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Coronavirus: Ontario government now accepting small business support grant applications

Click to play video 'Coronavirus: Ontario premier discusses supporting small businesses during lockdown' Coronavirus: Ontario premier discusses supporting small businesses during lockdown
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford discusses supporting small businesses – Jan 13, 2021

The Ontario government has opened an application process for small businesses affected by the provincially ordered coronavirus shutdown to access thousands in one-time support grants.

The Small Business Support Grant, which was announced at the end of 2020, will provide between $10,000 and $20,000 to small businesses that were ordered closed or were subject to “significant” restrictions.

According to a statement issued on Friday, the funding can be used “in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business needs” (examples included wages and rent). There are also support programs for personal protective equipment, property taxes and energy costs.

To qualify for the program, the government required business owners to show they had a revenue decline of at least 20 per cent in April 2020 compared to April 2019. Officials said that time period “reflects the impact of the public health measures in spring 2020, and as such provides a representation of the possible impact of these latest measures on small businesses.”

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Read more: Small business group slams new Ontario COVID-19 retail restrictions

The application process comes days after the Ontario government declared a state of emergency and imposed a stay-at-home order in response to surging COVID-19 cases.

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Dan Kelly, president of the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, has criticized the Ontario government for restrictions that make it easier for big-box stores to operate compared to a variety of small businesses.

He said his group, which represents approximately 42,000 Ontario businesses, isn’t calling for stores to be wide open, but would like to see restrictions closer to those enacted by British Columbia.

“Ford has toasted his relationship with small business owners,” Kelly said earlier in the week.

Read more: Small businesses call on Ontario to change COVID-19 lockdown rules as big box stores remain open

“No province in Canada has locked down small retailers while allowing box stores to remain open. Not a single one. All of them have medical offices of health advisors at the provincial and municipal level.”

However, he praised the Ontario government’s initiative on Twitter Friday afternoon.

“It is a solid program and has been well-designed, especially as it includes new (2020) businesses,” he wrote.

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“CFIB has identified some early gaps, including support for those locked down earlier in the pandemic.”

— With files from The Canadian Press

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