Support for Clean Technology Businesses during COVID-19
The Clean Growth Hub has prepared the following information to support clean technology stakeholders with information on federal COVID-19 response measures.
Please note that efforts are made to keep the following websites up to date, however, the situation evolves quickly and some measures may not yet be described, may lack details, or details may shift.
- Government of Canada expands Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) to further support businesses
- Prime Minister announces $10 billion infrastructure plan to create jobs and grow the economy
- The deadline to opt-in for the extended Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) is October 30, 2020
Find out more below…
1. Where can clean tech companies find information about the Government of Canada's COVID-19 response measures?
Canada's COVID-19 Economic Response Plan is the central repository of federal COVID-19 response measures from across departments and agencies and outlines measures for individuals, businesses and industry.
- The plan provides links to the available "Support for businesses".
2. What support is available to help businesses avoid layoffs?
The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) provides up to 75% wage subsidy for qualifying businesses, retroactive to March 15, 2020, and available until December 19, 2020. This will help businesses to keep and return workers to the payroll.
- Available to qualifying employers of all sizes, including individuals, taxable corporations, and partnerships consisting of eligible employers, non-profit organizations and registered charities.
- Eligible employers can apply via the Canada Revenue Agency.
- Available to eligible employers that see a drop of at least 15 per cent of their revenue in March 2020 and 30 per cent in April, May, June, 2020 (consult website for Eligible Periods), with some additional flexibility for businesses established in February, not-for-profits and charities.
- August 17, 2020: Program redesigned and applications for claim period 5 (July 5 to August 1) are now open.
- Changes include: increased eligibility — all employers who've experienced a revenue drop can now qualify for a base subsidy; the subsidy rate will vary depending on how much the revenue dropped, etc.
- Please consult the website for more information on the changes to the program.
The 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month measure for eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the Canada Revenue Agency.
- The subsidy is equal to 10% of the remuneration paid from March 18, 2020 to June 19, 2020, up to $1,375 for each eligible employee to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer.
- There is no application for the subsidy and it is a separate program from the CEWS.
NRC IRAP Innovation Assistance Program (IAP)
- The NRC IRAP Innovation Assistance Program ($250 million in funding) assists Canadian small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) pursuing technology-driven innovation who have been unable to secure funding under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.
- It provides a wage subsidy to eligible employers for up to 12 weeks.
- The call for applications is now closed.
Work-Sharing temporary special measures
- Work-Sharing (WS) is an adjustment program designed to help employers and employees avoid layoffs when there is a temporary reduction in the normal level of business activity that is beyond the control of the employer.
- Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, and not limited to one specific sector or industry, the Government of Canada is introducing temporary special measures such as an extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.
- For employers and employees that are participating in a Work-Sharing program, Employment Insurance benefits received by employees through the Work-Sharing program will reduce the benefit that their employer is entitled to receive under the CEWS.
Canada Summer Jobs 2020 temporary flexibilities for employers
- In response to the COVID-19 situation, flexibilities have been introduced to respond to the needs of employers and youth.
$450 million in funding to help Canada's academic research community
- This funding will be provided through Canada's three federal granting agencies to:
- 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.
- All Canadian universities and health research institutes that are eligible for funding through Canada's federal granting agencies — Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC), Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) - and ineligible for other COVID-19 emergency wage measures, will be able to access this temporary support. The funding will be delivered as a block grant, so institutions can access help quickly.
3. What should businesses do if they are concerned that they will not have the financial resources to get through the COVID-19 crisis and subsequent recovery period?
Businesses that are concerned about not having financial resources to continue through the crisis and recovery period should start by talking to their local financial institutions (commercial banks and credit unions) to assess their positions.
The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) provides $65 billion of additional liquidity to Canadian businesses facing challenges brought on by COVID-19. Under BCAP, the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) work with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses. BCAP is available until June 2021.
- Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs): BDC with financial institutions will co-lend term loans to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements. Eligible businesses may obtain incremental credit amounts up to $6.25 million, 80 per cent of which would be provided by BDC, with the remaining 20% by a financial institution.
- Loan Guarantees for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises(SMEs): EDC guarantees a new one-year term loan or operating line of credit for 80% of its value, up to $6.25M, allowing businesses to deal with payroll and operating cost issues and enabling their financial institution to take on less risk. Available for all Canadian companies, including non-exporting businesses that sell domestically.
- BDC's Mid-Market Financing Program: provides commercial loans ranging between $12.5 million and $60 million each, available until or before September 30, 2020, to medium-sized businesses with annual revenues in excess of about $100 million to $500 million, and whose credit needs exceed what is already available through the Business Credit Availability Program and other measures.
- EDC's Mid-Market Guarantee and Financing Program: will bring liquidity to companies who tend to have revenues of between $50 million to $300 million, to sustain operations during this uncertain period. EDC will continue to work with Canadian financial institutions to guarantee 75 per cent of new operating credit and cash-flow loans — ranging in size from $16.75 million to a maximum of $80 million.
- These expanded guarantees are available to exporters, international investors and businesses that sell their products or services within Canada. More details will be made available soon.
- Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) provides interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits to pay for immediate operating costs such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax, or debt service.
- This support is available until October 31, 2020.
- Funded by the Government of Canada and delivered in partnership with financial institutions (banks and credit unions).
- Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 25 percent (up to $10,000).
- It is available to Canadian employers with $20,000 to $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019, and operating as of March 1, 2020.
- Applicants with $20,000 or less in total employment income paid in the 2019 calendar year would need:
- A Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
- To have had eligible non-deferrable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferrable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance (expenses subject to verification and audit by the Government of Canada).
- As of June 26, 2020, businesses eligible for CEBA now include owner-operated small businesses that do not have a payroll, sole proprietors receiving business income directly, as well as family-owned corporations remunerating in the form of dividends rather than payroll.
- If you have already applied for CEBA and have questions, please contact the new CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201 to receive a status update on your CEBA application. The CEBA call centre is open Monday to Friday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm EST and can address the following types of questions:
- Business Resilience Service is a telephone hotline to help entrepreneurs and small business owners in need of financial planning advice. Operated by the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, this service is also available to not-for-profit organizations and charities.
- 1-866-989-1080 (toll-free) seven days a week, from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Eastern Time Zone.
4. What other emergency relief is available for businesses?
The Government is providing emergency financial relief to qualified businesses through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC).
Companies can be referred to BDC/EDC by financial institutions (commercial banks or credit unions) and can access them directly via their respective websites where they will be directed according to whether they are new or existing clients.
BDC's COVID-19 resource for businesses
- In addition to the BCAP supports, BDC can provide working capital loans of up to $2M with flexible terms for qualified businesses, as assessed on their pre-COVID financial viability, as well as reduced rates on new eligible loans.
- Existing BDC clients (with loan commitments below $1M) may be eligible for payment deferrals up to 6 months and are encouraged to reach out to their account manager.
EDC's COVID-19 resource for businesses
- In addition to the BCAP supports, EDC's Credit Insurance program will cover losses for goods shipped even if the buyer has not accepted the goods, subject to term (does not cover domestic support), as well as waive the 60-day waiting period for claims.
- EDC can also be reached at 1-800-229-0575. Current EDC customers needing working capital and financial solutions should contact their account manager.
Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)
The RRRF helps businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and to local economies. It is specifically targeted towards those that may require additional help to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic but have been unable to access existing support measures.
This fund includes two components:
- $675 million to support regional economies, businesses, organizations and communities in regions all across Canada;
- $287 million to support the national network of Community Futures Development Corporations, which will specifically target small businesses and rural communities across the country.
On October 2, it was announced that an additional $600 million will be invested in the fund, with more information to follow.
The support will be delivered through the appropriate local Regional Development Agency (RDA):
- Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA)
- Canada Economic Development for Quebec Regions (CED)
- Canadian Northern Economic Development Agency (CanNor)
- Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario)
- Federal Economic Development Initiative for Northern Ontario (FedNor)
- Western Economic Diversification Canada (WD)
- Regional Development Agencies have also adjusted certain criteria for their regular programs in response to the exceptional circumstances that businesses are facing. For example, since April 1, businesses have been able to defer their payments for current contribution agreements with their regional development agency for three months.
- Get help through your Regional Development Agency
Canada Infrastructure Bank's (CIB) Growth Plan
On October 1st, a $10 billion investment in new infrastructure initiatives was announced with details to follow in the coming weeks.
The Growth Plan will invest in five major initiatives:
- $2.5 billion for clean power to support renewable generation and storage and to transmit clean electricity between provinces, territories, and regions, including to northern and Indigenous communities.
- $2 billion to connect approximately 750,000 homes and small businesses to broadband in underserved communities, so Canadians can better participate in the digital economy.
- $2 billion to invest in large-scale building retrofits to increase energy efficiency and help make communities more sustainable.
- $1.5 billion for agriculture irrigation projects to help the agriculture sector enhance production, strengthen Canada's food security, and expand export opportunities.
- $1.5 billion to accelerate the adoption of zero-emission buses and charging infrastructure so Canadians can have cleaner commutes.
To accelerate the delivery of projects in which the CIB intends to invest, it will also allocate $500 million for project development and early construction works.
Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)
- CECRA provides relief for small businesses — including non-profit and charitable organizations —experiencing financial hardship due to COVID-19. It offers unsecured, forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners to:
- reduce the rent owed by their impacted small business tenants
- meet operating expenses on commercial properties
- Property owners must offer a minimum of a 75% rent reduction for the months of April, May, June, July, August and September 2020.
- CECRA will cover 50 % of the rent, with the tenant paying up to 25 % and the property owner forgiving at least 25 %.
- Applications are accepted through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) website.
- Assistance has been extended to help small businesses pay rent for September. This will be the final extension of this program as the government explores options to support small businesses as they face the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Deadline to Opt-in is October 30, 2020.
Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)
- LEEFF provides bridge financing to companies with revenues in excess of $300 million a year.
- Eligible companies could receive $60 million or more to boost liquidity and prepare for a post-COVID-19 recovery.
- Large enterprises that meet the qualifying criteria for LEEFF may begin an application by completing the online enquiry form here and sending it to email@example.com.
Sector-specific measures include:
- Up to $1.72 billion to the governments of Alberta, Saskatchewan, and British Columbia, and to the Alberta Orphan Well Association, to clean up orphan and inactive oil and gas wells.
- Up to $750 million for a new Emissions Reduction Fund to support workers and reduce emissions in Canada's oil and gas sector, with a focus on methane.
- Details on when the Fund will open have not been released; however, the website has a sign-up to receive updates and notifications about the program.
- This fund will provide primarily repayable contributions to conventional and offshore oil and gas firms to support their investments to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Of this amount, $75 million will be allocated to the offshore sector.
- An enhancement to Farm Credit Canada (FCC) to allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors.
The Northern Business Relief Fund (NBRF) provides short-term support in the form of a non-repayable grant, for ongoing operational costs to small- and medium-sized territorial businesses impacted by economic disruptions due to COVID-19.
Support for Indigenous businesses
- Up to $306.8 million in funding to help small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses and to support Aboriginal Financial Institutions that offer financing to these businesses.
- Financial support for Indigenous businesses will be provided through Aboriginal Financial Institutions, and administered by the National Aboriginal Capital Corporations Association and the Métis capital corporations in partnership with Indigenous Services Canada.
- Up to $40,000 will be available to small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses:
- an interest-free loan up to $30,000
- a non-repayable contribution up to $10,000
- Contact your Aboriginal Financial Institution to apply for support.
- Up to $40,000 will be available to small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses:
- Announced on April 18 with details to follow.
Support for young entrepreneurs
- $20.1 million in support for Futurpreneur Canada to continue supporting young entrepreneurs across Canada. The funding will allow Futurpreneur Canada to provide payment relief for its clients for up to 12 months.
Support for youth – Green Jobs in the Natural Resource Sectors
- $15.8 million to create green jobs and training opportunities for Canadian youth in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in the energy, forestry, mining, earth sciences and clean technology sectors.
- Organizations will provide 500 green job internships, ranging from six to 12 months in length, for youth to gain valuable on-the-job experience and explore careers in the natural resources sectors.
Foresight's COVID-19 Restart and Resilience
- Foresight Cleantech Accelerator Centre, a leading industry accelerator for the cleantech industry in Western Canada, has a new program for the growing number of early-stage cleantech companies navigating challenges related to the COVID-19 health and economic crisis. Funded by the Industrial Research Assistance Program (IRAP), National Research Council Canada / Government of Canada, the program is free and available immediately to qualifying Canadian cleantech companies.
- Includes increased business Executive-in-Residence mentorship support, curated information series, specialized training, working groups to support key issues around financing, grant writing and supply chain challenges and proactive investor readiness planning and profiling.
5. What is the Government of Canada doing to address companies' concerns regarding delays in Scientific Research and Experimental Development (SR&ED) Program audits and payments?
The Government of Canada has heard from companies that delays in SR&ED Program audits (and payments) are having adverse affects on their already strained operations.
As described in Canada Revenue Agency's (CRA) March 31 announcement: (CRA):
- It will generally not contact small or medium businesses (SMEs) to initiate any post-assessment GST/HST or income tax audits for a four-week period following the announcement.
- Interaction with taxpayers will be limited to high risk and exceptional cases, or cases of high-risk GST/HST refund claims which require some contact before they can be paid out.
- Other audits are temporarily suspended.
The CRA's COVID-19 approach outlined in the announcement above reflects a balance between the CRA's efforts to mitigate health risks while continuing to deliver benefits to Canadians.
- SR&ED program administrators recognize the severe pressure the crisis is having on all Canadians, including innovators. The program is doing everything that it can in order to ensure that claimants receive the credits to which they are entitled as soon as possible.
- The program is working to help Regional Tax Service Office (TSO) staff receive the support and guidance necessary to prioritise the processing of refundable claims.
- Claimants experiencing financial hardship who wish to discuss their claim with the CRA may choose to do so by contacting the SR&ED Program in their Regional TSO.
As of May 4th, and since the beginning of the pandemic on March 16th, the SR&ED Program has processed approximately $360 million in refundable credits, providing much needed financial support to claimants. The Program has also processed approximately $185 million in non-refundable investment tax credits.
6. My company has the ability to produce medical equipment and would like to work with the Government of Canada on the COVID-19 response efforts. What can we do?
- The Government of Canada launched an online hub to bring together available resources for organizations buying and selling personal protective equipment (PPE).
- If your facility is already producing relevant materials or services, please complete this online form.
- If your facility or employees could potentially re-tool toward producing relevant supplies or services, find out here how you can help.
- If your company is working on pre-commercial technologies or research with potential relevance to the fight against COVID-19, you can find our more information and/or register to participate in challenge-based initiatives here. Learn more about the National Research Council's COVID-19 community support initiatives.
The Department of National Defence is looking for novel ideas and innovative solutions, under the Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEaS) Program, to resolve specific COVID-19 challenges.
Innovative Solutions Canada has dedicated funding to develop new solutions or test existing innovations that can help fight COVID-19.
7. My company has a contribution agreement and/or work agreement with a federal department and may be unable to fulfill this agreement. What should we do?
If your company has a contribution agreement or work commitment with a federal department or agency and is concerned about fulfilling that agreement, you should talk to your advisor/officer in the program or service as soon as possible.
The Government of Canada recognizes that the COVID-19 crisis has created significant strain on Canadian businesses and is enabling flexibility wherever possible.
You should be aware of any changes to the requirements/schedules of your existing financial agreements when developing your continuity plan and/or asks for any emergency capital.
8. Where can I go for additional information on support for businesses impacted by COVID-19?
Managing your business during COVID-19 is a compilation of federal supports for businesses.
Innovation Canada has a web platform that provides links to measures targeted at businesses affected by COVID-19. This platform links to the federal measures described in the main site, and includes some of those offered by provinces and territories.
ExploreIP, an online resource for businesses to explore possible licensing and collaboration opportunities with public sector patent holders, now has a "COVID-19 related" category to help users find patents and licences for technologies that could help combat COVID-19.
Canada's Trade Commissioner Service (TCS) has experts in 160 cities worldwide who help Canadian businesses navigate international markets. Given the evolving impacts of the COVID-19 on international trade, Canadian firms may face disruptions to their international business and supply chains, or experience unforeseen border, regulatory and transportation issues. For guidance related to specific countries and markets, businesses should send a message through TCS general enquiries.
Canada Revenue Agency
Bank of Canada
Standards Council of Canada
- The Standards Council of Canada has compiled a list of relevant standards and testing that are essential to the COVID-19 response.
Canadian Business Resilience Network
- In partnership with the Government of Canada, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce established the Canadian Business Resilience Network to help Canadian businesses navigate the COVID-19 reality and prepare for recovery.
- Toolkit for Reopening Canada's Economy
Canadian Federation of Independent Businesses
Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)
- The COVID-19 Municipal Hub is a compilation of resources to support municipalities.
Public Health Agency of Canada
- Re-opening workplaces and restarting the economy requires clear, fact-based information on how to protect workers and prevent the spread of infection. Employers and employees both have a role to play to keep worksites safe. Visit Canada.ca/coronavirus for guidance documents.
- Risk mitigation tool for workplaces and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic
Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety
The Government of Canada announced a partnership with private sector organizations to help businesses reopen safely amid COVID-19: People Outside Safely Together (POST).
9. Can I get more information through webinars?
Clean tech accelerators and associations are holding free informational webinars to support innovators and businesses:
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
- Forging the way forward: How entrepreneurs are adapting to the pandemic. October 19. Register here.
- Succeeding in a new reality: Plan your way out of the COVID-19 crisis. October 20. Register here.
- COVID-19: How to adapt your business to thrive in the new normal. Recorded webinar.
- How to cope with the impacts of COVID-19 on your business. Recorded webinar.
- Planning for recovery: How to restart you business in the wake of COVID-19. Recorded webinar.
Export Development Canada (EDC)
- Global Economic Outlook with Peter Hall. June 26. Info.
- COVID-19: Get financing and support for your business. Recorded webinar.
- Stay tuned to the Globe Series page for future online events.
- Maximizing Funding Potential Workshop (hosted by ERA and Alberta Innovates). July 21-22. Info
- Innovation Pathways and Transition Finance Towards Future-Fit Hydrocarbons. June 29. Recording
- Business Not as Usual: The Circular Economy as a Post-COVID Recovery and Resiliency Strategy (featuring Environment and Climate Change Canada). May 21. Recording.
Foresight Companies Webinar Series
- Stay tuned to the Foresight Events page for future webinars.
- Scaling Cleantech: Financial Mechanisms to Attract Scale Up Financing, June 30. Info
- Future of Environmental Markets: How to win as a Cleantech Company. June 23. Info
- The Green New Deal: A special online event with Jeremy Rifkin. May 12. Recording (Password: 6o#!&a!Y)
- Cleantech Recovery and Stimulus: Insights from Stakeholders. May 5. Info.
- Cleantech Recovery and Stimulus: Insights from Stakeholders (EDC, NRC IRAP). April 28. Presentation slides.
- Cleantech Recovery and Stimulus: Insights from Stakeholders. April 21. Presentation slides.
- Resources and Discussion on COVID-19 #4. April 14. Presentation slides.
- Resources and Discussion on COVID-19 #3. April 7. Presentation slides.
- Resources and Discussion on COVID-19 #2. March 31. Presentation slides.
MaRS Cleantech Webinar Series
- Clean Slate: Spurring Growth by Supporting Canada's Cleantech Startups. October 8. Register here.
- Stay tuned to the MaRS Events page for future webinars.
- Returning to the Workplace During COVID-19. June 24. Info
- Adapting New Business Models Amidst COVID-19. May 26. Info
- The role for cleantech in economic stimulus and recovery. April 15. Recorded webinar.
- How to raise Seed capital during the COVID-19 crisis and beyond. April 8. Recorded webinar.
- Accessing Capital during the COVID-19 Crisis. April 1. Recorded webinar.
- Stay tuned to the Écotech Quebec's Events page for future webinars.
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