December 22, 2021
By Bob Peters
Cornwall Ontario – The Ontario government is introducing new supports for many of the businesses that are most impacted by public health measures in response to the Omicron variant. These supports include a new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program and a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes.
“Ontario businesses have already contributed so much to the province’s fight against COVID-19,” said Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance. “We recognize that these necessary capacity limits to reduce the transmission of the virus will impact businesses, and that’s why we are introducing these new supports, which will put money directly into the hands of business and free up their cash flows during this critical time.”
Through the new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program, eligible businesses will receive rebate payments equivalent to 50 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to the current capacity limits. This will provide support to businesses that are expected to be most impacted financially by the requirement to reduce capacity to 50 per cent. Examples of businesses that will be eligible for the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program include restaurants, smaller retail stores and gyms. A full list of eligible business types will be made available through a program guide in mid-January 2022.
Online applications for this program will open in mid-January 2022, with payments to eligible businesses provided retroactive to December 19, 2021. Businesses will be required to submit property tax and energy bills as part of the application process.
“I commend business owners for pivoting quickly as we respond to the Omicron variant in our continued fight against COVID-19,” said Todd Smith, Minister of Energy. “It is essential that we support them during their time of need, and that’s why our new rebate program will provide them with the support they need right now on their energy bills.”
The province is also providing additional support to help improve cash flows for Ontario businesses by providing a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes, supporting businesses in the immediate term while capacity restrictions are in place while providing the flexibility Ontario businesses will need for long-term planning. The six-month period will begin January 1, 2022 and end July 1, 2022.
This measure will provide up to $7.5 billion in relief to help approximately 80,000 Ontario businesses. With this help, approximately 80,000 businesses will have the option to delay their payments for the following provincially administered taxes, helping them free up cash flow during these challenging times:
- Employer Health Tax
- Beer, Wine & Spirits Taxes
- Tobacco Tax
- Insurance Premium Tax
- Fuel Tax
- International Fuel Tax Agreement
- Gas Tax
- Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts & Benefit Plans
- Mining Tax
- Race Tracks Tax
As provinces across Canada grapple with the emergence of the Omicron variant, Ontario is also calling on the federal government to strengthen federal support programs to ensure businesses and workers have the support they need to weather this new challenge. This includes adjusting the eligibility requirements for the Government of Canada’s Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program and the Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program to ensure more impacted businesses can apply, while also ensuring that businesses experiencing partial capacity restrictions can qualify for the Local Lockdown Program.
Ontario is also inviting the federal government to work together with the province to further help businesses that are struggling with cash flow challenges, by developing a program that would allow hard hit businesses to temporarily defer the remittance of HST, starting with a commitment to allow eligible businesses to defer HST collected in December, interest-free, for a period of up to six months.
- The Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program builds on previous business support programs, including the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, the Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebates, and the Ontario Tourism and Travel Small Business Support Grant.
- The new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will not be automatically delivered to businesses that received previous COVID-19 support payments. Businesses must submit an application to be considered when application intake opens in mid-January 2022.
- Ontario is taking further action to support businesses and workers during this challenging time, including cutting wholesale alcohol prices to provide approximately $60 million in annual support to restaurants, bars and other businesses, and extending COVID-19 paid sick days until July 31, 2022 to keep workers safe and ensure they do not lose pay if they need to miss work for reasons related to COVID-19.
- Ontario has enabled an estimated $10.1 billion in support to Ontario businesses in 2021, with more than 60 per cent, or $6.3 billion, going to small businesses.
- Supporting a reduction in Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) premiums
- Allowing businesses to accelerate write-offs of capital investments for tax purposes
- Reducing the small business Corporate Income Tax rate to 3.2 per cent
- Introducing and temporarily enhancing the Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit to encourage investments in certain regions of Ontario that have lagged in employment growth in the past
- Lowering high Business Education Tax (BET) rates for job creators;
- Increasing the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption from $490,000 to $1 million
- Lowering electricity bills through measures such as the Renewable Cost Shift program, with the Province paying for a portion of high-priced, non-hydro renewable energy contracts
- Providing targeted COVID-19 support through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which delivered $3 billion in urgent and unprecedented support to over 110,000 small businesses across the province.