Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is an infectious disease caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2. The disease was first identified in 2019 in Wuhan, China, and has since spread globally, resulting in the 2019–20 coronavirus pandemic.

As a temporary, necessary measure, the Ontario government is ordering businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by closing non-essential workplaces. All workplaces not included in the updated list of essential businesses must close by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

COVID-19 can be deadly. You can take actions to help stop the spread:

Best Practices

If you start to feel symptoms of COVID-19

  • Anyone who begins to feel unwell (fever, new cough or difficulty breathing) should return home and self-isolate immediately.
  • People who are self-isolating should seek clinical assessment over the phone – either through Telehealth Ontario (1-866-797-0000) or by calling their primary care provider’s office. If you need additional assessment, your primary care provider or Telehealth will direct you to in-person care options.
  • If you need immediate medical attention you should call 911 and mention your travel history and symptoms.

Take these everyday steps to reduce exposure to the virus and protect your health:

  • Wash your hands often with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer
  • Practice social distancing
  • Sneeze and cough into your sleeve
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth
  • Avoid commonly touched areas including handrails, public transit poles,
  • Open doors and touch elevator buttons with gloves, the back of your hand, or other body part
  • Wash your clothes as soon as you get home
  • Notify your supervisor immediately if you are sick and contact public health.
  • Avoid contact with people who are sick
  • Stay home if you are sick

In the Workplace

  • The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is responding to inquiries regarding worker protections for COVID-19 and continues to investigate all complaints related to workplace health and safety to provide support, advice and enforcement, including proactive inspections as needed to ensure the health and safety of Ontario’s workers.
  • Employers are required to report all occupational illnesses, including COVID-19, to the Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development in writing within four days. Employers are also required to notify their joint health and safety committee or a health and safety representative and a trade union, if they exist.
  • Ensure health and safety policies are updated and posted for all employees to see. Use industry resources including those produced by the IHSA will improve on site understanding.
  • All employees need to have COVID-19 policies that are posted and communicated with to all employees and contractors/trades.
  • Keep workplaces clean and hygienic – increase frequency of cleaning high-touch surfaces such as elevator buttons, keyboards, mouse, phones, desks, computers, seating areas, lunch tables, kitchens, washrooms, etc.
  • Work from home if possible
  • Employers should advise all workers experiencing symptoms to contact public health.
  • Stay home if they are sick

Government of Ontario

As a temporary, necessary measure, the Ontario government is ordering businesses to help stop the spread of COVID-19 by closing non-essential workplaces. All workplaces not included in the updated list of essential businesses must close by 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, April 4, 2020.

This decision was based on the advice of Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts.

Temporarily closing non-essential workplaces will help:

  • reduce exposure and stop the spread of COVID-19 from person-to-person
  • protect workers who maintain essential goods and services
  • minimize impacts to people’s livelihood and businesses’ bottom lines
  • maintain a strong supply chain for the goods and services they need

The government is also advising essential workplaces to put the necessary measures in place to protect the health and safety of their employees and the public, including safe physical distancing and hand-washing.

If you have questions about what will be open or impacts to your business or employment, call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.

For employees

If you have to go out to get food or other critical supplies, care for a relative or friend, get necessary health care or go to an essential job, be sure to practice safe physical distancing.

Under the Occupational Health and Safety Act, employers must take precautions to keep workers safe, including keeping them informed, creating health and safety policies and procedures and ensuring workers use the right protective equipment. As a worker, you also have the right to refuse unsafe work.

If you have concerns about your health and safety that your employer is not addressing, you can file a complaint with the Health and Safety Contact Centre at 1-877-202-0008.

If you think you have coronavirus (COVID-19) symptoms or have been in close contact with someone who has it, take a self-assessment to help determine how to seek further care.


Government of Canada

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

  • CEWS is a subsidy which includes up to 75 percent of eligible payroll costs on the first $58,700 per employee, maxing out at $847 per week.
  • The subsidy is proposed to be available from March 15, 2020 to June 6, 2020.
  • Businesses of all sizes, that are not public bodies, can apply (including individuals, partnerships and corporations, as well as non-profit organizations and charities).
  • Special rules apply to calculate the subsidy for non-arm’s length employees (e.g. owner/managers).
  • Eligibility is based on a decline in revenues from 2019 of at least 15 percent for the month of March and 30 percent for April and May.
  • The rules offer flexibility in determining revenues, with special rules for organizations earning revenues from non-arm’s length sources. Employers will have options on how to best calculate revenues and how to determine the percentage decrease in revenue to qualify for the subsidy.
  • As a further incentive to re-hire employees, the government will offer an additional refund of 100 percent of employer EI and CPP premiums for each week that an employee is on leave with pay.
  • A business can claim this subsidy with respect to an employee who has not been without pay for 14 or more days during the qualifying period. Timing will need to be considered when re-hiring employees.
  • Employees who were eligible for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may need to repay any benefit received under that program if they are re-hired and the CEWS is subsequently received.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

  • The CEBA [ 1653 kb ] consists of a $40,000 interest-free loan that will be available to small businesses and non-profit organizations.
  • To qualify, an organization must have paid between $20,000 and $1.5 million in payroll for 2019 (previously, the range was between $50,000 and $1 million), as evidenced by its 2019 T4 Summary page.
  • If repaid by December 31, 2022, 25 percent of the loan will be forgivable, up to $10,000.
  • Structured as a revolving line of credit until December 31, 2020, any remaining balance on the line of credit after this date will be converted to a non-revolving five-year term loan, maturing on December 31, 2025.
  • The organization must have a business banking account at the financial institution at which it is applying, which must be its primary financial institution.
  • Online applications are now open, and the major banks are indicating that this application should be completed online, so it appears that it may not be possible to apply in person. Smaller financial institutions, such as credit unions, may have a different process.
  • Once the application has been approved, it is estimated that the funds will be received within five days.

Temporary Wage Subsidy

  • The Temporary Wage Subsidy [ 203 kb ] is available to employers that had a business limit in the prior year. Canadian-controlled private corporations (CCPC) that claimed the small business deduction would generally have a business limit; however, other CCPCs may also qualify.
  • It will allow an eligible employer to reduce its payroll income tax remittances by 10 percent for up to three months, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee.
  • The maximum aggregate amount an employer can save is $25,000 (and associated corporations are not required to share this maximum employer limit).
  • There is no application required to access the subsidy. The employer would calculate the amount of the subsidy and reduce the amount of income tax remittances (both the employer and employee portions of CPP and EI are still required to be remitted).
  • The Temporary Wage Subsidy and the CEWS are separate programs, so an employer that was eligible for both programs could access both, but any amount received under the temporary wage subsidy would reduce the amount able to be obtained through the CEWS for the same period.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

  • The federal government intends on introducing this program to provide rent relief for small businesses.
  • It will provide loans, including forgivable loans, to commercial property owners who in turn will lower or forgo the rent of small businesses for the months of April (retroactive), May, and June.
  • The program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. Additional details should be available soon.

Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB)

  • CERB [ 572 kb ] provides $2,000 per month (i.e., $500 per week) to qualified workers for up to 16 weeks.
  • The program is currently set to run from March 15 to October 3, 2020. Individuals can now apply for this benefit.
  • To qualify, a worker must have had income of at least $5,000 (through salary or non-eligible dividends) in the 12 months prior to the date of application.
  • Individuals who submit a claim must not have earned more than $1,000 of income from employment or self-employment for 14 or more consecutive days in the first four-week benefit period in which they submit their claim. The individual must not have earned $1,000 or more within the entire four-week benefit periods that they submit subsequent claims for. This is a recent change to the program.
  • Seasonal workers and workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and who cannot find work due to COVID-19 can also qualify. This was another recent change.
  • Those wishing to continue to receive the CERB after the first month must re-apply each month. Any employee that is rehired by their employer who is claiming the CEWS for that employee will likely have to repay the CERB if pertains to the same four-week period.

Temporary wage boost for essential workers

  • Low-income essential workers who earn less than $2,500 per month will receive a top-up.
  • This will apply to workers such as auxiliary nurses, elderly-care workers, grocery store and food supply workers, workers in essential retail services and others.
  • The federal government will work closely with the provinces and territories to cost-share the temporary top-up.
  • Additional details will be provided.

Changes for GST/HST registrants

  • GST/HST payments and import/export duties have been deferred until June 30, 2020.
  • GST/HST returns are still required by their deadline; however, CRA has stated that they will not impose penalties for late returns, provided they are filed by June 30, 2020.