Co-authored by Monique Murray, Summer Student and Jiang Nan (Edward) Deng, Summer Student

As described in our initial blog post, COVID-19 Pandemic-Related Economic Stimulus for Canadian Businesses, published on April 8 and our update posts, published on April 16, April 24 and May 22, the Canadian federal government and most provincial and territorial governments have introduced programs designed to provide funding or economic relief to Canadian businesses in connection with the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Since our most recent publication, a number of new programs have been announced. A summary table with all COVID-19 pandemic-related Canadian business funding announced to date is included at the end of this blog.

Please note that this series of blogs generally does not address tax deferrals or employment subsidies. For more information on these programs and any other COVID-19-related queries, please contact the authors of this blog or visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre

New Federal Funding

Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund

On April 25, 2020, the Department of Fisheries and Oceans Canada announced the Canadian Seafood Stabilization Fund. This $62.5-million fund is intended to support the fish and seafood processing sector by helping businesses access short-term financing to: (i) pay for maintenance and inventory costs; (ii) add storage capacity for unsold product; (iii) comply with new health and safety measures; (iv) support new technologies to improve productivity and quality of finished seafood products; and (v) adapt products to changing requirements and new market demands.

Eligible recipients include fish and seafood processing businesses and not-for profit organizations supporting the sector. Recipients will receive financial support with COVID-19-related costs incurred after March 15, 2020. 

The funds are delivered through three Regional Development Offices:

Interested businesses should apply through their specific Regional Development Office.

COVID-19 Economic Response Plan: Support Programs for Indigenous Businesses

On April 18, 2020, the federal government unveiled a $306.8-million support program for Indigenous business administered through the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association (NACCA) and Métis capital corporations in partnership with Indigenous Service Canada. Eligible businesses will receive up to $40,000 in funding, comprising a $30,000 repayable interest-free loan and a $10,000 non-repayable contribution.

The NACCA will work with various Aboriginal Financial Institutions to provide funds to eligible small- and medium-sized businesses. The funding is intended for businesses to address immediate liquidity needs from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Interested Indigenous businesses should apply through their local Aboriginal Financial Institution.

Emergency Processing Fund

On May 5, 2020, the Government of Canada launched an up to $77.5-million Emergency Processing Fund to help food producers access more personal protective equipment, adapt to health protocols, automate or modernize their facilities, processes and operations, and respond to emerging pressures from COVID-19. The Fund aims to help businesses invest to improve and automate facilities needed to increase Canada's food supply. Recipients will receive up to $5 million in non-repayable funding for emergency COVID-19 response activities and/or repayable funding for strategic investments.

Eligible recipients consist of for-profit organizations incorporated in Canada and operating in the food space, including cooperatives and Indigenous groups. Seafood processing and manufacturing organizations are ineligible. There are two objectives for eligible activities: (i) emergency COVID-19 response (such as adjusting to added public health protocols and requirements); and (ii) strategic investments (such as improvements of food processing or manufacturing facilities). Eligible activities under the first objective have initial priority for funding under the program and are funded with non-repayable contributions. Eligible activities under the second objective are funded with repayable contributions. Eligible activities can be retroactive to March 15, 2020, and must be completed by September 30, 2020.

Applications can be submitted online.

Futurpreneur Canada

Futurpreneur Canada is a national, non-profit organization that provides financing, mentoring and support tools to entrepreneurs aged 18 to 39. The Government of Canada is providing $20.1 million in funding to Futurpreneur to support young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. The funding will be used by Futurpreneur to provide payment relief for its existing clients for up to 12 months.

Local Food Infrastructure Fund

The Government of Canada has implemented the Local Food Infrastructure Fund (LFIF), a five-year, $50-million initiative running until March 31, 2024. The goal of the LFIF program is to strengthen food systems and to facilitate safe and nutritious food for at-risk populations, particularly those who are experiencing food insecurity due to COVID-19. For the purposes of the LFIF, the following groups of Canadians are at risk of food insecurity:

  • Indigenous;
  • persons who are homeless or street-involved;
  • low-income households;
  • isolated and rural communities;
  • persons with disabilities;
  • other groups with social or employment barriers including literacy and numeracy;
  • newcomers to Canada (including refugees);
  • visible minorities;
  • women;
  • youth;
  • seniors;
  • LGBTQ2 community;
  • official language minority communities; and
  • others.

Eligible applicants consist of not-for-profit organizations that have been in operation for at least two years. In addition, applicants must demonstrate the ability to maintain the proposed operations beyond the funding period. Indigenous groups are also eligible to apply. Eligible projects are infrastructure-specific, community-driven and dedicated to improving access to safe and healthy foods for Canadians at risk of food insecurity.

Applicants can apply by filling out and submitting the applicable forms on the Government of Canada's website.

Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program

The Government of Canada is providing $50 million to help farmers, fish harvesters, and food production and processing employers put in place the measures necessary to follow the mandatory 14-day isolation period required of all workers arriving from abroad. The Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program provides support of $1,500 to employers for each temporary foreign worker to ensure isolation requirements are fully met. The funding is conditional on employers complying with the mandatory isolation requirements and other applicable regulations. The $50-million investment will be available until fully depleted.

To be eligible, employers must be in the farming, fish harvesting and food production and processing sectors. Eligible activities include the following: 

  • wages and benefits of the temporary foreign workers during the mandatory 14-day isolation period;
  • off-site accommodations during the mandatory 14-day isolation period;
  • transportation to and from off-site accommodations required during the mandatory 14-day isolation period;
  • food or a food allowance during the mandatory 14-day isolation period;
  • health and safety supplies such as gloves, masks, hand sanitizer, disinfectant cleaners and soaps required for the mandatory 14-day isolation period; and
  • other incremental costs directly associated to the 14-day mandatory isolation period imposed on temporary foreign workers under the Quarantine Act.

Applicants may apply online before August 31, 2020, or until funding has been fully committed.

Mid-Market Financing Program

In addition to the previously announced Business Credit Availability Program, Business Development Canada announced the Mid-Market Financing Program on May 11, 2020, which was subsequently merged with the previously announced Oil & Gas Financing Program to facilitate coordination and processing of loan requests.

The new Program will provide commercial loans between $12.5 million and $60 million to medium-sized businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic or the recent decline in oil and gas prices and will address borrowers' operational liquidity needs and continuity activities. The Mid-Market Financing Program will be available through the borrower's primary financial institution.

Businesses with annual revenues in excess of $100 million to $500 million are qualified to apply, subject to additional criteria, including that the borrower must: (i) have been financially stable and viable prior to the current economic environment; and (ii) have credit needs that exceed what is already available through the co-lending program and other measures.

Eligible businesses can fill out the online form here.

Surplus Food Rescue Program

The Government of Canada launched the Surplus Food Rescue Program with an initial $50-million fund designed to help redistribute existing and unsold inventories to local food organizations serving vulnerable Canadians. It aims to provide an opportunity for non-profit and for-profit organizations across the supply chain to bid on significant volumes of surplus products at or below the cost of production, processing them where necessary for longer shelf life and distributing to food serving agencies. Applicants may be eligible to receive a maximum grant of $20 million. Project activities must be completed by September 30, 2020.

Eligible applicants consist of not-for-profit and for-profit organizations, including Indigenous groups, charitable organizations, regional and municipal governments and agencies and cooperatives. Eligible projects are those that handle the full logistical requirements needed to move surplus commodities through the entire value chain as quickly, efficiently, and cost-effectively as possible. Projects must be able to cover the essential steps of acquiring product at wholesale cost, processing, transporting as well as ensuring the shelf-life stability of surplus products, resulting in the least amount of food waste.

Applicants should consult and follow the steps provided on the federal government's website. Applications will be accepted until funds are either fully committed or until July 31, 2020, whichever is earlier. 

New Ontario Funding

Digital Main Street

Digital Main Street was created by the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas with support from the City of Toronto. The program helps Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence with a free portal and resources.

There are currently two active programs to support businesses: 

  • ShopHERE provides small businesses with a quick, easy and no-cost method to sell their products online. Participants sign up to ShopHERE and receive a free, customized online store from Shopify, along with assistance, training and tools to support their online store.
  • The Digital Transformation Grant Program provides main street businesses with a grant of up to $2,500 to adopt and implement technologies. The objective of this program is to provide business owners with a comprehensive plan to guide their digital transformation. 

Interested businesses should visit Digital Main Street's website for more details.

Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program

The Ontario Government is investing up to $15 million to expand the Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program. The program is intended to support the agri-food sector and better protect workers during the COVID-19 outbreak by providing cost-sharing funding to farmers and other operations to help enhance health and safety measures for employees. The program will also support producers and other operations that provide off-farm primary packing services that experience unexpected costs for short-term accommodation and transportation due to COVID-19 impacts on their operations.

Eligible businesses include established farm businesses that are legal entities and produce agricultural commodities in Ontario under a valid Farm Business Registration Number, Ontario legal entities providing off-farm primary packing services and Ontario legal entities providing corn detasseling services. The Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program specifies eligible activities to address immediate health and safety issues directly related to COVID-19 response and eligible expenses required to implement the eligible activities. The funding covers 70 percent of eligible expenses, to a maximum of $7,500 per business or property.

Interested businesses should complete a submission form available online.

Enhanced Insurance Protection

The federal and Ontario governments are working together to enhance the AgriInsurance coverage for the 2020 growing season to include COVID-19-related labor shortages. Ontario farmers already enrolled in an eligible production insurance plan who suffer from crop losses due to labour disruptions will have access to further insurance coverage through Agricorp. The added coverage includes: (i) an inability to attract sufficient on-farm labor due to COVID-19 and (ii) illness or quarantine of on-farm labour and the producer due to COVID-19. Ontario farmers are expected to notify Agricorp as soon as possible if they are experiencing these labour-related disruptions.

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board

Ontario's Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) has introduced a financial relief package in response to COVID-19, allowing businesses to defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020, on an interest-free and penalty-free basis. Businesses that report and pay monthly, quarterly or annually based on their insurable earnings are eligible for this deferral.

All businesses covered by the WSIB's workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial package. No action is required from businesses to receive this financial relief.

Upcoming Federal Funding

Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program

Export Development Canada's Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program will guarantee up to 75 percent of new operating credit and cash-flow loans for eligible businesses, for loans ranging from $16.75 million to $80 million. The program is intended to provide liquidity to companies with revenues of between $50 million and $300 million to sustain operations during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional details regarding this program are being finalized and are anticipated to be made available soon. 

We will continue to provide updates as further programs are made available and additional details are released. If your business or organization has questions in respect of COVID-19 funding-related matters, please contact the authors of this blog. In particular, please contact one of our AgriBusiness, Food and Beverage group members, including Murray Coleman, Kelly Ford, Julia Schatz and Ted Shoub, or visit the Agribusiness, Food & Beverage page, if you have any questions relating to the agribusiness initiatives.

Please visit our COVID-19 Resource Centre for other COVID-19 related resources.

Summary Table

Jurisdiction Program  Funding Maximum  Funding Type  Size of Business (if applicable)  Other Requirements* 
Federal Programs
Federal BDC Capital Bridge Financing Program Case-by-case Convertible Note n/a
Federal BDC Mid-Market Financing Program $60,000,000 Loan Medium
Federal BDC New Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises $6,250,000 Loan Small/ Medium
Federal Boosted Support from Farm Credit Canada $500,000 Line of Credit n/a Part of agri-business industry
Federal Canada Emergency Business Account $40,000 Loan Small
Federal Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance $75,000 Loan/Forgivable Loan n/a Commercial landlord
Federal COVID-19 Development Stimulus Fund $25,000 Grant n/a 51% Indigenous ownership and part of tourism industry
Federal Digital Technology Supercluster COVID-19 Program $5,000,000 Grant n/a Member of Supercluster
Federal EDC Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program $80,000,000 Loan Guarantee n/a Revenues between $50 and $300 million
Federal Emergency Processing Fund $5,000,000 Grant n/a Food producers and processors
Federal Export Development Canada New Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium Enterprises $6,250,000 Loan/loan guarantee Small/Medium Part of exports industry
Federal Futurpreneur Canada $20,000 Loan Start-ups
Federal Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility $60,000,000 and more Loan Large
Federal Local Food Infrastructure Fund Case-by-case Grant n/a Food infrastructure
Federal Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program $1,500 Grant n/a Farmers, fish harvesters, food processors
Federal National Research Council of Canada's Industrial Research Assistance Program Case-by-case Grant Small/Medium
Federal Next Generation Manufacturing Canada Supercluster $5,000,000 Grant n/a Member of Supercluster
Federal Northern Business Relief Fund $100,000 Grant Small/Medium Based in Yukon, NWT or Nunavut
Federal NRC Canada Innovation Assistance Program Case-by-case Grant Small/Medium
Federal Regional Development Agencies Funding Case-by-case Loan Small/Medium Part of tourism industry
Federal Regional Relief and Recovery Fund Case-by-Case Loan/Forgivable Loan Small/Medium
Federal Seafood Stabilization Fund Case-by-case Grant n/a Based in Western provinces, Québec, or Atlantic Canada
Federal Support Programs for Indigenous Businesses $40,000 Loan/Forgivable Loan Small/Medium
Federal Surplus Food Rescue Program $20,000,000 Grant n/a Food logistics
Provincial Programs
British Columbia Emergency Relief Funds Program $5,000 Grant n/a 51% Indigenous ownership and part of tourism industry
British Columbia Small Business Working Capital Loans $25,000 Loan Small Based in Columbia Basin Trust region
Saskatchewan Small Business Emergency Payment Program $5,000 Grant Small/ Medium
Manitoba Gap Protection Program $6,000 Loan/Grant Small/ Medium
Ontario Digital Main Street Case-by-case Grant Small
Ontario Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program Case-by-case Grant n/a Agri-food sector
Ontario Enhanced Insurance Protection Case-by-case Insurance n/a Farmers
Ontario Ontario Together Fund Case-by-case Grant n/a
Ontario Workplace Safety and Insurance Board Case-by-case Payment Deferral n/a
Québec Exceptional Support Measures for Small Businesses $300,000 Loan Small/Medium Based in the Papineau-Collines region
Québec Concerted Temporary Action Program for Businesses $50,000 Loan/loan guarantee n/a
Québec Emergency Aid for Small- and Medium-Sized Business $50,000 Loan Small/Medium
New Brunswick COVID-19 Working Capital Loans $1,000,000 Loan n/a
New Brunswick Small Business Emergency Working Capital Program $100,000 Loan Small/Medium
Prince Edward Island Emergency Working Capital Financing $100,000 Loan Small
Nova Scotia Small Business Impact Grant $5,000 Grant Small
Territorial Programs
Yukon Business Relief Program $60,000 Grant n/a
Northwest Territories Business Development and Investment Corporation - Working Capital Loans $25,000 Loan Small/Medium
Nunavut Small Business Support Program $5,000 Grant Small

*Unless otherwise indicated, provincial and territorial programs are only available to businesses located in and operating in the applicable province or territory.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.