Ontario announced additional financial assistance for small businesses as well as wage top-offs for essential workers and funding for Canada's indigenous peoples.
Although Doug Ford hinted last week that some restrictions may soon be lifted, Ontario has extended all emergency orders in the province, including restrictions on social gatherings, until May 29.
The emergency orders currently in place restrict social gatherings of more than five people, enforce closures of bars and restaurants (except for takeout and delivery), and uphold staff redeployment rules for long-term care homes and congregate settings.
On May 19, Ontario entered Stage One of its reopening process—allowing retail stores with street-front entrances to operate again and reopening some outdoor recreational amenities, including outdoor sports facilities.
Additional Relief for Businesses
On May 19, Trudeau announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to include many owner-operated small businesses.
The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses, including sole proprietors who receive income directly from their businesses, businesses that rely on contractors, and family-owned corporations that pay employees through dividends rather than payroll.
Additional eligibility criteria is included in the link below.
Temporary Wage Increase
Ontario announced temporary pandemic pay to help frontline staff who are experiencing severe challenges and are at heightened risk during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Eligible employees include those in health care, long-term care, social services, and corrections fields.
Eligible employees will receive temporary pandemic pay on hourly wages, and those working over 100 hours in a designated four-week period will receive monthly lump-sum payments.
This pay will be provided retroactively to April 24, 2020, and includes $4 per hour worked on top of existing hourly wages, regardless of current hourly rate.
Additional Relief for Indigenous Peoples
On March 18, Canada announced $305 million for a new, distinctions-based Indigenous Community Support Fund to address immediate needs in Indigenous communities and to help them respond to COVID-19.
The Fund included $15 million in support for Indigenous organizations that provide services to Indigenous peoples living in urban centres and off-reserve.
The goal is to support more community-based projects, including food security, mental health support services, and sanitation and protective equipment.
However, this financial support could also help with other needs, such as support for Elders, transportation, and educational materials for Indigenous children and youth.
Funding for the projects will start rolling out in the coming weeks.
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