Coronavirus Relief for Small Businesses: Seven Ways to Get Help

| 6 min read Financial Assistance

Businesses across Canada are feeling the financial strain of the coronavirus after closing their doors to uphold social distancing practices recommended by the CDC. While more consumers follow suit and practice self-isolation to prevent the spread of COVID-19, small businesses face potentially devastating financial challenges.

While many businesses can stay afloat in the short-term, others will need to take stronger precautions to ensure their survival through this crisis. A survey found that the average cost of the COVID-19 crisis on small businesses was $160,000, and if you’re one of the small business owners in Canada who is worried about the future, or you’re already struggling, there are avenues for financial assistance. The seven ideas below aim to offer coronavirus relief for small businesses.

Start a GoFundMe 

1. Coronavirus small business loans 

To help combat the financial fallout from the coronavirus, the government is offering special loans for small business owners. The government has ensured an additional $300 billion in lending capacity for small businesses.

Additionally, the government has created the new Business Credit Availability Program which aims to make more than $10 billion available to Canadian businesses in financing and credit insurance solutions. This will exist through programs like Export Development Canada (EDC) and the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC).

2. Leniency from credit card companies

Many credit card companies have released statements announcing that they’ll be giving COVID-19 relief for small businesses too. CIBC is offering temporary relief from payments, which includes mortgages, credit cards, lines of credit, and loans. See their relief programs here. 

BMO is offering financial relief program for our small business customers directly impacted by COVID-19. This includes payment deferrals on credit cards and loans as well as increases on small business operating lines. See relief programs here.

Keep in mind that banks are working closely with the federal government to support Canadian businesses, and as the small business relief program details are finalized by the government the banks will update their policies to reflect the initiative.

Be sure to check with your bank or credit card company to find out if they are offering any special services during the COVID-19 pandemic, or other business resources. During times of crisis, many lenders and credit card companies are willing to negotiate on payment timelines and fees.

3. State and local resources

COVID-19 relief for businesses varies across different provinces, cities, and counties. For example, British Columbia is providing a one-time $1,000 to businesses that have lost income due to COVID-19. Saskatchewan is offering a three Month PST remittance deferral for small businesses.

See other provincial measures here.

4. Coronavirus help for small business through crowdfunding

Fundraising for coronavirus expenses can be a lifeline when your business is struggling during the COVID-19 outbreak. While grants, loans, and stimulus measures can help greatly, it can take weeks—and even months—to receive that type of assistance. But with crowdfunding, you’re able to receive emergency financial assistance immediately.

Many people who are financially secure are now looking to help those affected by COVID-19—and crowdfunding gives them a way to easily do that. Your customers want to show their support and lend a hand to their favourite local business, but they may not know how. With online fundraising, loyal customers have an actionable way to step up and help you when you and your business need it most.

You can use crowdfunding to pay for any of these expenses and more during this period of COVID-19 closure:

  • Your monthly rent or mortgage payment
  • Health insurance for your employees
  • Paid sick time for your employees who are affected by COVID-19
  • Crisis pay for employees who aren’t sick but are out of work
  • Employees who need time off to care for their children
  • Any other operational expenses you’re struggling to pay

If your business has already started a GoFundMe and you have questions about how to set up withdrawal to your business bank account, please take a look at our article on business and organization withdrawals

Further reading:

Real businesses that have started successful fundraisers

Below are just two examples of small businesses that turned to online fundraising during a personal financial crisis.

A virtual tip jar for Hideout Virtual Tavern

After making the decision to close through the end of March, the owners of the Hideout Tavern in Chicago, Illinois knew their staff would be hurting financially. They launched a virtual tip jar fundraiser as a way to support their staff during COVID-19, and their customers and supporters donated over $24,000 in just five days.


Social Capital Theatre, a performing arts theatre that offers comedy shows & cabaret acts, needs help paying their employees during the shutdown. The Toronto community has generously raised nearly $8,500 to help keep their doors open.

5. Tax payment extension

To help those affected by the pandemic, the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) providing small business relief for coronavirus. The CRA announced that it was giving both individuals and businesses an extension to pay taxes. Businesses must file for their 2019 taxes by June 15th and pay by September 1. 

6. Upcoming federal assistance

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a new subsidy program for small businesses. The program will cover up to 75 percent of wages for businesses that saw a 30 percent decline in revenue because of the coronavirus pandemic. The application process is expected to open in early April.

7. Coronavirus business grants through private companies

Amazon’s Neighborhood Small Business Relief Fund

Amazon has pledged $5 million through a small business relief fund to help small businesses in need in the Seattle area. Businesses are eligible for grants if they have fewer than 50 employees or less than $7 million in annual revenue. Amazon reviews all applications and disburses funds as quickly as possible.

Facebook’s Small Business Grant Program

Facebook is making $100 in cash grants and ad credits available to small businesses in over 30 countries. The grant money can be used to cover operational costs, take care of employees, pay rent, and more. Facebook says it will start taking applications in the coming weeks, and businesses can sign up for updates on their grant page.

With a little help, your business will weather the storm

Though the coronavirus pandemic leaves a lot of uncertainty in our future, rest assured that your customers and supporters want to help you survive. Fundraising can help you navigate this financially stressful period, and our Donate Button makes it easy to share your cause online. Start a GoFundMe today and get financial relief for your small business right away.

Create a GoFundMe

Written by caitlin