LAST UPDATED: Friday March 27, 2020

The Province of Ontario has declared a state of emergency and ordered all businesses, excluding those deemed to be essential businesses, to close. This has left businesses across Ontario with a range of questions. Below we attempt to help you find answers to the following questions:

  • What wage subsidy and additional items are coming, which will help me to operate, keep and re-hire staff?
  • Is a small business owner eligible for the $2,000 temporary wage subsidy?
  • Can my restaurant deliver alcohol?
  • Who can I call with questions?
  • What is the Canadian Government doing to help?
  • What is the City of Toronto doing to help?
  • and more…

What wage subsidy, and additional items are coming, which will help me to operate, keep and re-hire staff?

Small businesses will now be able to receive up to 75 per cent in federal government funds in order to keep paying their employees during the COVID-19 pandemic – up from the previously announced 10 per cent subsidy plan…” Click here to continue reading.

From the Prime Minister of Canada: Prime Minister announces support for small businesses facing impacts of COVID‑19

Watch on YouTube: COVID-19 update: Trudeau addresses Canadians | Special coverage

Please note that requirements and procedures for this program, to our knowledge, were not announced as of March 27, 2020. We expect the Government of Canada to announce more details next week.



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.



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


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/


Where can I find more information?

One of our neighbouring BIAs, The Waterfront BIA, has put together a comprehensive webpage of resources and links for businesses you may find helpful. (Examples below.) They are updating as time goes on. We encourage you to visit waterfrontbia.com/covid-19 to learn more. On behalf of all businesses in the City of Toronto, we thank The Waterfront BIA for putting this together.

The list includes, but is not limited to, information on:

  • Primary Government Sources of Information
  • Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)
  • Small Business Tax Deferral
  • Deferral of Business Education Tax Payments (commercial property tax)
  • Provincial Tax Relief
  • Grace Period for Municipal Property Taxes
  • Grace Period for Municipal Utility Bills: (Water/Sewer Service and Solid Waste Management charges where applicable)
  • 24-hour Retail Delivery Noise Exemption
  • Employer obligations for workers infected with COVID-19
  • and much more.

Please visit waterfrontbia.com/covid-19.


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


REMINDER: 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.

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.