Things to know about financial assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic



Maintaining the integrity of the agri-food supply chain during an emergency is essential for all Canadians. The Government of Canada has made regular announcements on measures and programs to support producers and agri-businesses, as well as all businesses and employees more generally, facing financial hardship due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. To determine your eligibility for current and recently released financial assistance programs, please contact your financial institution, accountant, and/or lender. For further information about the Government of Canada’s response to COVID-19 as it pertains to the agriculture and agri-food sector, please visit their webpage. To learn more about how the Government of Ontario is working to stop the spread of COVID-19, please visit their webpage.


Farm Credit Canada (FCC) has received support from the Government of Canada that allows for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity to producers, agri-businesses and food processors. FCC is collaborating with banks, credit unions and other institutions to alleviate industry financial pressure. For existing customers, FCC will allow for deferral of principal and interest payments up to six months for existing loans, or a deferral of principal payments up to 12 months. For existing customers and to all other Canadian producers, agri-businesses and food processors, FCC has introduced a line of credit up to $500,000. FCC has expanded their offerings to include term loans up to $2.5 million, with no fees and an 18-month interest-only option available over a 10-year amortization. If producers, agri-businesses or processors currently have a loan with FCC, they are encouraged to contact their local FCC office or FCC lender with questions. For local office contact information, please visit their webpage. If producers, agri-businesses and processors currently do not have a loan with FCC but are interested in their offered programs, they are encouraged to call FCC Customer Service at 1-888-332-3301. For more information on changes to FCC’s programs, please visit their webpage.


The Advance Payments Program (APP) is a federal loan guarantee program which provides producers access up to $1,000,000 per program year in advances based on the value of their agricultural product, with the Government of Canada paying the interest on the first $100,000 advanced to the producer. Advances are repaid as the producer sells their agricultural product, with up to 24 months to fully repay the advance. All eligible producers who have an outstanding Advanced Payments Program (APP) loan due on or before April 30, 2020, will receive a Stay of Default. The Stay of Default will allow for an additional six months to repay the outstanding loan. Producers should contact their APP administer to inquire about eligibility for a Stay of Default. The new deadline for outstanding APP loans is September 30, 2020, for 2018 cash advances for cattle. Applicable producers who still have outstanding interestfree loans will have the opportunity to apply for an additional $100,000 interest-free portion for 2020-2021 as long as their total APP advances remain under the $1 million cap. For more infromation, please visit the APP webpage.


Ontario’s Risk Management Program (RMP) provides financial assistance when market commodity prices fall below established support levels for eligible livestock and grains and oilseeds. On April 1, 2020, the Government of Ontario announced that producers will have until June 30, 2020, to apply for or make changes to coverage under RMP for livestock and gains and oilseeds. The deadline was extended to ensure producers have more time to make business decisions and to assess their program coverage needs. Agricorp did send renewals to livestock producers in February, 2020. Livestock producers can renew online by signing in to, or they can request coverage changes by email at or by fax to 519-826-4118. For more information, please visit Agricorp’s webpage.


The Agri-Invest program allows producers to make an annual deposit into an account based on their allowable net sales (ANS). Each year, you can deposit up to 100% of your ANS, with the first 1% matched by governments. The limit on matching government contributions is $10,000 per year. Participants can withdraw funds from their account at any time after the matching funds have been received. Producers reporting farming income for tax purposes are eligible. However, a yearly minimum ANS of $25,000 is required to trigger the minimum matchable deposit of $250. Sales of supply-managed commodities are excluded from the ANS calculation. For more information, please visit the Agri-Invest program webpage.


The Agri-Stability program is a whole-farm, margin-based program available to eligible producers regardless of the commodities they produce. For an overview of how the program works, visit the Understanding AgriStability powerpoint. The deadline to enroll in or renew participation in AgriStability, and to pay the associated fees has been extended to July 3, 2020 without penalty. Coverage will be automatically renewed and the associated fees will be expected to be paid if Agricorp has not heard from the participant by July 3, 2020. Participants may defer their fee, with a 20% increase, until December 31, 2020, but still must notify Agricorp of their enrollment by July 3, 2020. For more information, please visit the Agri-Stability program webpage. To review how your AgriStability benefits are calculated, please see the Agri-Stability Benefit Estimator.

As a result of the fluctuating situation posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the interim payments have been increased from 50% to 75%. To apply for an AgriStability interim payment, you must complete and submit the interim payment application form. To submit the interim payment application form, please email it to Agricorp at with the subject heading “AgriStability interim payment application” or print and fax the form to 519-826-4118. Agricorp will contact customers who have already received a 2020 AgriStability interim payment to determine if they want to receive an increase in their interim payments. The deadline to apply for an interim payment is December 31, 2020.


The Government of Canada will be launching a national AgriRecovery initiative of up to $125 million in funding for set-aside programs for beef and pork sectors to manage processing backlogs. The aim of the program is to cover extraordinary expenses not covered by other programs. In part, the Government of Canada will allocate $50 million to a beef set-aside program to manage surplus cattle. The $50 million provided by the Government of Canada is the 60% federal share, and each province has been encouraged to contribute the remaining 40%. The program has been made more flexible to ensure the 60% committed by the Government of Canada is available to producers regardless of whether the provinces and territories commit to cost-share the additional 40%. For more information, please see the Prime Minister’s announcement.


Until August 31, 2020, all businesses can defer the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. For more information, please visit the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) COVID-19 updates webpage.


Until the end of June 2020, the CRA will allow all businesses to defer any GST/HST payments or remittances that become owing on or after March 27, 2020, and before June 2020. This means that no interest will apply if your payments or remittances are made by the end of June 2020. The deadline for businesses to file their returns is unchanged. Those who are able to should continue to file their GST/HST returns on time and report their net tax for the reporting period to help facilitate tax compliance and administration. However, recognizing the difficult circumstances faced by businesses, the CRA won’t impose penalties when a return is filed late, provided that it is filed by June 30, 2020. For more information, please visit the CRA GST/HST frequently asked questions webpage.


The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) is a temporary wage subsidy for employers. Eligible employers include individuals, taxable corporations, partnerships consisting of eligible employers, non‑profit organizations, and registered charities, and those that see a drop of at least 15% of their revenue in March 2020 and 30% for the following months. The CEWS will cover up to 75%, for 24 weeks, of an employee’s salary on the first $58,700 earned, amounting to up to $847 a week. Funds will be retroactive to March 15, 2020. If able, employers should pay employees the remaining 25% of salaries. The program will be in place for a 24-week period, from March 15, 2020 to August 29, 2020.The CEWS may be available to cover the wages of family employees and contract workers, depending on whether these individuals have been reported and paid as business employees during the specified period. To determine your eligibility, please consult your accountant and the CEWS calculator. Applications for the CEWS will close in October 2020. For more information, please visit the CEWS webpage.

Employers eligible for the CEWS are entitled to receive a 100% refund for certain employer contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan paid in respect of employees who are on leave with pay. For employers that are eligible for both the CEWS and the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for a period, any benefit from the Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period will generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the CEWS in that same period.


Businesses and organizations that do not qualify for the CEWS may qualify for the wage subsidy of 10% of remuneration paid from March 18, 2020, to before June 20, 2020. The Temporary Wage Subsidy for Employers is a three-month measure that will allow eligible employers to reduce the amount of payroll deductions required to be remitted to the CRA. The subsidy is equal to 10% of the remuneration you pay from March 18, 2020, to June 19, 2020, for up to $1,375 for each eligible employee and to a maximum of $25,000 total per employer. Eligible employers are individuals, partnerships, non-profit organizations, charities, and Canadian-controlled private corporations (including cooperative corporations) that are eligible for the small business deduction, that have an existing business number and payroll program account with the CRA on March 18, 2020, and that pay salary, wages, bonuses or other remuneration to an eligible employee. For more information, please visit the CRA’s frequenty asked questions webpage.


The Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) provides $2,000 every four weeks, for up to 16 weeks, to eligible workers who have lost most or all of their income as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The CERB covers Canadians who have lost their job or are sick, quarantined, or taking care of someone who is sick with COVID-19, as well as working parents who must stay home without pay to care for children who are sick or at home because of school and daycare closures. The CERB is available to workers who live in Canada and are at least 15 years old, have stopped working because of COVID-19 or are eligible for employment insurance benefits (EI) regular or sickness benefits, have not voluntarily quit their job, and had income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application.

The eligibility criteria now allow for workers to earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting CERB. CERB will be extended to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work because of COVID-19. CERB will also be extended to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits or EI fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020, and/or workers who are unable to find a job because of COVID-19. You can apply for CERB online through the CRA or Service Canada, or by calling 1‑800‑959‑2019 or 1‑800‑959‑2041. For more information, please visit the Department of Finance Canada’s CERB webpage.


The Agri-Food Open for E-Business targeted intake aims to help businesses/organizations quickly expand their marketing channels and respond to new market challenges, increase online sales in the sector and provide consumers with access to more local food. This targeted application intake features two funding streams: Bring Your Business Online (provides a grant of up to $5,000 to eligible organizations/businesses to help establish an online presence) and Develop Online Business Opportunities (provides cost-share funding for up to 90% of eligible costs to a maximum of $75,000 to develop e-business opportunities on a larger scale). To be eligible, an applicant must be involved in the agriculture, agri-food and agri-products sectors; be in compliance with all Requirements of Law and agree to remain in compliance with all Requirements of Law for the duration of the project; be a legal entity capable of entering into an agreement with the Province of Ontario; provide a CRA business number as part of the application process; and be engaged in the project and be contributing cash towards the project. For more information, please visit the program webpage.


In recognition of the particular demand the COVID-19 pandemic has placed on low-income workers in certain sectors, including those on the front-line in hospitals and nursing homes, those ensuring the integrity of the food supply, or those providing essential retail services to Canadians, who make less than $2,500 a month on a full-time basis, and who may have salaries that are less than or similar to what they would receive from the CERB, the Government of Canada has announced that they will work with provinces and territories to cost-share a temporary top-up to the salaries of these workers. Details on the application and delivery of this measure have yet to be released. For more information, please see the Prime Minister’s announcement.


The Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) was established to provide $40 billion of additional support through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). The BDC and EDC are working with private sector lenders to coordinate on credit solutions for individual businesses. This program includes a loan guarantee for small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), where EDC is working with financial institutions to issue new operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million and a co-lending program for SMEs operational cashflow requirements. Interested businesses are encouraged to work with their financial institutions to determine eligibility. For more information, please visit the Department of Finance Canada’s program webpage.


The Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) is an interest-free loan of $40,000 for small business and nonprofit organizations. Up to $10,000 of that amount will be eligible for complete forgiveness if $30,000 is fully repaid on or before December 31, 2022. To qualify, businesses and organizations will need to demonstrate that they paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in total payroll in 2019. To apply, organizations are encouraged to contact their financial institutions or credit unions. For more information, please visit the program’s webpage.

The eligibility criteria have been extended to businesses and organizations who pay less than $20,000 in payroll, pay employees in dividends, and are owner-operated or sole proprietorships. Applicants who pay less than $20,000 in payroll would need a small business operating account at a participating institution, a CRA business number, to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return, and eligible non-deferable expenses between $40,000 and $1.5 million. Eligible non-deferable expenses could include costs such as rent, property taxes, utilities, and insurance. On August 6, 2020, the federal government announced a new non-deferable expense category which expands the eligibility for several expenses, including seed and livestock feed. Expenses will be subject to verification and audit by the Government of Canada. Funding will be delivered in partnership with financial institutions. Applications under the extended eligibility criteria will open on June 19, 2020. To apply, please visit the program’s webpage.


The Government of Canada has provided $287 million the Community Futures Network to allow rural businesses and communities access to capital. This funding will be allocated towards smaller employers and businesses located in rural parts of Canada who do not qualify for the recently announced wage subsidies or loans, and who still need assistance in managing their operations. Details on the application and delivery of this measure have yet to be released. For more information, please visit Canada’s Regional Development Agencies webpage.


Canadian banks have committed to work with their customers on a case-by-case basis to find solutions to help them manage hardships caused by COVID-19. This includes permitting lenders to defer up to six monthly mortgage payments (interest and principal) for impacted borrowers. Canadians who are impacted by COVID-19 and experiencing financial hardship as a result should contact their financial institution regarding flexibility for a mortgage deferral. Before calling or visiting your branch, check their website for their latest updates.


The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program for small businesses will seek to provide loans and/or forgivable loans to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April 2020 (retroactive), May 2020, and June 2020. Under the program, the federal and provincial governments will cover 50% of rent, while the property owner will cover 25%, leaving 25% to be paid by tenants. The government portion will be cost shared, with the federal government bearing 75% of the cost of the program, while the remaining 25% of the program will be paid by the provinces. This program will be available in mid-May for small businesses, charities and non-profits who pay $50,000 per month or less in rent, and who have seen at least a 70% drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. Property owners will be provided forgivable loans to the amount of 50% of three-monthly rent payments, through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This will be granted in exchange for the reduction of rent by 75% and a moratorium on evictions. Applications will be accepted through the CMHC website beginning on May 25, 2020. For more information, please see the CMHC website.


As part of the Ontario government’s $1.9 billion in relief for employers, the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will defer premium payments for six months for all businesses in the province. Additionally, the WSIB will cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments. They will not charge penalties during this six-month deferral period. There will be no negative consequences for businesses who defer premium reporting and payments. The WSIB will continue to fully cover workers at eligible workplaces. For more information, please visit the WSIB financial relief webpage.


The Youth Employment and Skills Program (YESP) provides a wage subsidy to employers who hire youth for agricultural jobs. The program offers support for 50% of wages up to a maximum of $14,000. The program offers 100% of the costs of addressing employment barriers, such as relocation, to a maximum of $5,000. Employers can apply on or after May 26, 2020 for their project to be considered. To qualify, the employee must be 30 years of age or younger when starting the internship, be unemployed or underemployed, a student or a previous intern of any Youth Employment and Skills Strategy program, and a Canadian citizen or permanent resident. The projects must be completed by March 31, 2021. Examples of eligible projects include planting or harvest crops and managing livestock. For further information about the program and the application process, please visit the YESP webpage.


The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) provides interest-free loans to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and they have been unable to access other Government of Canada funding measures. The Federal Development Agency (FedDev) of Southern Ontario is delivering $252.4 million through $213 million for SMEs facing financial pressure (FedDev Ontario funding). To be eligible for the FedDev Ontario funding, the applicant must be a Canadian or provincially incorporated business, co-operative or an Indigenous-owned business located in Southern Ontario with one to 499 full-time equivalent employees; be facing funding pressures with fixed operating costs as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic; have been a viable business before the COVID-19 pandemic and plan to continue to operate their business or resume operations; and have already applied to other Government of Canada emergency credit relief measures for which they are eligible, as outlined in the program guidelines. Applicants can submit a request for funding support for fixed operating costs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Examples of fixed operating costs include leases on machinery or equipment, property taxes, bank charges and interest payments, insurance payments, and rent. For more information and to apply, please visit the program’s webpage.

FedDev is providing rural businesses with access to capital and business support, delivered by southern Ontario’s Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs). To provide targeted assistance to the small towns and communities they serve, CFDCs will assist businesses of strategic importance to their communities with loans up to $40,000. Each CFDC is managing its own application and selection process in accordance with the parameters set out in the RRRF, and will determine ultimate funding recipients in accordance with its own policies and procedures. To find out more about RRRF funding available through this stream, contact your local CFDC or consult the CFDC directory.


The RRRF is a special one-time relief fund established by the Government of Canada to support businesses and organizations economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. It will help to address gaps left by other measures as part of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, and complement those already provided by other levels of government, as well as take into account regional needs and realities. A total of $49.5 million has been allocated in support of Northern Ontario businesses and organizations, and will be allocated through two funding streams: the regional economy stream and the community futures stream.

The regional economies stream of the RRRF will support vulnerable businesses and eligible not-for-profit organizations that are impacted by the economic disruption associated with the COVID-19 pandemic. Applicants are eligible to receive up to 100 percent of total eligible bridge support costs, covering up to a six-month period. The RRRF will provide repayable and conditionally repayable contributions to eligible SMEs, up to a maximum of $250,000. The applicant must have confirmed and attested that their SME is not eligible for other assistance programs; is an agri-food business and is of significant importance to a community, region or supply chain; was in a positive financial position prior to the COVID-19 pandemic; the degree to which the COVID-19 has impacted business and job maintenance; their strengths with equity and diversity; and the context of the region or community. To be eligible, applicants must be an incorporated company, corporation or co-operative, or and Indigenous organization; be located or operating in Northern Ontario; ineligible for/or have been rejected from current Government of Canada COVID-19 relief supports and/or demonstrate the need for incremental support; employ between one and 499 individuals on a full-time basis in Canada; and have been negatively impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible project costs, as well as the project activities, must be reasonable and directly related to assisting the SME stay solvent over a period of six months and/or begin preparing for recovery beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Eligible costs are retroactive to March 15, 2020 and include commercial rent, rent of machinery or equipment, bank interest, vehicle operating expenses, insurance, property tax and the list continues. For a full list of expenses and the more information on the application process, please visit the program webpage.

FedNor is partnering with Northern Ontario’s 24 CFDCs to deliver $25.5 million in RRRF support directly to small businesses and entrepreneurs in rural areas. This includes sole proprietorships or partnerships not covered under the regional economy stream. Each CFDC is managing its own application and selection process in accordance with the parameters set out in the RRRF, and will determine ultimate funding recipients in accordance with its own policies and procedures. To find out more about RRRF funding available through this stream, contact your local CFDC or consult the CFDC directory.


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