By MPP Toby Barrett
Small business is the backbone of our economy. Since the pandemic started last March my office has been hearing from those impacted. That’s why our government has invested so much in supporting small business to get through these times.
Tightened restrictions and shutdown were put in place to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario.
Applications for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant opened recently. The grant provides between $10,000 and $20,000 to eligible businesses who have had to restrict their operations due to the provincewide shutdown.
Grant money can be used for whatever makes the most sense for a particular business.
Eligible small businesses include those that:
- Were required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26.
- Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level.
- Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019. New businesses established since April 2019 will also be eligible if they meet the other eligibility criteria.
The latest grant is one of many that have been rolled out to assist this valued sector.
Main street businesses that incurred costs associated with COVID-19 safety measures can also apply for the Main Street Covid Relief Grant to cover the costs. The grant will cover up to $1,000 for the costs of personal protective equipment for eligible businesses. Small businesses with two to nine employees in the retail, accommodations, food services, repair and maintenance and personal care are eligible.
Businesses that are, or were, required to shut down or significantly restrict services due to public health measures can apply for rebates, to help with fixed costs, such as municipal and education property taxes.
Those small businesses struggling to pay energy bills as a result of COVID-19 may also be eligible for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB), through utility providers.
All small businesses that are eligible for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant are also eligible for these property tax and energy bill rebates.
Outside of the energy support program, Ontario is helping to keep the cost of energy low for families, small businesses and farmers by keeping electricity rates affordable and providing customers with more choice and energy assistance programs. Eligible customers automatically received a 33.2 per cent savings off their energy bill when new electricity rates for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) customers came into effect November 1, 2020. Residential prices were reduced to off-peak pricing effective Jan. 1 to assist with families staying at home. This also helps home-based business.
Government isn’t just helping through grant programs. I recently spoke in the Legislature to support Bill 215, the Main Street Recovery Act. This law will modernize regulations and remove unnecessary and costly barriers to help more small businesses recover from the economic effects of COVID-19 – and prepare them for new opportunities.
I encourage every eligible small business owner in Ontario to visit Ontario.ca/COVIDSupport to access the support our government has made available. While we still have a lot of work ahead of us, we can all look confidently to the future as we resolve to do our part and put COVID-19 behind us.
Toby Barrett is MPP for Haldimand-Norfolk