Ontario's Initiatives to Support Jobs and Businesses Impacted by COVID-19
While COVID-19 has had a serious health impact, the outbreak is also affecting Ontario's businesses, communities and families. As the economic impacts of COVID-19 continue to evolve, the government is committed to taking immediate action to respond to these challenges, help small businesses grow and succeed and support the long-term health of Ontario's economy.
As this situation continues to rapidly change, details of these measures may evolve as they are implemented.
Ontario's Action Plan took immediate steps to support people and families by planning to invest $3.7 billion in supports for people and jobs in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, including:
- Helping families pay for extra costs associated with school and daycare closures during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing a one-time $200 payment per child up to 12 years of age, and $250 for those with special needs including kids enrolled in private schools;
- Providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief, in coordination with the federal government's measures, leaving more money in the pockets of student borrowers;
- Providing new, additional support of over $37 million to Indigenous peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations, as well as funding to address emergency planning and self‑isolation needs for people in First Nation communities;
- $200 million in new funding to provide temporary emergency supports for people in financial need as well as funding to municipalities and other service providers to respond to local needs; for example, food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services;
- Making electricity bills more affordable for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers through a $1.5 billion increase in electricity cost relief compared to the 2019 Budget. The government is also setting electricity prices for time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day, extended until May 31, 2020, to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage as a result of measures to contain the COVID-19 outbreak;
- $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low‑income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and the Ontario Energy Board extended the winter ban on disconnections to July 31, ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during this period;
- Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption;
- Supporting the timely delivery of critical food and supplies by amending a regulation that restricted delivery trucks from operating during off-peak hours;
- Quickly passing legislation to provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures due to the COVID-19 outbreak;
- Committing $100 million in funding through Employment Ontario for skills training programs for workers affected by the COVID-19 outbreak;
- Working with the federal government to find ways to support apprentices and enable businesses to continue to retain these skilled trades workers during the COVID-19 outbreak;
- $75 million in urgent additional support for 194,000 low-income seniors by doubling the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) payment to up to $166 per month for individuals and up to $332 per month for couples, for six months starting in April 2020;
- Creating a new unpaid, job-protected infectious disease emergency leave. You can take this leave if you are not able to work due to COVID-19;
- Providing the option for eligible health care and frontline workers to send their children to emergency child care while they are at work;
- Creating a one-stop shop to learn about employment openings and training resources in Ontario's agriculture and food sector, helping to keep our grocery store shelves full and food on our kitchen tables;
- Taking steps to keep goods moving during COVID-19, such as providing truck drivers with more places to safely stop and rest. This includes parking at all 23 ONroutes and seasonal rest areas, truck inspection stations and truck lay-bys;
- Developing specific COVID-19 health guidance documents for sectors including: health, food premises, industry operators, emergency childcare centres,funeral and bereavement services, temporary foreign workers, homeless shelters, group homes and co-living settings;
- Providing frontline staff with a temporary pandemic payment. This increase will provide four dollars per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, as well as lump sum payments to those working over 100 hours per month. The province has been working with the federal government to secure a strong partnership to support Ontario's action;
- Providing online mental health services online or by phone;
- Enhancing funding for charitable and non-profit social services organizations, for example food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services such as the Red Cross, to improve their ability to respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. The government is doing this by providing $148 million directly to Consolidated Municipal Service Managers and District Social Service Administration Boards who would allocate this funding based on local needs; and
- Equipping essential first responders and front-line staff in the justice sector with the necessary personal protective equipment and other critical supplies required to ensure the safety and security of all people in Ontario during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Ontario's Action Plan took immediate steps with $10 billion in support for people and businesses to improve cash flows by:
- Providing a five-month interest and penalty-free period to make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes, providing $6 billion in relief to help support Ontario businesses when they need it the most;
- Deferring the upcoming quarterly (June 30) remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days. This will provide municipalities with the flexibility to, in turn, provide property tax deferrals of over $1.8 billion to local residents and businesses;
- Providing $1.9 billion in financial relief by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) allowing employers to defer payments until August 31, 2020;
- From March 24 to May 31, 2020, as recently extended, residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers will get the lowest rate — also known as the off-peak price — 24 hours a day. That means you will pay 10.1 ¢/kWh no matter what time of day you use electricity;
- Increasing the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million;
- Introducing a Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit, a 10 per cent refundable Corporate Income Tax credit, to provide tax relief to businesses that build, renovate or purchase eligible commercial and industrial buildings in regions of the province where employment growth has been significantly lagging the provincial average; and
- Committing $241 million to partner with the federal government and deliver more than $900 million in urgent relief to small businesses and their landlords through a new program, the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA).