Federal and Provincial COVID-19 Support Programs

by Glen Snoek


Please note, you are not allowed to receive more than 100% of reimbursement of a specific expense. You are encouraged to review programs carefully, including timing of eligible expenses, to determine how to allocate their eligible expenses incurred this spring across the programs.

May 22, 2020: Update Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program (MISTFWP)

You are now able to apply online to receive up to $1,500 per TFW under the MISTWFP.

The MISTFWT is a one-time $50-million program to help with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on food supply in Canada by assisting the farming, fish harvesting, and food production and processing sectors. The program is designed to help employers cover some of the incremental costs associated with the mandatory 14-day isolation period imposed under the Quarantine Act on temporary foreign workers upon entering Canada.

There has been significant confusion on the criteria for this funding program. We have clarified with them some of the guiding principles of the program which should help to ease concerns.

  • Employers are eligible to receive a maximum subsidy of $1500 per worker provided that they have averaged this amount of expenses over the entirety of their isolated workforce. They will be looking at total additional expenses averaged over all isolated workers.
  • This only applies to workers in the initial 14-day isolation period and not those that need to isolate subsequently.
  • All incremental expenses will be eligible even if they are not included in the list. This does not include any expenses that you would have normally incurred to bring your workforce to Canada. (i.e. flights)
  • You will need to declare your total expenses but will not need to provide detailed records upon submission.
  • Employers are asked to maintain records should they ever be selected for audit or verification in the future.
  • Expenses are retroactive to March 26, 2020 and run to June 30, 2020 (the date on which the current special order under the Quarantine Act is set to expire).
  • You must apply to the program before June 30, 2020 and submit all claim(s) to the program by August 14, 2020.
  • Applicants will be required to disclose if they received funding from provincial/territorial governments or any other third-party organization, as the maximum non-repayable contribution of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker may be adjusted to reflect the employers out of pocket costs.
  • Employers must comply with the mandatory 14-day isolation protocols, any other public health order and the regulations of the Temporary Foreign Workers Program for the duration of the 14-day isolation period. Employers must also comply with regulations concerning wages and other employment conditions of the program or stream they hired their temporary foreign workers through (for example, Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program, Temporary Foreign Worker Program) during the mandatory 14-day isolation. Should Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada become aware of an employer breaching any part of those requirements, the recipient will no longer be eligible for the funding. Any amounts already paid to the recipient will become repayable debts to the Crown.


  • Growers should submit one application covering all of their incoming TFWs up to June 30th
  • You can submit claims along the way, or at the end
  • In-kind expenses are eligible – AAFC is clarifying the details for this
  • AAFC can email a non-fillable form or mail a hardcopy to the applicant.  Contact them to request one: Email:MISP-PAIO.aac@canada.ca  Telephone: 1-877-246-4682

May 28, 2020: AAFC provided a list of federal economic supports: Canada’s response during the COVID-19 pandemic – Information and implications for the Agriculture and Agri-Food Sector

May 28, 2020 – WSPS CAP-Funded COVID-19 Consulting and Training for Agricultural Producers

The governments of Canada and Ontario are partnering with the Workplace Safety & Prevention Services (WSPS), to provide agri-food businesses, organizations and associations with educational resources, tools and consulting services to help them meet COVID-19 health and safety requirements. Through the Canadian Agricultural Partnership, WSPS will receive up to $500,000 to deliver two key services.

First, it will develop and introduce industry-specific COVID-19 resources for farm businesses and provincially-licensed meat plants, including a toolkit to help manage the risks of COVID-19 in these operations. (see below)

Second, the WSPS will provide consulting services to Ontario farmers, farm organizations and provincially-licensed meat processors to help them COVID-19 occupational health and safety requirements and guidelines. Their Account Managers are available to help you with the Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program – Agriculture Producers, as well as to address your health and safety concerns. Please reach out to Customer Care to be connected with an Account Manager today.

Additional details will be made available soon at the WSPS website: http://lp.wsps.ca/covid-19_and_farm_workers.html.

May 19th, 2020 – Canada Emergency Business Account

Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced an expansion to the eligibility criteria for CEBA. The program will now be available to a greater number of businesses that are 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.

  • Changed the eligibility to ensure farmers without payroll can now access the $40,000 interest-free loan available under CEBA – up to $10,000 of which is forgiven if the rest is repaid by December 31, 2022.
  • To qualify under the expanded eligibility criteria, applicants with payroll lower than $20,000 would need:
    • a business operating account at a participating financial institution (this has been flagged as a concern and AAFC is exploring options)
    • a Canada Revenue Agency business number, and to have filed a 2018 or 2019 tax return.
    • 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.
  • For those farmers who are still unable to access CEBA, they can turn towards the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (below).

May 14, 2020: Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program – Producers

OMAFRA announced a new funding program under the Canadian Agriculture Partnership to support growers address new and immediate health and safety issues directly related to COVID-19 impacts. The funding will cover 70% of eligible expenses up to $7,500/farm. Eligible expenses can be incurred starting May 14, 2020 and applications will be received on an ongoing basis as funding remains. Each farm business can only apply once.

Funding will fit within one of two categories:

    1. Occupational Health and Safety Measures: For projects to implement occupational health and safety measures related to COVID-19 on farms with intensive use of labour
      • Eligible expenses: Incremental expenses specifically required for the implementation of eligible activities, and incurred on or after May 14, 2020, for the following:
        • Minor capital (physical/infrastructure) and temporary or permanent modifications (e.g., reconfigurations, shielding, barriers) and rental of temporary structures to enable workers to practice social distancing
        • Personal protective equipment for staff (e.g., masks, gloves and other protective gear)
        • Medical equipment (e.g., body temperature remote sensors, thermometers and cameras; COVID-related testing equipment)
        • Services (e.g., services to perform medical checks)
        • Cleaning/disinfection to increase frequency and extent of cleaning (e.g., equipment, cleaning supplies, and/or third-party cleaning services)
    2. Enhancing Healthy Workforce Access and Accommodation: For projects to address workforce access and accommodations as a result of an on-farm outbreak of COVID-19
      • Eligible expenses: Incremental expenses specifically required for the implementation of eligible activities, and incurred on or after May 14, 2020, for the following:
        • Short-term accommodations (e.g., hotel, dorm rentals, cleaning and sanitation supplies) to enable social distancing best practices and allow workers to attend workplaces to the limit of $80.00 per day per employee
        • Work-site mobility and transportation to enable employees to access the work site while practicing social distancing best practices to the limit of $60.00 per day per employee

Full details and the application process can be accessed at: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/cap/capproducers.htm

May 14, 2020: Farm Credit Canada (FCC) $100-million Agriculture and Food Business Solutions Fund 

FCC launched a $100-million venture capital fund, in partnership with Forage Capital Inc., to support proven, viable companies through unexpected business disruptions, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.

In addition, FCC also recently invested more than $50 million into three new venture capital funds and provided funding to an innovation and growth accelerator to support various parts of Canada’s agriculture and food industry, including:

  • InvestEco Sustainable Food Fund – is a $100-million fund to invest in expansion-stage private companies with the goal of promoting health and sustainability in the food and agricultural sector. FCC’s commitment to this fund is $20 million.
  • District Ventures Fund – is a $100-million fund that focuses solely on investing in companies operating in the food and beverage sector, health, wellness and beauty consumer goods categories. FCC’s commitment to this fund is $20 million.
  • Ag Capital Canada Fund – is a $24-million fund aimed at discovering, developing and nurturing Canadian agricultural businesses through capital investment and entrepreneurial expertise. FCC’s commitment is $12 million, which represents 50 per cent of the fund.
  • Bioenterprise – is a non-profit corporation established in 2000 to provide accelerator, mentorship and support services for entrepreneurs and innovative companies in Canada’s agribusiness and agri-food sector. FCC committed $1.35 million in program support to facilitate expansion of Bioenterprises’ services to underserved areas across Canada.

May 13, 2020: Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)

The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) provides financial contributions (interest-free loans) to help support fixed operating costs of SMEs, where business revenues have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Fund, valued at more than $962 million nationally, is delivered by Canada’s six regional development agencies. FedDev Ontario is delivering $213 million to help relieve the economic impact of COVID-19 for small businesses and $39.4 million to support rural businesses through the Community Futures Development Corporations. Visit the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund page for more information and to apply.

$995,000 of this funding has been allocated to support businesses located in Essex County and can be accessed through the Business Resource Centre of Essex County, your local Community Futures Development Corporation. For more information visit https://ec-businessresourcecentre.ca/

May 13, 2020: AgriStability Benefit Calculator

Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada have created AgriStability Benefit Calculator that will help you determine the benefit you could receive. CHC is now recommending that growers use the online tool, and, if applicable, discuss with their accountant or financial advisor to determine if registering for AgriStability will provide support for them. The deadline to register for the program has been extended to July 3, 2020.

May 5, 2020: Supporting Canada’s farmers, food businesses, and food supply

On May 5, 2020, the Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, announced targeted support  for the agriculture and agri-food sector, including:

  • $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund
  • National AgriRecovery initiatives of up to $125 million
  • Surplus Food Purchase Program with an initial $50 million fund
  • Intention to work with provinces and territories to increase interim AgriStability payments and an expansion to the AgriInsurance program.

Enhancing Domestic Food Processing Capacity (Emergency Processing Fund) [$77.5]

  • Who is eligible/what is the criteria for this new temporary assistance for food processors?

This new temporary funding offers support to businesses associated with the production and processing of agricultural products impacted by COVID-19.

Applications will be assessed and ranked based on alignment against program parameters and their overall benefit and ability to achieve the key objectives of the program:

Mitigation Support: Funding to support the costs of implementing new measures to maintain operations and ensure the health and safety of workers, such as added sanitation and security requirements and installations for social distancing and wellness checks.

Production capacity: Investments to support repurposing or modernization of food processing plants or greenhouses to expand year-round food production, or increase overall production through additional product offering. Support investments to upgrade slaughter capacity for humane disposal of excess animals

 Automation Technologies: Investments in advanced manufacturing technologies to adapt processes and products to better respond to new market demands and reduce the need for temporary foreign workers.

Storage Capacity: Investments to increase various types of storage capacity for unsold inventory.

Labour costs and regular operating costs will not be eligible.

  • When can eligible businesses apply? How do they apply? When can they expect to receive payment?

Businesses associated with the production and processing of agricultural products will be invited to apply directly to AAFC. All funding is to be disbursed no later than Sept 30, 2020.

The details/criteria for these programs are still being finalized and will be shared with stakeholders as soon as possible.

May 5, 2020: Canada Business App

Support for businesses – Find COVID-19 support and other programs and services: Download Canada Business to see how easy it is to navigate government services, get recommendations tailored to your business, set up personalized notifications and find the answers you need to start up, scale up and access new markets.

April 24, 2020: OMAFRA Announces Agri-Food e-Business Support

The governments of Canada and Ontario are investing up to $2.5 million to help the agri-food sector expand online, providing more opportunities for producers to grow their business and offer more food choices for families who are shopping from home during the COVID-19 outbreak. For more information click here.

April 21, 2020: Government Launches Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Calculator for Employers

Today, the Government of Canada launched the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy calculator to support employers as they prepare to apply for the CEWS. The CEWS calculator can be found on the Canada Revenue Agency’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy Web page.

The CRA will open the application process on April 27, 2020. Funds for approved applications will begin to be released on May 5. The CRA web page includes detailed information and instructions about who can apply for the subsidy, how eligibility is assessed, and how the subsidy is calculated. The calculator also includes a printable statement feature that employers can use to view their claim at a glance and, as of April 27, enter required information into the CEWS application form quickly and easily.

The CRA is also encouraging employers to sign up for My Business Account or Represent a Client, as employers will be able to apply through these portals.

Reminder: Extension for the repayment of the loans from APP Program

Reminder: If you had an outstanding loan from the Advance Payments Program (APP) due on or before April 30, 2020, you will receive a Stay of Default, allowing you an additional six months to repay the loan.
The new deadline for outstanding APP loans is October 31, 2020: 2019 cash advances on flowers and potted plants.
For more details, please follow the links below:

Additional Resources

OMAFRA Greenhouse COVID Funding resources 

The attached PDF Fed-Prov Financial Support Options for COVID (PDF) contains a number of support programs by federal and provincial governments to help combat the financial impacts of the COVID-19 crisis. These are organized into three categories: Business Risk Management (BRM), Employer, and Employee-focused programs.

April 16, 2020: OFA Summary of govt financial assistance for Ontario Farmers 

April 16, 2020: CPMA Overview of government support programs

Flowers Canada Growers resource page.


Related Articles

Leave a Comment

nineteen − 17 =