Federal budget boosts pandemic support for small businesses

May 20, 2021 Zoé Paradis

The federal government’s 2021 budget introduced new solutions, and improvements to existing programs, in an effort to provide financial support to SMBs during the pandemic. Canada’s first female finance minister, Chrystia Freeland, delivered a budget designed to help small businesses recover in the short term, and prepare for long-term growth.

Canada Recovery Hiring Program

This new program, which is set to run from June to November 2021, was designed to make it easier for businesses to reopen. The Canada Recovery Hiring Program will provide eligible employers with a subsidy to offset the cost of increasing employee wages, work hours, or hiring more staff.

Canada Digital Adoption Program

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the need for many businesses to go digital, and The Canada Digital Adoption Program will support as many as 160,000 SMBs in their adoption of new technologies. Eligible businesses can receive micro grants and get connected with some 28,000 youth looking for training and work opportunities.

Cutting Credit Card Transaction Fees

Recognizing that the pandemic has created an increased reliance on online transactions, the federal government will work with credit card companies to cut the fees paid by SMBs every time a customer pays with a credit card.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)Extended

This subsidy aims to subsidize employee wages to help support eligible Canadian employers whose revenue was reduced because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The subsidy program is currently set to expire in June 2021 but will be extended to September 25, 2021.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)Extended

The application deadline for these interest-free, partially forgivable loans was recently extended to June 30, 2021.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)Extended

The deadline for this fund, which aims to help businesses overcome pandemic-related challenges, has been extended to June 30, 2021. Businesses that already receive support from this fund may be eligible to receive up to an additional $20,000.

Indigenous Business InitiativeExtended

This initiative provides interest-free loans and non-repayable contributions to small- and medium-sized Indigenous businesses facing hardships due to the pandemic. The application deadline has been extended to June 30, 2021.

Canada Small Business Financing Program (CSBFP)Expanded

To help small businesses continue to operate in the current climate, the federal government plans to increase financing through this program to support another 2,900 small businesses. Other updates include increasing the maximum loan amount from $350,000 to $500,000, extending the loan coverage period from 10 to 15 years for equipment and leasehold improvements, expanding borrower eligibility and loan class eligibility to include supporting property and start-up assets and expenses, and introducing a new line of credit.

If you’re looking for a shortcut to the right programs and services for your business, take advantage of the Business Benefits Finder search tool. You can also find more information about federal programs designed to support Canadian small businesses during the pandemic by visiting the Government of Canada’s website.

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