Federal government announces over $1 billion in additional COVID-19 support for businesses

In the Kawarthas, most funds will be delivered through FedDev Ontario and local Community Futures organizations

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on April 17, 2020. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press)
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau addresses Canadians on the COVID-19 pandemic from Rideau Cottage in Ottawa on April 17, 2020. (Photo: Sean Kilpatrick / The Canadian Press)

On Friday (April 17), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced over $1 billion in support for small and medium-sized businesses, including start-ups, that are suffering financially as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but aren’t eligible for other federal support programs.

“There are many other firms in the country that don’t qualify for the wage subsidy but still need help,” Trudeau said.

“This funding will help ensure that more businesses especially smaller employees based in more rural parts of the country or those who don’t have a relationship with a traditional financial institution are getting the support that they need.”

The federal government will provide $675 million to Canada’s regional development agencies and $287 million to the Community Futures Network of Canada, which is funded through the regional development agencies.

The $675 million in funding will enable regional development agencies (which include FedDev Ontario) to provide equivalent bridge financing support to businesses that don’t qualify for other federal government COVID-19 relief programs, such as the Canada Emergency Business Account or the federal 75 per cent wage subsidy program.

The $287 million in funding for the Community Futures Network will support rural businesses and communities, including through access to capital, that don’t qualify for other programs.

In the Kawarthas, the funds will be administered through Community Futures Peterborough, Kawartha Lakes Community Futures Development Corporation, the Northumberland Community Futures Development Corporation, the Haliburton County Development Corporation, and Community Futures Development Corporation of North & Central Hastings and South Algonquin.

While details are not available, based on existing programs the support is likely to be the form of loans, possibly with an initial no-interest term followed by a low-interest term. Further information about the funding will be released by regional development agencies and Community Futures organizations.

Trudeau also announced $250 million in funding will be provided through the existing Industrial Research Assistance Program program, operated by the National Research Council of Canada, and $20.1 million will be provided to Futurpreneur Canada, a non-profit organization that supports young entrepreneurs.

In addition to the more than $1 billion in funding for businesses, Trudeau announced plans to provide Heritage Canada with $500 million to support Canada’s arts, sports, and cultural sectors to help address the financial needs of affected organizations within these sectors.

Heritage Minister Steven Guilbeault said the funding will help organizations whose revenues have evaporated because of the COVID-19 pandemic. He said the funding would be provided in “the coming weeks”, but details on how Heritage Canada will administer the funds are not yet available.