An Update on Small Business as Ontario Re-Opens

ByBrad Bradford

Hi everyone, 

As we start to reopen the economy now felt like as good a time as any to share an update. Lots of detail below but two key points to highlight:

  • Yesterday, PM Trudeau announced that the Commercial Emergency Rent Assistance (CECRA) program will launch on May 25th on the CMHC website.
  • Through the Ministry of Labour, the Province has begun sharing detailed sector-by-sector guidance on how to set up operations. You can find that guidance here.

You can find more resources and commentary below. I continue to share timely updates on our weekly BIA calls with TABIA and across my social media channels (TwitterFacebookInstagramE-newsletter).

Government Actions – Federal

Prime Minister Trudeau announced yesterday that the Commercial Emergency Rent Assistance (CECRA) program will launch on May 25th. This will come too late for many businesses, and without a moratorium on commercial evictions in Ontario, too many business are at risk of being closed permanently.

The Federal Government did announce on Tuesday that the criteria for the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) will be expanded to include more small businesses. The program will now include 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. Details are here.

Government Actions – Provincial

As we enter Phase 1 of re-opening, there are a lot of questions around how businesses should be opening safely. The best advice – and the applicable regulation – is set out by the Ministry of Labour. The MoL website has detailed sector-by-sector guidance on how to set up operations here.

There has been some great work from our friends at the Ossington, Bloordcourt and the St Lawrence Lawrence Market BIA on helping to prepare a checklist for Toronto businesses too. We’re working on getting additional, city-focussed guidance from our Emergency Operations Centre. In the meantime it’s important to note that the jurisdiction around business operations in these circumstances is with the Province, and the City will be responding to their framework.  

As mentioned above, I am still focused on the push for a commercial eviction moratorium. I am working with my Council colleagues to make the following asks from the Premier, the Ministry of Finance, and the Minister Sarkaria through direct conversations:

  • The need for a blanket moratorium on commercial evictions for April, May and June rent. 
  • Working with the Federal Government to create more flexible parameters to access CECRA/Ontario-CECRA because the 70% loss in revenue requirement is too high. 
  • Action to address The challenges for being a landlord-driven application process.

Applications for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy are still open and are available here

Government Actions – Municipal 

The City continues taking important steps to support local business. Most recently, the ShopHERE programs and the partnership with RitualONE launched.


  • The ShopHERE program is an effort to get businesses and artists online and keep them afloat until we can get people back out on Main Streets and consumer confidence returns.
  • The program is free for businesses with less than 10 employees and artists to participate.
  • There has been good uptake on ShopHere so far. In just a few days they’ve received 750 applications, they have 175 online stores in progress, and 650 Volunteers supporting their efforts

Ritual ONE Partnership

  • We continue to follow up asks from this group and many others to get more support from food service platforms. Ritual ONE is an exciting partnership to enable easy online and app-based ordering for restaurants and food service businesses, including grocers, butchers, and bakeries.
  • Businesses that sign up by June 1 will receive the service free for life and will not pay any commission or monthly subscription fees on Ritual ONE orders.
  • I encourage all relevant businesses to sign up for Ritual ONE. You can find more details and sign-up here.

ActiveTO and Patio Space

  • There is a big push right now on helping deliver more public space to allow businesses to restore consumer confidence. We’re going to need the full support of our business community in this. 
  • Using complete streets and active transportation is a direct response to the decimation of transit trips and transit ridership which is down over 80%. This gives people a second option, where they feel safe, to get out and spend on main street, 
  • We need to incrementally get people, safely leaving their homes to restore consumer confidence and kick-start the main street recovery. 
  • We are hearing the call for creating more patio space to enable business to reopen while distancing. Our City’s Transportation Services department is working proactively on this and you’ll be hearing more about how we’re going to support this in the coming days. There may need to be a trade off with on-street parking but none of those decisions shouldn’t be made without the input of the businesses affected.
  • I want to encourage everyone to share their feedback – work on the details and work together. That’s why I’m here – to understand the trade-offs and what the priorities are. 

Resources and supports

Of course, my office and your local councillors are a resource too.  

Looking ahead

Once again, a lot of information here. I can speak on behalf of your communities when I say they are so grateful for the hard work you’re putting in. As I’ve said throughout, your feedback and comments are critical. Please don’t hesitate to reach out for clarification or to share more information. 

Stay well,