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Support for Businesses

The City recognizes the economic consequences of the pandemic response are going to be significant, and businesses – both large and small – will bear a heavy burden. To provide assistance, there are resources available from different levels of government and a variety of organizations, and this page will be updated regularly as more information becomes available; including details about direct business support programs and helpful links/resources.

The City has also established a hotline (705-574-1230) and email address (businessinfo@cityssm.on.ca) as a means of providing further assistance. Businesses can contact the hotline between the hours of 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Community Enhancement Program

The Community Enhancement Program is designed to help build strong and resilient Northern communities through infrastructure investments, to upgrade / repair existing assets to improve community quality of life, economic development infrastructure and strategic economic development initiatives. The 3 streams are: Enhance Your Community Program, Rural Enhancement Funding Stream, and Broadband and Cellular Expansion Projects.

For more information and to apply, visit: nohfc.ca/en/pages/programs/community-enhancement-program.

Cultural Supports Program Program

The Cultural Supports Program is designed to help showcase Northern Ontario culture, geography and talent through event partnerships and the production of films and television series. The 2 streams are: Community Events Stream and Film and Television Stream.

For a list of eligible projects and to apply, visit nohfc.ca/en/pages/programs/cultural-supports-program.

INVEST North Program

The Invest North Program is designed to boost economic growth in Northern Ontario by encouraging businesses to invest in transformative, strategic and complementary business development opportunities in Northern communities. The program will support productivity, innovation, business competitiveness, revenue growth, export capacity development, job creation and retention. The 6 streams are: Innovation Stream, Innovation – Industrial Research Chair, Investment - Launch Stream, Investment – Grow Stream, Investment – Locate Stream, and Regional Tile Drainage.

For a list of eligible projects and to apply, visit nohfc.ca/en/pages/programs/invest-north-program.

People and Talent Program

The People and Talent Program is designed to attract, retain and develop Northern Ontario’s workforce. The two streams are: Indigenous Workforce Development Stream and Workforce Development Stream.

For more information and to apply, visit: nohfc.ca/en/pages/programs/people-talent-program.

Main Street Relief Grant for PPE

To be eligible, your business must have two to nine employees and be in one of the following sectors:

  • retail
  • accommodation and food services
  • repair and maintenance
  • personal and laundry services
  • gyms and yoga studios

Eligible small businesses will get one-time grants of up to $1,000. To apply, visit app.grants.gov.on.ca/msrf/#/.

Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebate Grant

Businesses that are, or were, required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to provincial public health measures can apply for rebates, provided in the form of grants, to help with their fixed costs. Businesses struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19 may also be eligible for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (OEB.ca), which you can apply to through your utility provider.

Funding will cover the entire length of time that regionally targeted public health restrictions are in place. For a list of eligible businesses and to apply, visit app.grants.gov.on.ca/msrf/#/

Ontario Small Business Support Grant

The new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will help small businesses that are required to close or significantly restrict services under the new Provincewide Shutdown. Starting at $10,000 for all eligible businesses, the grant will provide businesses with dollar for dollar funding to a maximum of $20,000 to help cover decreased revenue expected as a result of the Provincewide Shutdown. Businesses will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for them. For example, some businesses will use the support to pay employee wages, while others will need support maintaining their inventory.

For a list of eligible projects and to apply today, visit /www.ontario.ca/page/businesses-get-help-covid-19-costs. To apply for the grant, visit app.grants.gov.on.ca/msrf/#/

Millworks Business Resilience and Recovery Program

We are seeing that many area business owners are pivoting their strategies and operations to navigate through the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic. As such, the Millworks – Centre for Entrepreneurship has launched a micro-grant program to allow small businesses access to professional services in order to get the assistance they need. This micro-grant can be utilized by Algoma region businesses for retaining third party approved consultants.

For a list of eligible projects and to apply today, visit themillworks.ca/business-resilience-recovery-program/

Federal and Provincial Programming Fall Updates

Government of Canada introduces legislation for new, targeted support to help businesses through pandemic (CRB)

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. On November 2, the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, introduced Bill C-9, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), which would implement new, targeted support to help hard-hit businesses. These measures are designed to 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. As previously announced, the business supports include:

  • The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would 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 would 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. The government is proposing to allow claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ended October 24, 2020.
  • The new Lockdown Support, which would 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 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). Combined, this would 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 would continue to protect jobs by helping employers keep employees on the payroll and re-hire their workers. The wage subsidy would remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.

Canada Recovery Program (CRB)

Applications for the CRB will open on October 12, 2020.

The Canada Recovery Benefit is a federal program intended to replace the CERB for workers who are not eligible for EI. This is a $500 per week benefit that eligible applicants must reapply for every two weeks through the CRA. The CRB will be self-attestation based and available for up to 13 periods (two weeks each) and will run from September 27th, 2020 to September 25th, 2021.

Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB)

Applications are now being accepted for the CRSB. A $500 per week benefit for 2 weeks of sick leave or quarantine in the event that a worker does not have paid sick leave with their employer and has earned at least $5,000 in the past year. The CRSB is self-attestation based and available from September 27 until September 25, 2021, to assist those who have been unable to work for at least 50% of the time they would have otherwise worked in a week because they:

  • contracted or might have contracted COVID-19
  • they have underlying conditions that, in the opinion of a person of authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19, or they isolated themselves on the advice of their employer, or a person of authority for reasons related to COVID-19.
  • If the worker’s employer pays sick leave, the worker cannot access CRSB for those days paid by the employer. Please note that a medical certificate/doctor’s note will not be required to access the benefit.

Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB)

Applications are now being accepted for the CRCB. A $500 per week benefit for up to 26 weeks to help one claimant per household attend to a child under 12, family member, or dependent because schools, daycares, etc. are closed/operating at reduced capacity due to COVID-19. This benefit is not accessible to workers who choose to keep their dependent at home. This benefit is self-attestation based and available from September 27th, 2020 to September 25th, 2021.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

On April 16, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a new rent assistance program aimed at those with commercial properties for the months of April to September. This program will be provided through Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) to offer a forgivable loan to voluntary eligible landlords with eligible tenants. This forgivable loan will lower rent by 75% for eligible small businesses that have been impacted by COVID-19 and will prevent them from being evicted. Application period for July and August extended, deadline for extensions is October 31, 2020.

Canada Emergency Business Account (aka CEBA / 40k loans)

CEBA deadline for applications has been extended until October 31, 2020.

NOHFC Northern Ontario Recovery Program

The Northern Ontario Recovery Program is designed to help businesses adapt operations according to local public health guidelines, while protecting employees and customers.


Northern Ontario businesses with at least one year of operations as of March 17, 2020 and were impacted by the Province of Ontario Emergency Order that closed all non-essential businesses on March 24, 2020.

Funding will be in the form of a conditional contribution and will normally not exceed $25,000. NOHFC will cover 100% of eligible project costs. Applicants must demonstrate that the amount requested from NOHFC is incremental and does not duplicate other supports received.

Fednor Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

Expanded Program commenced October 2, 2020 and added an additional $22.3M to continue the program.

PPE Suppliers Directory


Financial Relief

Until October 31, 2020 time-of-use Regulated Price Plan customers will pay a COVID-19 Recovery Rate of 12.8¢/kWh 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Pausing commercial evictions

The government is temporarily stopping or reversing evictions of commercial tenants and protecting them from being locked out or having their assets seized during COVID-19. This applies to businesses that are eligible for federal/provincial rent assistance, for evictions from May 1, 2020.

Deferring contributions

If you're an employer who sponsors certain defined benefit pension plans, you can defer pension contributions due between October 1, 2020 and March 31, 2021. You must file an application (called an "election") and pay deferred contributions, with interest and following a set schedule, by March 31, 2022.

Employer Health Tax Relief

The Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption has increased for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million.If you have already filed a final or special return for 2020 the ministry will be reviewing all 2020 Employer Health Tax relief returns and correcting the returns for the new exemption level.

Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit

If your corporation is building, renovating or acquiring an eligible commercial or industrial building in a designated region in Ontario, you may be eligible to claim a tax credit of up to $45,000 in a year. The tax credit will be available to claim on your corporate income tax return.

Sault Ste. Marie Reopening Reference Document

The reopening document is a live linked document to all the necessary sites to assist you with your reopening efforts, and it can be accessed by visiting: saulttogether.ca/pages/information-for-reopening-ontario.

Canada Wage Subsidy for Employers

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is a subsidy that was initially available for a period of twelve weeks, retroactive from March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020, that provided a subsidy of 75% paid by eligible employers to each eligible employee – up to a maximum of $847 per week.

The Government has extended the CEWS for an additional twenty-four weeks to November 21, 2020. For the first sixteen weeks (from March 15, 2020 to July 4, 2020), eligible employers that see a drop of at least 15% of their qualifying revenue in March 2020 and 30% for the following months of April, May and June, when compared to their qualifying revenue for the same period in 2019 (or the average of January and February 2020, in some circumstances), qualify for the wage subsidy. Special rules apply for certain other employers. For the following twenty weeks (from July 5, 2020 to November 21, 2020), the wage subsidy has been modified to be available for all eligible employers that experience a decline in revenue for a claim period, with a base wage subsidy amount, and an additional top-up wage subsidy amount for those employers that have been most adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis. Further, for the fifth and sixth periods, an eligible employer can calculate their wage subsidy in certain circumstances, under the rules that apply to the first four periods if the result is more favourable (safe harbour rule). To learn more, visit: canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-wage-subsidy.html.

COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Businesses

The Government of Ontario is making $8 million available to support small business and registered charities who are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of COVID-19. The COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB) provides a one time, on-bill credit to eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments.

To apply for CEAP funding, customers should contact their energy provider. Electricity and natural gas utilities and unit sub-meter providers (USMPs) will begin accepting applications for CEAP-SB on August 31, 2020, delivering the program in accordance with rules laid out by the OEB. CEAP-SB funding is limited, with utilities and USMPs expected to process applications in the order in which they are received. Please note, submitting an application does not guarantee funding.

For more information, including eligibility requirements and on-bill credit amounts, visit: oeb.ca/ceapa.

Masking Signage

Clear signs and messages can help promote safe behaviours, and Algoma Public Health has made available outward and indoor signage, along with staff related signs. To learn more, visit: algomapublichealth.com/disease-and-illness/infectious-diseases/novel-coronavirus/business-posters.

Recovery Benefits (Replacing CERB)

The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) will provide eligible workers with $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to 26 weeks for those who are not employed or self-employed due to COVID-19 and who are not eligible for EI, or had their employment/self-employment income reduced by at least 50% due to COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in two-week periods

To learn more, visit: canada.ca/en/revenue agency/services/benefits/recovery-benefit.html.

The Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) will provide $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to 26 weeks per household for workers unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19, or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine or is at high risk of serious health implications because of COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in one-week periods.

To learn more, visit: canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-caregiving-benefit.html.

The Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) will provide $500 per week (taxable, tax deducted at source) for up to a maximum of two weeks, for workers who are unable to work for at least 50% of the week because they contracted COVID-19, self-isolated for reasons related to COVID-19, or have underlying conditions, are undergoing treatments or have contracted other sicknesses that, in the opinion of a medical practitioner, nurse practitioner, person in authority, government or public health authority, would make them more susceptible to COVID-19. This benefit will be paid in one-week periods.

To learn more, visit: canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/benefits/recovery-sickness-benefit.html.

Canada Emergency Business Account

The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free loans of up to $60,000 for eligible small businesses and not-for-profit organizations experiencing revenue reductions. The CEBA loan program was increased in December 2020 to $60,000 from an earlier cap of $40,000. New applicants may be eligible for the full amount while existing account holders can request the expansion of $20,000.

All applications for the program, new or expansion, are open until March 31, 2021. To learn more, visit: ceba-cuec.ca.

Reopening Business Reference Guide

To ensure the safety of our community and help you navigate the new normal, City staff have created a Reopening Business the “Smart, Safe and Responsible Way” document. The comprehensive protocols are from the Federal/Provincial governments and Algoma Public Health, and have been compiled in one document as the Province sets out its path in its re-opening efforts. The guidelines in this document will help you safely serve your customers and accommodate your employees. This resource will act as a living document that we will update as this fluid situation changes.

To access the document, visit: saultstemarie.ca/Cityweb/media/About-SSM/Reopening-Reference-Guide-SSM.pdf.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) will support vulnerable businesses and eligible not-for-profit organizations that are impacted by the economic disruption associated with the COVID-19 pandemic across the regions of Canada. Applicants are eligible to receive up to 100 percent of total eligible bridge support costs, covering up to a 12 month period.

Applications are now being accepted under two streams:

Regional Economy: This stream supports northern Ontario SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been declined for, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures. This fund will provide repayable and conditionally repayable contributions to eligible small and medium-sized enterprises, up a maximum of $250,000. Support to eligible not-for-profit organizations will be non-repayable. Delivered through FedNor in Northern Ontario. For more details or to apply, visit: fednor.gc.ca/eic/site/fednor-fednor.nsf/eng/fn04592.html.

Community Futures: This stream supports businesses in rural and smaller communities through additional funding for the existing Community Futures Program (CFP). In order to provide targeted assistance to the small towns and communities they serve, CFDCs, who will deliver this stream of funding, will focus on assisting “main street” businesses, such as retail shops, restaurants and corner stores, etc., and businesses of strategic importance to their communities, with loans up to $40,000. Please apply directly through the Community Development Corporation of Sault Ste. Marie and Area for funding.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility

The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) provides bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, whose needs during the pandemic are not being met through conventional financing, in order to keep their operations going.

The LEEFF program is open to large Canadian employers who (a) have a significant impact on Canada’s economy, as demonstrated by (i) having significant operations in Canada or (ii) supporting a significant workforce in Canada; (b) can generally demonstrate approximately $300 million or more in annual revenues; and (c) require a minimum loan size of about $60 million.

This program is delivered by the Canada Development Investment Corporation (CDEV), in cooperation with Innovation, Science and Economic Development Canada (ISED) and the Department of Finance. To learn more, visit: cdev.gc.ca/home-ceefc

Business Credit Availability Program

The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) is a standardized guarantee program offered by Export Development Canada (EDC) in response to COVID-19. Through the BCAP, Export Development Canada (EDC) is working with financial institutions to guarantee 80% of new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). This financing support is to be used for operational expenses and is available to both exporting and non-exporting companies.

This program is now available at various banks and credit unions. This support is available until June 2021. To learn more, visit: edc.ca/en/solutions/working-capital/bcap-guarantee.html.

Information for Reopening Ontario

A collection of links to assist businesses in reopening is available on the Sault Together website. The information will help businesses safely serve customers and accommodate employees. This resource will act as a living document that staff will update as this fluid situation changes.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) is for Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic that 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. To learn more, visit: canada.ca/en/revenue-agency/services/subsidy/emergency-rent-subsidy.html.

Launch of #SaultTogether

The City of Sault Ste. Marie is supporting local businesses through the COVID-19 pandemic by creating the Sault Together website (www.saulttogether.ca) to profile businesses that remain open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Please visit the website to find business that remain open during this time.

Local business impact survey

The City of Sault Ste. Marie and the Algoma Workforce Investment Corporation have designed a monthly survey to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on local businesses and organizations during and beyond the COVID–19 crisis. Your feedback will help us communicate directly to municipal, provincial and federal governments your needs in a timely and coordinated manner, and help us as we plan for post-crisis recovery.

To review the Fall 2020 survey results, visit: the AWIC website.

Small business webinars

As we continue to navigate through our current situation, we recognize the importance of continuing to support small businesses with the resources they need to help them stabilize and grow.

Please keep up with available free webinars to keep you learning, growing, and adapting through this time of change by visiting: themillworks.ca/covid-19-small-business-support.

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99 Foster Drive
Sault Ste. Marie, ON
P6A 5X6