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.

Dec 1, 2020: Update Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) information 

Please find attached a slide deck with details on the RRRF for Southern Ontario. We expect the program is similar in other regions. The RRRF is intended to address gaps in other relief measures. Please see the deck for more information.

Nov 16, 2020: Update Government of Canada extends support program for farmers and processors to protect temporary foreign workers’ health and safety during pandemic

Minister of Agriculture and Agri-Food Marie-Claude Bibeau announced that the Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program will be extended until November 30, 2020. The decision follows the Government of Canada’s announcement to extend the Quarantine Act to the same date. The Act requires temporary foreign workers to undergo a mandatory 14-day isolation period upon arriving in Canada. Under the Program, the federal government will provide a maximum support of $1,500 for each temporary foreign worker, to employers who are required to isolate workers under the Quarantine Act. The funding is conditional on employers not being found in violation of the mandatory 14-day isolation protocols or any other public health order.

Oct 31, 2020: Update OMAFRA Enhanced Agri-Food Workplace Protection Program

OMAFRA has announced the details of the Enhanced workplace program. As a reminder, enhancements to the program will include:

  • Support for farmers and other operations to assist with costs for short-term accommodation and transportation related to preventative measures.
  • Doubling the amount that farmers can claim for preventative expenses to $15,000.
  • Support for eligible farm businesses which have incurred extraordinary costs related to workers who have needed to isolate due to a positive COVID-19 test result or orders from a public health authority.
  • Support of up to $100,000 for small capital projects including housing modifications, workplace modifications and equipment to allow greater physical distancing for workers.

Details and applications can be found here: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogram_guide3.htm

Oct 28, 2020: Updates to CEBA

The Government of Canada has announced that businesses operating out of non-business banking accounts are now able to access the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) by opening a business account.  This expanding eligibility to businesses using personal banking accounts. To be eligible, businesses must have been operating as a business as of March 1, 2020, must successfully open a business account at a Canadian financial institution that is participating in CEBA, and meet the other existing CEBA eligibility criteria. The extended deadline to apply for CEBA is December 31, 2020. Further details on the additional financing will be announced soon.

Agriculture and Agri-food Canada provides more detail specific to agriculture, indicating that the changes allow an estimated additional 36,566 farms nation-wide to access the CEBA, for a total of over 67,000 eligible farms across Canada. This equates to up to $2.68 billion in interest-free loans to Canadian farmers, 25% of which is forgivable. Each farmer can access up to $40,000 in interest-free loans, which, if paid off by the end of 2022, entitles the farmer up to $10,000 of that amount to be forgiven.

To access this additional financing, businesses and non-profit organizations will be required to provide an attestation to the serious impact of COVID-19 on their operations.

Oct 16, 2020 OMAFRA Funding Details

OMAFRA has provided further details on their Agri-food Workplace Protection Program that was announced:

  • Additional $7500 per farm (total $15,000) to install barriers, HVAC upgrades, hand-washing stations, PPE, transportation, temp housing etc.  http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogramguide.htm (not yet updated)
  • New project category for small capital projects up to $100k (Details in late Oct.)
  • New project category to cover extraordinary costs related to workers who needed to isolate due to a positive COVID-19 test result or orders from a public health authority and will provide support for:
    • Reimbursement to eligible employers for out-of-pocket wages paid directly to employees who were unable to work for reasons such as a positive COVID-19 test result or asymptomatic isolation. This funding will be accessible after all other funding supports have been exhausted by other available programming such as Workplace Safety and Insurance Board, Federal Canada Emergency Response Benefit or Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit program.
    • Reimbursement to eligible farm businesses whose workers have tested positive for COVID-19 and have subsequently incurred costs to support worker safety such as alternative accommodations, meals and transportation and other ancillary costs like laundry or security services that would not normally have been incurred.
    • The program guidelines and submission form are attached to this email for your reference. Eligible submissions are received and assessed on a continuous basis, while funding is available. For more information about how to apply for this funding, please contact the Agricultural Information Contact Centre at: 1-877-424-1300.

General funding details: http://www.omafra.gov.on.ca/english/about/agrifoodprogram.htm

Oct 13, 2020: Update Regional Relief and Recovery Fund: Additional funding to provide further support for businesses

On October 2, 2020 the Government of Canada announced an additional $600 million in funding for the  Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). This additional funding will continue to help businesses and organizations weather the impact of COVID-19.

Oct 2, 2020:  Updates to EI and Proposed Recovery Benefits

From CPMA: Over the past week, there have been a number of important updates regarding financial supports available to Canadians in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, the Government of Canada confirmed that Canadians currently receiving CERB will transition to a more accessible EI program, as of September 27, 2020. This shift was initially announced in August.

Canadians receiving EI are eligible for a taxable benefit of $500 per week. Canadians claiming EI benefits for job loss will be eligible for at least 26 weeks. Returning to the EI program will allow claimants to benefit from the Working While on Claim rules, which allow claimants to receive part of their EI benefits and all their earnings from work. In addition, employers can still use registered Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plans. Learn more about the updates to EI.

This week, the government also introduced Bill C-4, which included the creation of three new, temporary recovery benefits:

  • Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB): $500 per week for up to 26 weeks for workers who are self-employed, are not eligible for EI and who require income support. The Benefit will support Canadians who have not returned to work or whose income has dropped by at least 50%.
  • Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB): $500 per week for up to two weeks for workers that may have COVID-19, have underlying conditions that make them susceptible to COVID-19, or who are self-isolating due to COVID-19.
  • Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB): $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, daycares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19 or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine.

At the time of writing, Bill C-4 had received unanimous consent in the House of Commons and will now go to the Senate for consideration before receiving Royal Assent. Once Bill C-4 is passed by Parliament, Canadians will be able to apply for these new recovery benefits through the Canada Revenue Agency until September 25, 2021.

Sept 1, 2020: Update Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program (MISTFWP) Extended

The Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program (MISTFWP) 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 will assist Canadian employers with 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.

Please be advised that the Quarantine Act has been extended until September 30th, 2020. As a result, the MISTFWP $1500 per worker funding application deadline is now September 15th and covers workers arriving up to and including September 30th. If you have workers arriving from outside of Canada between now and September 30th they should still be included on your funding application but it must be submitted BEFORE the deadline.

Claims: Eligible applicants with temporary foreign workers, which arrived before September 14, 2020, will be required to submit their claims for payment by September 14, 2020. For others with temporary foreign workers arriving throughout the month of September, claims for payment will need to be submitted by October 14, 2020.

AAFC noted that any telephone inquiries are responded to before the end of the next business day and that applications that are emailed get an automatic acknowledgment message generated by the system. They have a 30-business day service standard to review and send an application for approval or rejection. If approved, the Contribution Agreement is sent to the applicant and they can then submit a claim, which AAFC has 30-business days to review and complete payment.

Here is the program link for your information – https://www.agr.gc.ca/eng/agricultural-programs-and-services/mandatory-isolation-support-for-temporary-foreign-workers-program/?id=1588186409721

If you are expecting additional temporary foreign workers to arrive between July 1, 2020, and September 30, 2020, please reply to this email (thea.klinger@canada.ca) and complete the table below. Requests for additional temporary foreign workers creates no obligation on the part of Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada to provide funding. Funding is only provided through a Contribution Agreement.

If your request is approved, you will receive an amendment to your Contribution Agreement within 30 business days.

If you have any questions, please reply to this email or call our contact centre
Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers Program

Business Name Business number Number of temporary foreign workers entering Canada between July 1, 2020, and August 31, 2020


Click here for more information on how to apply. And click here for the latest MISTFWP bulletin from Agriculture and Agri-food Canada.

The following FAQs have been developed by the Canadian Horticulture Council.

Question: I sent in my application form before getting clarity that one only application form is needed per farm and that all workers expected to arrive Aug 31 should be listed. Can I add to my existing application?
Answer: Yes. Employers can use the following email address: aafc.MISP-PAIO.aac@canada.ca to inform AAFC about any additional temporary foreign workers that need to be added to their original applications.

Question: Are in-kind expenses eligible costs?
Answer: Yes

Question: Are there alternatives to filling in the PDF form? It is inaccessible for some growers.
Answer: Yes, contact AAFC and they will email a non-fillable form or mail a hardcopy to the applicant.  Contact them at: Email: aafc.MISP-PAIO.aac@canada.ca  Telephone: 1-877-246-4682

Question: Are all of the fields in the application form mandatory?
Answer: No – Fields that are in the form for statistical information gathering on (e.g. NAICS code) are not mandatory.  If a grower is unsure about an answer, they can leave it blank.

Question: Are Canadian workers coming in from other provinces eligible?
Answer: The funding under the Mandatory Isolation Support for Temporary Foreign Workers is specific to temporary foreign workers who are subject to federal quarantine requirements and does not include any support for workers moving from one province to another, even if they are subject to provincial quarantine requirements.

Question: The application process specifies that I need to keep my receipts for seven years. Will I be audited and by whom?
Answer: Treasury Board requirements dictate that a process for audits must be in place in order to disburse funds. Should an audit be deemed necessary, AAFC would carry it out.

August 20, 2020: Government of Canada announces plan to help support Canadians through the next phase of the recovery

Please see following links for more information on Canada’s extended response plan. We have asked for clarity as to whether TFW employees will be able to access the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit

The new Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit would provide $500 per week, for up to two weeks, effective September 27, 2020 for one year, for workers who are unable to work because they are sick or must self-isolate due to COVID-19. This new benefit would fulfil the Government of Canada’s commitment as part of the Safe Restart Agreement with provinces and territories to provide up to two weeks of sick leave to all Canadians in the context of COVID-19.

The benefit would be available to:

  • Residents in Canada who are at least 15 years of age and have a valid Social Insurance Number (SIN);
  • Workers employed or self-employed at the time of the application; and
  • Workers who earned at least $5,000 in 2019 or in 2020.

Workers would not be required to have a medical certificate to qualify for the benefit. Workers could not claim the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit and receive other paid sick leave for the same benefit period. Workers would need to have missed a minimum of 60% of their scheduled work in the week for which they claim the benefit.

Workers would apply after the one-week period in which they are seeking income support and attest that they meet the requirements. The benefit would taxable.


August 17, 2020: Update Emergency On-farm Support Fund (Paul Samson – AAFC)

The following update was provided by AAFC regarding the July 31 announcement of: Investing $35 million to improve health and safety on farms and in employee living quarters to prevent and respond to the spread of COVID-19. This will go toward direct infrastructure improvements to living quarters, temporary or emergency housing (on- or off-farm), as well as PPE, sanitary stations, and any other health and safety measures. Non-repayable contributions will be cost-shared 50:50 with the applicants.

  • Following the July 31st Government announcement of additional investments in measures to boost protections for Temporary Foreign Workers and address COVID-19 Outbreaks on Farms, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada is launching a new $35 million Emergency On-Farm Support Fund (EOFSF).
  • The program is intended to support immediate needs related to changes required on farms to ensure the health and safety of domestic and temporary foreign workers due to COVID-19, and limit the spread of the disease on agricultural operations.
  • Discussions are taking place with provinces and territories with the aim of using existing programs as much as possible for the delivery of the EOFSF, with cost-sharing details still being finalized; overall funding allocation per Province/Territory will be based on the number of farms in a jurisdiction with 10 or more employees.
  • Recipients will be primary producers. In order to be eligible for funding, applicants must confirm in writing that all applicable measures of the Quarantine Act are being adhered to, including but not limited to the mandatory 14-day isolation period for Temporary Foreign Workers. In addition, the project application will require that the employer provide a written plan documenting steps in place to limit the spread of the disease in order to be eligible for funding.
  • The fund is expected to be retroactive, by as much as several months.
  • The EOFSF will have an end date of March 31, 2021, which means all disbursements must be made by the federal government by that date.
  • AAFC is working hard to finalize the details of the fund’s delivery and the application process will open as soon as possible, with some potential variation in opening dates between provinces and territories.
  • Additional notes:
    • The priority will be temporary or emergency housing, new builds would be questionable
    • Disposable PPE will be eligible

August 6, 2020: AAFC has launched a Web page of the Federal Funding Programs

August 3, 2020: Registration Open for Essential Services Contingency Reserve

As of August 3, organizations or businesses can register for the Essential Services Contingency Reserve to have access to key supplies to keep people safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Essential Services Contingency Reserve (ESCR) opened on August 3rd for registration and applications to purchase personal protective equipment (PPE) on a cost recovery basis. The ESCR is for all critical infrastructure sectors and is to help address urgent PPE needs when all other sources of supply are unavailable and when a significant disruption in the delivery of essential services to Canadians is imminent. Industry associations are encouraged to apply on behalf of their respective sectors. To begin the registration process of your organization, please register here.

    • Applications open on August 3rd, 2020, open to all critical infrastructure sectors, including the food sector.
    • Temporary measure to provide a backstop for urgent needs, when other sources of PPE and critical supplies are unavailable and when significant disruptions to essential operations are imminent.
    • Support will typically be provided for up to 45 days.
    • Wide range of PPE: KN95 respirators, surgical masks, non-medical face coverings, gowns, face shields, hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes and gloves.
    • Distributed to applicants on a cost recovery basis.
    • Will need to demonstrate all other sources have been exhausted

June 26th, 2020 – Expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) – Now open for applications

The expanded CEBA is now open for applications. 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. Applicants will have to demonstrate having eligible non-deferrable expenses between CAN$40,000 and CAN$1,500,000 in 2020.

The expanded CEBA is being made available gradually by more than 230 financial institutions across the country, starting with the larger banks. Other participating financial institutions will start offering the program over the coming weeks.

June 26, 2020 – Ontario Provides Stable Electricity Pricing for Industrial and Commercial Companies

The Ontario government is helping large industrial and commercial companies return to full levels of operation without the fear of electricity costs spiking by providing more stable electricity pricing for two years. Effective June 26, 2020, companies that participate in the Industrial Conservation Initiative (ICI) will not be required to reduce their electricity usage during peak hours, as their proportion of Global Adjustment (GA) charges for these companies will be frozen.

Class A customers will not need to anticipate and reduce their electricity demand during peak hours as they return to full levels of operation. Class A customers will maintain their peak demand factor from the 2019-20 period to determine their global adjustment charges in 2021-22.

For additional information, please visit: https://news.ontario.ca/mndmf/en/2020/06/ontario-provides-stable-electricity-pricing-for-industrial-and-commercial-companies

June 23, 2020: UPDATE 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 March 15, 2020 and applications will be received on an ongoing basis as funding remains. Each farm business can only apply once.


  • Project costs incurred on or after March 15, 2020 will now be eligible under the enhanced programming.
  • To simplify the program and provide assistance faster we are eliminating the preapproval and transitioning to a reimbursement program which will allow farmers to submit eligible receipts up to the per farm maximum as long as funding is available.
  • The program has been expanded to include operations that provide off-farm packing services (i.e. cooling, storing, washing, sorting, packing) for products such as fruit and vegetables, as well as agri-service organizations (e.g. corn detasseling services).
  • Support is also now available for producers and other operations to assist with costs for short-term accommodation and transportation related to preventive measures, as well as those incurred in addressing an illness or outbreak.

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 March 15, 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 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 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: 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.

October 28, 2020: OFA Summary of Financial Assistance

Recent updates to OFA’s Summary of Government Financial Assistance Measures have been posted to their website: https://ofa.on.ca/resources/summary-of-government-financial-assistance-for-ontario-farm-businesses/

April 16, 2020: CPMA Overview of government support programs

Flowers Canada Growers resource page.


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