FAQ About Canadian Businesses and Workers Affected by COVID-19

  • Where can I find an overview of federal government supports for businesses?

    Federal Financial Supports

    Regional Development Agencies

    Provincial/Territorial Government Financial Supports

  • How is the government supporting businesses that have to reduce operations due to COVID-19 impacts?

    There is a wide variety of federal support programs available as a part of the federal government’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan. This includes support for businesses which have been able to remain operational. The full Economic Response Plan is available here.

    The federal government also has a ‘find financial help during COVID-19’ tool, which guides you towards programs that may help based on your answers to a few short questions. The tool is available for both businesses (including non-profits and charities) and individuals.

    Provincial and Territorial governments also have a wide variety of supports in place, including for businesses still in operation. Information for each region can be found here:

  • Are the federal support programs accessible to charities and not-for-profits?

    Yes, most programs are available to for-profit, non-profit, and charities.

    You can use the ‘find financial help during COVID-19’ tool, which guides you towards programs that may help based on your answers to a few short questions. The ‘business’ tool is available for businesses, non-profits and charities, here.

  • What federal support is available for workers who are laid off or have to leave work to care for a family member with COVID-19; have symptoms and go into self-isolation; test positive and/or have to care for children due to government-imposed school/daycare closures?

    Several federal programs have been created or expanded to help individuals facing challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The federal government also has a ‘find financial help during COVID-19’ tool, which guides you towards programs that may help based on your answers to a few short questions. The tool is available for individuals and families here.

  • Can employers top up their employees’ EI benefits?

    Yes. Information on the federal Supplemental Unemployment Benefit Program is available here.

  • What support is available for workers that don’t qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits?

    Several federal programs may be able to assist Canadians who do not qualify for EI.

    Use the ‘find financial help during COVID-19’ tool, which guides you towards programs that may help based on your answers to a few short questions. The tool is available for individuals and families here.

  • What if I’m not sure which program(s) I am eligible for or believe that I could benefit from a combination of them?

    Use the ‘find financial help during COVID-19’ tool, which guides you towards programs that may help based on your answers to a few short questions. The tool is available for individuals and families here and for businesses (including non-profits and charities) here.

  • My business has been ordered shut down by government because it is deemed non-essential. Should I consider e-commerce?

    Yes. The closure of non-essential businesses by government is to reduce the risk of people infecting each other with the COVID-19 virus. If you can keep your business even partially up and running using e-commerce, it is worth exploring.

    Google and Facebook have resources available which may help guide you.

  • I am getting ready to reopen my business. What should I do?

    The Canadian Chamber of Commerce, through the CBRN, has published the reopening toolkit for businesses. The toolkit includes information on best practices, health resources, financial supports, communications advice, childcare availability information, tracking of current regulations in place across the country, and more. The toolkit also provides access to additional resources from numerous other organizations.

    The toolkit is available here.

  • Is there any flexibility in self-isolation requirements for workers coming into Canada providing essential business services (air cargo, oil/gas production)?

    Yes, rules for essential workers who are travelling are different from others. Information is available for the Canada Border Services Agency here.

    Additionally, some provinces and territories have introduced travel restrictions of their own. Please consult local information to ensure you have the latest information before you travel.

  • What federal support is there for businesses requiring emergency access to capital or credit due to COVID-19?

    Use the ‘find financial help during COVID-19’ tool, which guides you towards programs that may help based on your answers to a few short questions. The tool is available for businesses (including non-profits and charities) here.

    There are several programs that are available to businesses that need access to additional capital or credit solutions. These programs are primarily being delivered by Business Development  Bank of Canada (BDC), Export Development Canada (EDC), Canada Enterprise Emergency Funding Corporation, Farm Credit Canada, Heritage Canada, and the six Regional Development Agencies. Follow those links for information on the programs being delivered by each organization. Please note: in the case of EDC, even if your business is not an exporting business, they may be able to assist.

    The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is delivered by your local financial institution, with loan underwriting provided by the federal government.

  • What about assistance for businesses to pay their rent?

    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 from the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) program to cover part of their commercial rent or property expenses, starting on September 27, 2020, until June 2021. More information is available here.

    For businesses operating on Parks Canada sites, the government is offering rent assistance. More information is available here.

  • What sector-specific supports have been announced?

    The federal government has announced funding specific to several sectors of the Canadian economy. Detailed information is contained with the “support for sectors” section of the Economic Response Plan, available here.

    Additional support for businesses is also available through non-sector specific federal programs or regional development agencies. Use the ‘find financial help during COVID-19’ tool, which guides you towards programs that may help based on your answers to a few short questions. The tool is available for businesses (including non-profits and charities) here.

  • What supports are available for students and recent graduates?

    The government has created a series of programs directed toward students and recent graduates, including the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) and Canada Student Service Grant (CSSG).

    • The CESB would provide $1,250 per month for eligible students or $2,000 per month for eligible students with dependents or disabilities. The benefit would be available from May to August 2020. Students can apply for the CESB here.
    • The CSSG is for students who choose to do national service and volunteer in their communities. The grant will provide funding for their education in the fall.

    The government is also expanding existing federal employment, skills development, and youth programming, including. More information can be found under the ‘Post-secondary students and recent graduates’ heading on Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

    Additional support for students and recent grads may be available through other federal programs. Use the ‘find financial help during COVID-19’ tool, which guides you towards programs that may help based on your answers to a few short questions. The tool is available for individuals and families here.

  • What supports are available for the academic and research community?

    The government has announced its intention to provide $450 million in funding to Canada’s academic and research community. This funding will:

    • Provide wage supports to universities and health research institutes, so they can retain research staff who are funded from industry or philanthropic sources and are unable to access some of the government’s existing COVID-19 support measures. This would apply even if their work has been temporarily suspended. The government will provide up to 75 per cent per individual, with a maximum of $847 per week.
    • Support universities and health research institutes to maintain essential research-related activities during the crisis, and to ramp back up to full research operations once physical distancing measures are lifted. This will cover up to 75 per cent of total eligible costs, and will support activities such as the safe storage of dangerous substances, and restarting data sets that were interrupted during the pandemic.

    More information is available here.

  • How do the enhancements to the Canada Summer Jobs (CSJ) program work?

    In response to the COVID-19 situation, the following flexibilities have been introduced to respond to the needs of employers and youth:

    • Wage subsidies
    • Part-time employment
    • Employment period extended
    • Allowed changes to project and job activities

    More information on the flexibilities is available here.

    Eligibility criteria:

    • Eligible employers include: not-for-profit organizations, the public-sector, and private sector organizations with 50 or fewer full-time employees.
    • In addition to fitting the criteria for employer eligibility, organizations must meet the program eligibility criteria in order to be funded. This includes demonstrating that measures are in place to ensure youth awareness of health and safety practices in the workplace, that measures are in place to ensure work environments are free of harassment and discrimination and describing supervision and mentoring plans.
    • Employers participating in CSJ must offer placements to youth between 15 and 30 years of age that are Canadian citizens, permanent residents, or refugees who are legally entitled to work in Canada.
    • The full list of eligibility criteria is available here.

    Getting listed on the ‘I Want to Help’ platform:

    • The Call for Applications for CSJ closed at the end of February 2020 and employers will soon be notified if they are approved for funding.
    • All CSJ jobs which are approved will be posted on the Government of Canada’s Job Bank website so that interested youth may apply.
    • Temporary changes for CSJ 2020 include additional flexibility to support the hiring of youth in critical services by providing an opportunity for MPs to submit names of employers providing essential services, who had not applied in the call for application.
    • MPs had until April 24 to provide lists of additional employers to the Department.

    More information on the CSJ program is available here.

  • What about delaying tax deadlines, federal tax remittances, and other CRA payments?

    The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) has adjusted numerous deadlines for filing taxes and making payments as a result of COVID-19 for both businesses and individuals. Detailed information on deadlines from the CRA is available here.

    Additional information on widespread changes implemented by the CRA as a result of the pandemic is available here.

  • How is business insurance coverage triggered?

    While this depends on your individual insurance policy, this guidance from the Insurance Bureau of Canada may provide a good starting point.

  • Where can I get up-to-date information on the situation with the Canada-U.S. border?

    The Canada Border Service Agency’s Border Information Service (BIS) is now accessible 24/7. For the most up-to-date information related to cross border travel and business, please call 1-800-461-9999.

    You can also check the CBSA website here.

  • What has been designated as essential business operations by the federal government?

    Public Safety Canada has guidance on essential services and functions during the COVID-19 pandemic available here. Canada’s National Strategy for Critical Infrastructure defines critical infrastructure as the processes, systems, facilities, technologies, networks, assets, and services essential to the health, safety, security or economic well-being of Canadians and the effective functioning of government. The Strategy classifies critical infrastructure in Canada according to ten sectors:

    • Energy and Utilities
    • Information and Communication Technologies
    • Finance
    • Health
    • Food
    • Water
    • Transportation
    • Safety
    • Government
    • Manufacturing

    Additionally, other levels of government have defined their own essential businesses and are implementing reopening strategies. You may consult the CBRN National Reopening Government Regulation Tracker for more information.

  • What is the maximum recommended size of gatherings?

    In most jurisdictions across Canada large gatherings (more than 10 people) are not permitted at this time. The exact number of people permitted in gatherings however does vary across the country, according to provincial/territorial/municipal regulations. You may consult the CBRN National Reopening Government Regulation Tracker for access to more specific information.

  • Will there be tariff relief for essential medical supplies and equipment that need to be imported?

    On March 16, CBSA Customs Notice 20-08 announced tariff relief for medical equipment imported by government authorities.

  • What resources are available from the Public Health Agency of Canada?

    There is a wide variety of public health information, resources, and tools available from the Government of Canada. The best place to start is on the government’s main COVID-19 landing page, available here.

  • What are Canada’s Regional Economic Development Agencies doing to help business during the COVID-19 pandemic?

  • How can businesses that have the capacity to produce medical supplies and equipment to fight COVID-19 make themselves and their capabilities known to the government?

    The Government of Canada has published a call to action for manufacturers and businesses to contact the government if you are able to assist. More information is available here.

  • What are the travel exemptions for Temporary Foreign Workers?

    The government is allowing TFWs to enter Canada, however they must quarantine for 14 days upon their arrival. Detailed information on travel restrictions and exemptions is available here.

  • What about the movement of people providing other essential services across the Canada-U.S. border?

    Exemptions to self-isolation for fourteen (14) days will be provided to healthy workers who provide essential services. This includes workers in the trade and transportation sector who are important for the movement of goods and people across the border, such as truck drivers and crew on any aircraft, train or marine vessel crossing the border. It also includes healthy people who have to cross the border to go to work, including health care providers and critical infrastructure workers.

    More information is available here.

About COVID-19

  • What are the symptoms of COVID-19?

    The Government of Canada has a COVID-19 self-assessment tool available here.

    Public Health Canada describes the symptoms of COVID-19 in detail here.

    From the Government of Canada:

    Those who are infected with COVID-19 may have little to no symptoms. You may not know you have symptoms of COVID-19 because they are similar to a cold or flu.

    Symptoms have included:

    • cough
    • fever
    • difficulty breathing
    • pneumonia in both lungs

    In severe cases, infection can lead to death.

    Symptoms may take up to 14 days to appear after exposure to COVID-19. This is the longest known incubation period for this disease.

    Recent evidence indicates that the virus can be transmitted to others from someone who is infected but not showing symptoms. This includes people who:

    • have not yet developed symptoms (pre-symptomatic)
    • never develop symptoms (asymptomatic)

    While experts know that these kinds of transmissions are happening among those in close contact or in close physical settings, it is not known to what extent. This means it is extremely important to follow the proven preventative measures.

  • What should I do if I, or someone in my family, has symptoms?

    Public Health Canada has information available here.

    From the Government of Canada:

    If you are showing symptoms of COVID-19, reduce your contact with others:

    • isolate yourself at home for 14 days to avoid spreading it to others
      • if you live with others, stay in a separate room or keep a 2-metre distance
    • visit a health care professional or call your local public health authority
      • call ahead to tell them your symptoms and follow their instructions

    Children who have mild COVID-19 symptoms are able to stay at home with a caregiver throughout their recovery without needing hospitalization. If you are caring for a child who has suspected or probable COVID-19, it is important to follow the advice for caregivers. This advice will help you protect yourself, others in your home, as well as others in the community.

    If you become sick while travelling back to Canada:

    • inform the flight attendant or a Canadian border services officer
    • advise a Canada border services agent on arrival in Canada if you believe you were exposed to someone who was sick with COVID-19, even if you do not have symptoms
      • this is required under the Quarantine Act
      • the Canada border services agent will provide instructions for you to follow
  • How can I prevent myself from getting sick?

    Public Health Canada has information on risks and preventing COVID-19 available here.

    From the Government of Canada:

    Canadians should continue to think ahead about the actions that they can take to stay healthy and prevent the spread of COVID-19 in Canada. This includes staying at home as much as possible and being prepared in case you or a family member becomes ill. Everyone should be practising physical (social) distancing. Even if you do not have symptoms of COVID-19, you could become infected by others.

    As we continue to see transmission of the virus within different communities, we know that everyone must take precautions, even those who have not travelled outside of Canada.

    In an effort to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within communities and across the country, all Canadians are advised to:

    • stay at home unless you have to go to work
      • talk to your employer about working at home if possible
    • avoid all non-essential trips in your community
    • do not gather in groups
    • limit contact with people at higher risk, such as older adults and those in poor health
    • go outside to exercise but stay close to home
    • if you leave your home, always keep a distance of at least 2 arms lengths (approximately 2 metres) from others
      • household contacts (people you live with) do not need to distance from each other unless they are sick or have travelled in the last 14 days

    You can go for a walk if you:

    • have not been diagnosed with COVID-19
    • do not have symptoms of COVID-19
    • have not travelled outside of Canada in the past 14 days
    • are not in quarantine (self-isolating)
    • are not isolating

    If you go out for a walk, do not congregate and always practise physical (social) distancing by keeping at least 2 metres apart from others at all times.

    Physical (social) distancing

    Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Physical (social) distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.

    This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:

    • avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings
    • avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
    • limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
    • keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others


    Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:

    • wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
      • use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
    • when coughing or sneezing:
      • cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
      • dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
    • avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands


    Coronaviruses are one of the easiest types of viruses to kill with the appropriate disinfectant product when used according to the label directions. Health Canada has published a list of hard surface disinfectants that are likely to be effective for use against COVID-19.

    Although they do not claim to kill COVID-19, cleaners can play a role in limiting the transfer of microorganisms. Health Canada recommends cleaning high-touch hard surfaces often, using either regular household cleaners or diluted bleach according to the label directions. This bleach solution should be prepared according to the instructions on the label or in a ratio of 250 mL (1 cup) of water per 5 mL (1 teaspoon) of bleach. Directions are based on bleach that is 5% sodium hypochlorite, to give a 0.1% sodium hypochlorite solution. Never mix bleach with other chemical products and use it in a well-ventilated area. Special precautions must be used when cleaning with bleach to avoid serious incidents.

    These surfaces include:

    • toilets
    • phones
    • electronics
    • door handles
    • bedside tables
    • television remotes

    Refer to the guidance on cleaning and disinfecting public spaces for more information.

    Wearing masks or face coverings

    Medical masks, including surgical, medical procedure face masks and respirators (like N95 masks), must be kept for health care workers and others providing direct care to COVID-19 patients.

    Wearing a non-medical mask or face covering while out in public is recommended for periods of time when it is not possible to consistently maintain a 2-metre physical distance from others, particularly in crowded public settings, such as:

    • stores
    • shopping areas
    • public transportation

    Public health officials will make recommendations based on a number of factors, including the rates of infection and/or transmission in the community. Recommendations may vary from location to location.

    If you do choose to wear one, refer to the:

    Masks alone will not prevent the spread of COVID-19. You must consistently and strictly adhere to good hygiene and public health measures, including frequent hand washing and physical (social) distancing.

  • Should I/our organization cancel non-essential travel?

    The government has advised Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside Canada until further notice. Federal travel advisories can be found on the Canada.ca website.

    Additionally, jurisdictions within Canada may have prohibitions against domestic travel in some locations. Please consult your provincial/territorial government for more information.

  • Should I/we be cancelling events?

    In most jurisdictions, public health regulations do not permit the gathering of large groups of people, making it impossible to hold in-person events. As our economy moves to reopen, there are some initial timelines available for when small gatherings may be able to take place (with appropriate health measures, such as distancing, in effect), however timelines for when large gatherings may again take place generally are unavailable. You may consult the CBRN National Reopening Government Regulation Tracker for more information.

    When possible, you should explore the possibility of moving your event(s) online.

“Businesses in Canada have never been more challenged than they are today as a result of COVID-19, and the demand for information on programs and initiatives to assist in helping them plan for their future is critical. The Canadian Business Resilience Network is an invaluable asset for businesses to ensure they have the tools needed to make informed decisions that will help them rebuild.” 

Chuck Davidson, President and CEO, Manitoba Chambers of Commerce


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