COVID-19 Business Support Programs: What’s New for 2021

As part of Canada’s COVID-19 Action Plan, the Government of Canada is supporting businesses in British Columbia affected by the COVID-19 pandemic with a range of extensions and changes to COVID-19 support programs, including income supports, tax relief and funding for people, business and services.
Below is a list of business support programs that your business may be eligible to apply for, along with summaries of some of the changes the were recently announced in the Budget 2021 Plan*:
*This listing of supports may not be comprehensive and is subject to change. Please contact support providers directly for eligibility and application details.
Loans and Grants:
Launch Online Grant
To help businesses improve their e-commerce experience to attract new customers, this grant provides BC businesses with up to $7,500 to build an online store or booking system. Program application intake is open until September 30, 2021 or until the funds have been fully subscribed. See more here.
Small and Medium Sized Business Recovery Grant
Provides grants of $10,000 to $30,000 to support eligible BC businesses that employ up to 149 BC residents, and have experienced a decline in revenue of at least 30% since March 2020. An additional $5,000 to $15,000 grant is available to eligible tourism-related businesses. See more here.
Support for Women Entrepreneurs
The Vancity Unity Women Entrepreneurs Program offers loans up to $100,00 to women entrepreneurs who have been in business for more than one year, and businesses operating more than six months may qualify for a line of credit up to $20,000. See more here.
Support for Indigenous Businesses
Under the Indigenous Business Initiative, small and medium-sized Indigenous businesses may qualify for funding up to $60,000 including interest-free loans up to $40,000 and non-repayable
contributions up to $20,000. See more here.
Update: The federal government has proposed extending this program until June 30, 2021.
Wage Support:
Extending the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)
Set to expire in June 2021, if you’re a Canadian employer that has experienced a decline in revenue during the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be eligible for a subsidy to cover part of your employee wages.  A maximum subsidy rate of up to 75% of employee wages is available. 
Update: Budget 2021 proposes to extend the CEWS wage subsidy program until September 25, 2021, with the maximum subsidy rates gradually decreasing beginning July 4, 2021. See more here.
Temporarily Waiving the One-week Waiting Period for Employment Insurance Claims
This wage support program provides EI benefits to workers who agree to reduce their standard working hours due to developments beyond the control of their employers. In response to ongoing restrictions, the government announced that the waiting period would be waived for EI beneficiaries for those who establish a new claim between January 31, 2021, and September 25, 2021. See more here.
BC increased employment incentive
To encourage the creation of new jobs for BC, this employment incentive allows employers to apply for a one-time refundable tax credit. The credit is 15% of the amount that the employer’s total eligible remuneration for all eligible employees in the qualifying period exceeds the employer’s total eligible remuneration for all eligible employees in the base period. The deadline to apply is December 31, 2021. See more here
Rent Relief:
Extending the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)
The rent subsidy provides eligible organizations and tenants that have experienced a decline in revenue with direct and easy-to-access rent support revenue until June 2021.
Update: Budget 2021 proposes to extend the rent subsidy until September 25, 2021, with rent subsidy rates gradually decreasing beginning July 4, 2021. See more here.
Extending Lockdown Support
Lockdown Support provides organizations eligible for the rent subsidy with additional support if they are subject to a lockdown or must significantly restrict their activities under a public health order. 
Update: Budget 2021 proposes to extend the Lockdown Support until September 25, 2021. Should the economic and public health situation require further support beyond September 2021, the government will seek the legislative authority to have the ability to extend further the program through regulations until November 20, 2021. See more here.
Changes to Taxes:
Provincial Business Taxes – B.C. PST Rebate on Select Machinery and Equipment
This temporary provincial sales tax (PST) program allows corporations to apply to receive an amount equal to the PST they paid between September 17, 2020 and September 30, 2021 on qualifying machinery and equipment. Applications are now open. See more here.
Other Supports for Businesses:
Support for Self-Employed Individuals
In February 2021, the government increased the number of weeks available under the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) and the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) by 12 weeks to a total of 38 weeks.
Update: Budget 2021 proposes up to 12 additional weeks of Canada Recovery Benefit to a maximum of 50 weeks. The first four of these additional 12 weeks will be paid at $500 per week, and the remaining 8 weeks at $300 per week. See more here.
Update: Budget 2021 proposes to extend the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit an additional 4 weeks, to a maximum of 42 weeks, at $500 per week. See more here.
Have questions?
If you have questions about any of the above COVID-19 Business Support Programs, Small Business BC (SBBC) advisors are available Monday to Friday, from 9:00 am to 5:00 pm by phone, email and live chat.
Phone: 1-833-254-4357 (HELP)
Need help applying to a support program?
If you think your business can take advantage of any of the above business support programs, and need help from a member of our Nanaimo accountants team to complete your application, contact us today!