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Ontario Introducing COVID Benefits

On January 3, 2022, the Ontario government announced temporary closures and limitations. Of course, these are in place to manage the Omicron variant and related COVID-19 outbreak. This was a health and safety measure to prevent the further spread of the virus. Therefore, many businesses had to close their doors or reduce capacity beginning on January 5th. Naturally, the government wants to help small businesses stay afloat financially. So, the Ontario government is offering new COVID benefits (emergency financial assistance). There is also financial relief for workers and families. To learn more about what’s available, who’s eligible, and how to apply, continue reading below.

Ontario providing relief for some businesses and people affected by the pandemic

With the Omicron variant, the Ontario government introduced more COVID benefits. Consequently, targeted relief is available for businesses and individuals impacted by the current public health measures. For instance, the new plan includes a $10,000 grant for eligible businesses. The official name is the Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant. In addition, there will be electricity-rate relief for businesses, workers and families who are spending more time at home. This COVID relief fund accommodates for the altered Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen and corresponding closures, announced on January 3, 2022. 

We can help you with your debt struggles during COVID. Talk to one of our trained counsellors.

For how long is the grant offered by the Ontario Government?

For instance, it appears the COVID financial assistance Ontario grant is a one-time payment. The modified Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen is in place until at least January 26, 2022. The $10,000 financially assists businesses for the month of January.

However, this could change down the road if the closures are in effect after January 26.

What does the grant include?

The grant includes a $10,000 payment for eligible businesses. The money helps small businesses required to close as a result of the recently implemented restrictions to control the Omicron variant. Learn more about the new COVID money below.

Who is eligible?

The first criterion for the $10,000 grant is you’re a small business. The second criterion is your business is subject to closure on January 5, 2022, as a result of the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen in Ontario. Finally, your business must have less than 100 employees as of December 31, 2021, and be an active business as of January 14, 2022.

Below is a list of eligible business types:

Restaurants and bars
Indoor sports and recreational activity facilities, including gyms and fitness centers
Performing arts and cinemas
Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centers, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attraction
Meeting or event spaces
Tour and guide services
Conference and convention centers
Driving instruction for individuals
Before and after school programs

Businesses subject to 50% capacity restrictions are not eligible for the new Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant.

How to apply

If you’re eligible, you may not need to apply. Furthermore, the Ontario government is pre-screening businesses for eligibility verification. Keep an eye out for communication from the government about the $10,000 grant if you’re an established, eligible organization.

Newly formed and eligible businesses will need to apply. The application portal has not opened yet but will become available in the upcoming weeks.

In terms of payment, eligible small businesses can expect to receive the $10,000 in February.

Electricity-rate relief

The new financial support also includes electricity-rate relief. This support will be available to small businesses as well as workers and families spending more time at home due to COVID-19. To clarify, starting on January 18, 2022, for 21 days electricity prices will be set 24 hours at the current off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour. This is less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate.

However, businesses and individuals do not need to apply for electricity-rate relief. The off-peak rate will automatically apply to residential, small businesses and farms. Therefore, keep an eye out for the reduced rate starting on January 18th.

What are some other COVID-19 relief programs available to people?

If you’re not eligible for the new Ontario COVID benefits, there are other options available.

For businesses

➢   Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program. A rebate payment for a portion of property tax and energy costs incurred while subject to recent closures and reduced capacity. Depending on your business, you will receive either 50% or 100% of the costs. Payments are retroactive to December 19, 2021. Applications are now open, apply now if you’re eligible.

➢   Cash flow support. Additionally, the Ontario government is providing a 6-month interest and penalty-free period to make payments towards provincially administered taxes. This includes Ontario taxes like Employer Health Tax, Insurance Premium Tax, Mining Tax and so on. The 6-month period began on January 1, 2022, and will end on July 1, 2022.

➢   Federal government relief programs. Additionally, you may be eligible for financial support programs offered by the Government of Canada as well. For example, wage subsidy and rent support. Please visit the federal government’s economic response plan for more information.

For individuals

➢   Canada Worker Lockdown Benefit. If you’re unable to work due to temporary, local closures, this support provides $300 a week. The benefit is available between October 24, 2021, and May 7, 2022.

➢   Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit. This benefit is available to people who are unable to work because they contracted COVID-19 are self-isolated related to COVID-19, or have underlying conditions that make them more susceptible to COVID-19. If eligible, you’ll receive $500 ($450 after withheld taxes) per week. The maximum you can claim is 6 weeks.

➢   Other financial relief. Consequently, you may be eligible for other municipal government, Ontario government or federal government support. Employment Insurance (EI) may also be available to you. Be sure to read through the criteria and apply for what you’re eligible for.

Adapting Financially

The pandemic situation is evolving every day. Additionally, certain businesses and individuals must adapt financially. As a result, governments at all levels recognize the monetary strain of closures. They are providing income support where they see fit. Be sure to look into the Ontario Covid benefits you’re eligible for and apply. Therefore, if at any point you’re struggling with your finances, Consolidated Credit can help. Reach out today for assistance!

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