for businesses

Masks to be worn indoors.
Wearing a mask or face covering is required in indoor public spaces in the City of Toronto as of July 7, 2020.  With some exceptions, all customers or visitors entering an indoor public premise are required to wear a mask or face covering while inside.

Please ensure that…

  • Masks and face coverings cover your nose, mouth and chin, without gapping.
  • Wash your hands before and after putting on your mask, and again after removal, (to reduce cross contamination.)
  • Store your mask in a clean paper bag, (to stop cross contamination.)
  • Wash your mask (and hands) regularly.

As a business you must:

  1. Create a mask policy for your establishment. Click here and see page 3 for a sample.
  2. Communicate this new policy to staff and customers.
  3. Train your staff on the policy and who is exempt.
  4. Post signs at all entrances reminding everyone to wear a mask and must include the language used in the bylaw. Click here to download a pre-made sign with the mandatory wording.

Please note: All staff, customers or visitors must wear a mask indoors, with some exceptions (e.g. children under the age of two and people with certain health conditions, employees in designated areas or protected by a physical barrier). Proof is not required if someone has an exemption.

To learn more details please visit the City of Toronto’s webpage, COVID 19: Mandatory Mask or Face Covering Bylaw and watch this on demand webinar by clicking here.

Signage: How to Wear A Cloth Mask, City of Toronto

Please refer to the sign above to learn how to wear a mask properly. To download and print, please click here.

Re-opening Guidance From City of Toronto

The City of Toronto is preparing to oversee the safe restart of some services and partial reopening of many businesses. Resources have been developed to help support business through this time. For guidance on safely reopening, business operators can reference the Toronto Public Health Planning Guide, and visit the COVID-19: Reopening Guidelines for Businesses & Organizations to view sector specific resources.

Decisions about when and how businesses can begin operating will be made by the Government of Ontario in accordance with its framework to reopen the province after COVID-19.

Toronto / Ontario Lists of PPE Suppliers

The City of Toronto has a webpage where you can find a list of suppliers of PPE and other needed goods & services, or apply to a be supplier. Please click here to visit the page to learn more and to download the most up to date list.

The province of Ontario has set up a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory, where employers can find suppliers who sell personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies to support a safe reopening of their workplaces.

Weekly Webinars for Toronto Businesses

These repeat weekly. You can attend more than once. Here are a few of the webinar titles:

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.)

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.

Click here now to continue reading and to access resources.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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

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:

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.

To access:

  1. Visit
  2. Scroll down to Links and Resources
  3. 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.

Learn more:

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.

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.