The WindsorEssex Small Business Centre is assessing the impact of COVID-19 on our clients and local economy, and we are in the process of compiling actions to help businesses mitigate the current situation. The resources provided on our website will be updated regularly and are intended to provide business owners with available government and community supports. Please visit the WindsorEssex Economic Development Corporation website for additional COVID-19 updates and resources. 

Reopening Ontario during COVID-19

Ontario is entering a provincewide lockdown beginning December 26, 2020. Windsor-Essex has already been in the grey lockdown zone since December 14, 2020. Learn more about personal and business restrictions during the lockdown from the Ministry of Health. Read the COVID-19 Response Framework for details on COVID-19 zones and the corresponding business guidelines and restrictions. The City of Windsor has also released a COVID-19 Small Business Action Plan detailing its mesaures to support local businesses.

Resources to prevent COVID-19 in the workplace

Before your business reopens, review the Government of Ontario's sector-specific guidelines and posters to help protect workers, customers and the general public from COVID-19 in Ontario. The government has also created a Workplace PPE Supplier Directory to identify personal protective equipment (PPE) and supplies to keep your employees and customers safe. Windsor-Essex County Health Unit has also released a COVID-19 Toolkit for Small Businesses to Safely Reopen.

The Ontario government is providing employers with a new general workplace guide, which will help them develop a COVID-19 Workplace Safety Plan to better protect workers, customers and clients. The downloadable toolkit offers tips on how to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 as more people get back on the job during Stage 2 of the reopening of the province. The guide is accompanied by a template that employers can fill in to develop their own unique COVID-19 safety plan.


Government Support for Businesses & Workers



Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Eligible small businesses can receive a 75 per cent wage subsidy for employees. The subsidy applies to the first $58,700 in salary earned for a maximum of $847 a week. Eligible companies must have suffered at least a 15 per cent revenue loss as a result of COVID-19 (in March; 30 per cent or greater loss in April and May), and include those already eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities. Businesses can benefit immediately by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration. The wage subsidy will be backdated to March 15. CEWS was original set to expire at the end of June, however the Government of Canada has announced that the subsidy will be extended until December 19, 2020. 

Effective July 5, 2020, the CEWS would consist of two parts:

  • a base subsidy available to all eligible employers that are experiencing a decline in revenues, with the subsidy amount varying depending on the scale of revenue decline; and
  • a top-up subsidy of up to an additional 25 per cent for those employers that have been most adversely affected by the COVID-19 crisis.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

Additional CEWS details from the Department of Finance

Changes to CEWS announced July 2020

Canada Summer Jobs Program

Small businesses can hire and keep the workers they need so they can continue to deliver essential services.

Temporary changes to the program this year include:
  • An increase to the wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent of the provincial minimum hourly wage for each employee
  • An extension to the end date for employment to Feb. 28, 2021
  • Allowing employers to adapt their projects and job activities to support essential services
  • Allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis

Canada Summer Jobs

Student Work Placement Program

Student Work Placement Program provides wage subsidies to employers that offer post-secondary students paid work experience related to their field of study.

  • Up to $5,000 for every student hired through the program
  • Up to $7,000 for every student hired that is in their first academic year or is from an under-represented group including women in STEM, persons with disabilities, newcomers and Indigenous students

Changes to the program until March 31, 2021 include:

  • Post-secondary institutions now qualify as SWPP employer partners.
  • Employer partners will have the flexibility to postpone the start date of work placements to avoid rescinding placements.
  • Work placements may be shorter than 12 weeks.
  • Remote working may now qualify as suitable work-integrated learning experience.
  • Small and medium-sized employers and not-for-profit organizations may qualify to receive a percentage of the total wage subsidy (per student per term) as soon as the student(s) start their work placement, if there is an operational cash flow need.

Student Work Placement Program

Youth Employment and Skills Program

The Government of Canada is providing $9.2 million to enhance the Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP) and fund up to 700 new positions for youth in the agriculture industry. This additional funding will help the agriculture industry attract Canadian youth, ages 15 to 30, to their organizations to assist with labour shortages brought on by the pandemic. This program aims to provide youth, and particularly youth facing barriers to employment, with job experience in agriculture that will provide career-related work experience.

The YESP will provide agriculture employers up to 50 per cent of the cost of hiring a Canadian youth up to $14,000. Indigenous applicants and those applicants hiring a youth facing barriers are eligible for funding of up to 80 per cent of their costs.

Eligible applicants include producers, agri-businesses, industry associations, provincial and territorial governments, Indigenous organizations and research facilities. Employers may apply for this funding retroactive to April 1, 2020, with projects to be completed by March 31, 2021.

Youth Employment and Skills Program





EI Eligible

The one-week waiting period for sickness benefits is removed for those who have been told to self-isolate or quarantine. Applicants can be paid for the first week of their claim. The maximum amount paid out for EI is $573 a week.

EI Ineligible (includes self-employed)

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)- Taxable benefit providing $2,000 a month for up to four months.

Who's eligible?

  • Canadians who have lost their job, are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures.
  • Wage earners, as well as contract workers and self-employed individuals who would not otherwise be eligible for EI.
  • Workers who are still employed, but are not receiving income because of disruptions to their work situation.

Changes to CERB eligibility also allows:

  • People to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB.
  • CERB to be extended to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their usual seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
  • CERB to be extended to workers who recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.
  • A temporary top-up to the salaries of workers deemed essential in the fight against COVID-19, who make less than $2,500 a month (details to be announced).

EI eligible applicants - Apply for EI benefits by visiting the website. Afterwards, you can apply to have the one-week waiting period waived by calling 1-833-381-2725.

EI ineligible applicants - Canada Emergency Response Benefit applications are currently open. CERB payments are issued within 10 days of application. The CERB would be paid every four weeks from March 15, 2020 until October 3, 2020. Apply through the CRA website.




Employers may be entitled to an EI premium reduction through the Short-Term Disability Benefits - Premium Reduction Program.

Short-Term Disability Benefits - Premium Reduction Program

Work Sharing - The eligibility period for the Work-Sharing program is increased from 38 to 76 weeks.

Work Sharing COVID-19 Changes

Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) - The Ontario Government is enabling $1.9 billion in relief for employers covered by the WSIB's workplace insurance. Employers are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package and can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. They will not be required to opt in to receive this benefit. The WSIB will also cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments, and will not charge penalties during this six-month deferral period. The WSIB will continue to fully cover workers at eligible workplaces.  


All businesses can defer the payment of income tax amounts until after August 31, 2020 with no interest or penalties for balances and instalments.

Flexibility for businesses filing taxes



GST and HST payments as well as duty taxes owned on imports will be deferred until June 2020.  



Increase credit available to small, medium and large Canadian businesses. The Business Credit Availability Program will provide additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).

BDC relief measures for qualified businesses include:

  • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months for qualifying businesses
  • Postponement of payments for up to six months, for existing BDC clients
  • Reduced rates on new eligible loans

BDC COVID-19 Support


EDC Covid-19 Support

Canada Emergency Business Account - Banks are offering $40,000 loans which will be guaranteed by the government and interest free for the first year. To qualify, businesses will need to demonstrate they paid between $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).

Expanded eligibility (announced May 19, 2020)

The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are sole proprietors receiving income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.

To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:

  • a business operating account at a participating financial institution.
  • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
  • eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance.
For the CEBA, contact financial institutions directly for details

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) provides finterest-free loans to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Fund, valued at more than $1.5 billion nationally and $463 million in southern Ontario, is delivered by Canada’s six regional development agencies. The fund was extended on November 24, 2020 to allow for an additional $1.6 million in funding for businesses in Essex County.

Windosr-Essex businesses can apply through the following methods:

Funding options: up to a $40,000 conditionally repayable contribution (interest-free loan); or up to a $500,000 unconditionally repayable contribution (interest-free loan). The RRRF supports SMEs that do not qualify for, or have been declined for, current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief measures. Priority may be given to SMEs in the manufacturing, technology, tourism and other sectors key to the region, that are major employers in small communities or that support the government’s commitment to underrepresented groups.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund details and application

Futurpreneur - To help its existing clients manage through the global pandemic, Futurpreneur will cover loan payments for six months (from March 25 through to September 24, 2020) and will also offer eligible existing clients interest-free top-up loans of up to $10,000. Futurpreneur has also matched each of the three consecutive interest rate cuts announced by the Bank of Canada in March.

Futurpreneur COVID-19 Support

Farm Credit Canada - Augment credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada.

Farm Credit Canada COVID-19 Support

Agri-Food Open for E-Business - The Governments of Canada and Ontario are helping food producers, farmers markets, retailers, garden centres, greenhouses, nurseries, and agricultural associations develop online business, providing consumers with greater access to a wide variety of food and agriculture products.

This targeted application intake features two funding streams:

  • Bring Your Business Online - Eligible organizations and businesses can apply for a grant of up to $5,000 to establish an online e-business and marketing presence. Funding under this stream will be quick and responsive for those needing immediate solutions.
  • Develop Online Business Opportunities - Eligible organizations, businesses and collaborations can apply for cost-share funding of up to $75,000 to implement high-impact projects.

Agri-Food Open for E-Business funding details and applications

Additional Government of Canada funding supports announced April 16, 2020:

  • $675 million to give financing support to small and medium-sized businesses that are unable to access the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures, through Canada’s Regional Development Agencies (contact FedDev Ontario).
  • $287 million to support rural businesses and communities, including by providing them with much-needed access to capital through the Community Futures Network (contact Business Resource Centre of Essex County). 
  • $500 million to establish a COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations to help address the financial needs of affected organizations within these sectors so they can continue to support artists and athletes.
  • $20.1 million in support for Futurpreneur Canada to continue to support young entrepreneurs across Canada who are facing challenges due to COVID-19. The funding will allow Futurpreneur Canada to provide payment relief for its clients for up to 12 months.
  • $250 million to assist innovative, early-stage companies that are unable to access existing COVID-19 business support, through the National Research Council of Canada’s Industrial Research Assistance Program.



Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

Canadian businesses, non-profit organizations, or charities who have seen a drop in revenue due to the COVID-19 pandemic 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.

CERS details and application requirements



The Government of Canada has launched an Insured Purchase Program to purchases up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This will provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders and support continued lending to Canadian businesses and consumers.

CMHC COVID-19 Update




The Ontario government is taking steps to defer a portion of Global Adjustment (GA) charges for industrial and commercial electricity consumers that do not participate in the Regulated Price Plan for the period starting from April 2020. This initiative is intended to provide companies with temporary immediate relief on their monthly electricity bills in April, May and June 2020. The government intends to keep this emergency order in place until May 31, 2020, and subsequent regulatory amendments would, if approved, provide for the deferral of these charges for June 2020 as well.

This relief will prevent a marked increase in Global Adjustment charges due to the low electricity demand caused by the COVID-19 outbreak. Without this emergency order, a small industrial or commercial consumer (i.e., Class B) could have seen bills increase by 15 per cent or more. This emergency order will hold GA rates in line with pre-COVID-19 levels.




City of Windsor Deferral of Property Taxes

The third installment for the 2020 Interim Property Taxes has been changed from April 15, 2020 to June 30, 2020. There will be no late payment charges in either form, penalty and/or interest, through the period ending June 30, 2020.

ENWIN Utilities - Moratorium on Electricity Disconnection for Small Businesses

Interest on unpaid accounts will not be charged, for bills produced between April 1 and June 30, for water, electricity and wastewater services. Additionally, EnWin is suspending disconnections on low-volume small business customers (annual usage of less than 150,000 kWh) until July 31, 2020. Collection action is also suspended indefinitely.

ENWIN Utilities - Moratorium on Disconnections and Waived Interest for Businesses

The Ontario Energy Board (OEB) has extended the provincially mandated electricity moratorium to low-volume, small business customers who annually use less than 150,000 kilowatt hours.

Arts, Culture & Heritage Fund

The City of Windsor has released an additional $60,000 for the creative community. Applications are open for grants up to $1,000 for local musicians, comedians, storytellers, dancers, singers, theatre artists, poets, filmmakers, visual artists, designers and artisans.



Other Public/Private Sector Support Programs



Canada's six largest financial institutions (Bank of Montreal, CIBC, National Bank of Canada, RBC Royal Bank, Scotiabank and TD Bank) have made a commitment to work with personal and small business banking customers on a case-by-case basis to provide flexible solutions to help them manage through challenges. This support will include up to a six-month payment deferral for mortgages and the opportunity for relief on other credit products.

Contact financial institutions directly for details

RE3: Rebuild, Reopen, Revive

RE3 is a government funded program that provides non-repayable performance based contributions up to $5,000 to assist Southern Ontario women-led SMEs to rebuild, reopen and revive their businesses

RE3 program details and application form




Digital Main Street (DMS) is increasing its supports to small businesses, including the expansion of its ShopHERE program across Canada in hopes of building 50,000 online stores by the end of 2020. Through ShopHERE, volunteer website developers will provide businesses with over 17 hours of hands-on support to launch an e-commerce website using Shopify.

DMS is also introducing a new program, Future Proofing Main Street, in which businesses get deep dives into their operations and receive recommendations for digital transformation. Finally, DMS is relaunching its Digital Transformation Grant program by providing 3,200 more grants of $2,500 each to businesses across Ontario beginning July 1, 2020. Visit the DMS website to register a main street businesses account. There is no fees for participating in DMS. Direct support to Windsor-Essex small businesses is also provided the Small Busines Centre's Digital Service Squad. Contact the squad to set up a free consultation and learn how to take advantage of DMS supports to transform your business' digital presence.

Deadline to apply for a Digital Transformation Grant is November 30, 2020.

Digital Main Street



The Arts Council Windsor & Region has created the Windsor-Essex Artist Micro Grant. Artists of any discipline can request a one-time grant of $75 for groceries and any essentials. Additionally, this fund is available to all ACWR members, including student members from the School of Creative Arts and St. Clair College.

Grant appliction and donation details



For a limited time, small- and medium-sized businesses responding to federal and provincial requests can solve COVID-19 research and development challenges with academic expertise, enhanced leveraged funding and one-to-one support from Mitacs. Through Mitacs, companies can access the Accelerate internships which start at four months. For COVID-19-related work, companies' financial contribution may be eligible to start at $3,750, which turns into a $15,000 research award through this funding. Opportunities also exist for virtual interaction between participants.

Accelerate Internship



Distantly is an online donation platform that allows community members to make direct donations to small businesses, helping cover overhead costs during the COVID-19 crisis. Storefront business are eligible to create a free company profile on the webiste. Distantly is a collaborative effort and is closely partnered with the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas and Digital Main Street, a provincial program delivered locally by the WindsorEssex Small Business Centre.



Shopify Capital offers cash advances to merchants which are repaid through future sales. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Shopify Capital, has made an additional US$200 million in funding available. In Canada, Shopify will offer advances as low as $200 and as high as $500,000 beginning April 21, 2020. Shopify Capital’s cash advance applications take between two-to-five business days to process before appearing in a merchant’s bank account. There are no deadlines for repayment and businesses are not obligated to pay anything if they are not generating sales. Visit Shopify Capital for details


eBay is pledging up to $100 million in support for small businesses across North America through the launch of Up & Running, an accelerator program specifically designed to help retailers without an e-commerce presence transition to selling online. Through the program, eBay will give new businesses a free basic eBay store for three months, waive selling fees for these new businesses, and allow them to sell up to 500 items for free. New eBay sellers will also receive the guidance and resources they need to run their business on eBay - including a suite of exclusive marketing and merchandising tools, customization features to build a brand, discounted shipping supplies and more. Visit eBay Up & Running to setup your store


Google is giving small and medium-sized buisnesses worldwide $340 million in ad credits, which can be used at any point until the end of 2020 across its Google Ads platforms.These businesses who have been active advertisers since the beginning of 2019 will see a credit notification appear in their Google Ads account in the coming months.

Visit Google Ads for details




The Postmedia Supports Marketing Grant Program provides advertising support to local businesses in the cities and communities Postmedia serves to support their plans to reopen. The program has two components:

  • A full marketing grant program to select businesses in the hardest hit sectors of our economy, including, but not limited to the restaurant, tourism and hospitality sectors
  • A match program whereby local businesses can apply for matching media investments from $500 to $15,000 to complement their new programs

Grants are available for the months of June, July and August 2020 to registered Canadian businesses, not-for-profit and charity organizations that operate within 100 km of the communities Postmedia serves.

Businesses can apply for the full marketing grant program or matching grant program at