There is no doubt about it—last year has been a difficult one for small businesses in Ontario. With stay-at-home orders, reduced capacities, and a province-wide lockdown, many business owners have struggled to survive.
And while the vaccine rollout has begun, offering a glimmer of hope, there is still so much uncertainty in the air and small businesses can use all the support they can get.
Fortunately, the Ontario government has recognized the burden placed on small business owners over the course of the pandemic, and during the lockdown, in particular, offering assistance through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant.
Minister of Economic Development, Victor Fedeli, has said, “Our government recognizes that necessary COVID-19-related public health measures come at a cost to Ontario’s businesses, and will continue working hard on their behalf to ensure they get the support they need.” And with over 70,000 applicants between January 15 and February 3 alone, it is clear that this support is absolutely essential.
If you are a small business in Ontario and have faced financial hardship, here is everything you need to know about the Ontario Small Business Support Grant.
What is the Ontario Small Business Support Grant?
The Ontario Small Business Support Grant is a one-time grant that can provide small businesses with access to $10,000 up to $20,000. It was put in place specifically to help businesses that were forced to significantly reduce operations or close completely during the province-wide lockdown that began on December 26, 2020.
This grant is broad in its scope and will be accessible to a range of small businesses from retail to restaurants and personal care services.
Successful recipients will be able to use the funds in whatever way they choose. If your business needs help paying employee wages, you can use the funds to do just that. If help is needed to pay outstanding bills, ordering new inventory, or repositioning your operations to better suit your customers and clients, you can use the money to those ends as well.
This freedom will enable small businesses to recover and define future success in the way that makes the most sense to them.
As we know, no two businesses are alike and no two Ontario businesses have faced the exact same needs during this unprecedented period.
Who is Eligible for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant?
As with any grant or government assistance program, there are eligibility requirements.
The Ontario Small Business Support Grant is open to businesses that:
- Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level
- Can demonstrate that they have experienced a minimum of 20% revenue drop in April of 2020 compared to April 2019
- Are a new business, established after April 2019, but still meet the other eligibility criteria
- Were required to significantly reduce/restrict services or close completely due to the province-wide shutdown imposed by the Provincial Government on December 26, 2020.
Businesses that were not in operation in April 2019 or April 2020 will be able to select alternative months for revenue decline comparison when filling out the application.
Ineligible businesses include those that were already required to close prior to the modified Stage 2 measures enacted on October 20, 2020, as well as essential businesses that were permitted to stay open at a limited capacity, including:
- Discount on box stores selling groceries
- Convenience stores
- Grocery stores
- Beer, wine, and liquor stores
Most businesses will require a CRA business number in order to apply. If you do not have a CRA business number, you will need to obtain one before you can complete the application process. Indigenous-owned small businesses will be able to apply for the grant without a business number by using a dedicated application form that can be found on the application portal.
All businesses applying for the grant will need to have gathered information about lost revenues and available employee numbers as they will have to attest to the details presented in their application.
While the stay-at-home order has now been lifted in all parts of the province, some areas like Toronto and Peel remain in grey lockdown status. This means that some small businesses are able to reopen in a limited capacity.
It is worth noting that eligible small businesses are able to apply for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant until March 31, 2021.
How to Apply for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant
Fortunately, applying for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant is relatively easy.
If your business meets the eligibility criteria, and you have gathered all of the relevant information, you can fill out an online application through the Provincial Government’s application portal.
This portal allows businesses to apply for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant as well as the Main Street Relief Grant for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), and Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebate Grants all with the same, single, application.
If you have previously submitted an application for the PPE grant or the property tax and energy grant, you can click to resume your application, by entering the authorization number you have been sent as well as your CRA number. From there, check off the requirements for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and the information for that grant will be added to your application.
If you have an application draft that was started prior to January 14, 2021, when the Ontario Small Business Support Grant was announced, you will either have to cancel or complete the application. Once the draft is completed, you can then resume the application and add your eligibility for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant.
Once the application has been completed, you can check its status here.
Upon approval, small businesses can expect to receive their funds within 10 business days.
The Ontario Government has reported a high volume of applications and approval may be delayed slightly so patience is required. Businesses that have provided incomplete or incorrect information on their applications can expect to experience delays as they are submitted for additional review.
Let WTC Help!
With the application deadline fast approaching, you may need additional support looking at your books, accessing your financial need, and demonstrating your decline in revenue.
Whether you are looking for bookkeeping, payroll support, accounting set up, or help with corporate taxes, WTC has the knowledge and the understanding to support your business through this difficult time and help you achieve success in the future!