Business in Kitchener

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COVID-19 Economic Support and Recovery

last updated: Friday, July 10, 2020

Small Business Recovery Outreach Program

The City of Kitchener, in partnership with the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre and area municipalities, launched the Small Business Recovery Outreach Program to support small businesses and entrepreneurs as they planned for the reopening of Ontario’s economy and began their own recovery from the impacts of COVID-19. This free program, which was geared to supporting small business of all kinds, including restaurants, retail, personal services and hospitality businesses, provided tailored resources to local entrepreneurs and small business owners. Through the program, City of Kitchener staff conducted interviews with a cross-section of local small businesses as they began to plan for reopening and recovery. Based on their unique circumstances, each participating business owner was provided with suggestions on programs and services available to assist them in their recovery efforts. The City will publish a Business Recovery Toolkit available to all business, free of charge.

The program intake form is now closed. Please refer back to this page for further announcements regarding the Business Recovery Toolkit. 

Learn about all services and resources offered by the Waterloo Region Small Business Centre.

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Extended Support Measures:

On May 11, 2020, Kitchener City Council approved the City’s Extended Financial and Economic Recovery Support Plan extending immediate short-term economic relief measures. As the province of Ontario makes plans to reopen the economy, the City of Kitchener recognizes that extended relief measures are needed to support our community’s businesses and residents. Read more: www.kitchener.ca/news

Digital Main Street’s ShopHERE: support for local businesses and artists

To help support our local small businesses, on May 29, 2020, the City of Kitchener joined the ShopHERE powered by Google program, with a goal of getting more businesses online this year.

ShopHERE powered by Google, which started in the City of Toronto, helps independent businesses and artists build a digital presence and minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

The program is now available to small businesses in Kitchener. Local businesses and artists can apply for the program at www.digitalmainstreet.ca/shophere to get their online store built at no-cost. 

Reopening of businesses

The province of Ontario has taken a regional approach to permitting businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. As of June 12, 2020, Region of Waterloo has entered Stage 2. Learn about what can reopen in each stage and where, according to the government’s regional approach to Stage 2.

If you have questions or for more information about the reopening of Ontario's businesses, public spaces and services, visit the province's website, or call the Province of Ontario's toll-free line at 1-888-444-3659.

 

To find out what city facilities are currently open and most recent updates on how the city is responding to COVID-19, please visit the city of Kitchener website.

Important steps for re-opening your business' water supply

The longer a building is unoccupied or using minimal water use, the higher the risk for water quality issues. When the water is not used, the cleaning component in the water dissipates and may result in growth of micro-organisms in pipes and fixtures. 

To mitigate these water quality concerns, we recommend flushing your building’s pipes, fixtures and taps. Run the cold water first and then the hot water for 20 minutes each at a time. You should be able to feel a consistent temperature afterward.

For the first flush, the Province of Ontario recommends increasing the hot water temperature to a minimum of 60°C.

Following an initial full flushing, the Province recommends a continuous flushing regimen of 3 times per week to restore and maintain optimum water quality. After an extended vacancy, it may take up to 12 weeks to re-establish proper water quality. Building owners are encouraged to begin water flushing procedures as soon as possible before returning to the building.

For more information on flushing procedures from the Province of Ontario, read their guide for maintaining building plumbing after an extended vacancy.

While municipal utilities are responsible for getting clean, safe drinking water to each property, it is the responsibility of each property owner to ensure it maintains the safety of that water within their building.

For additional information, visit the Canadian Water and Wastewater Association.

If you have any questions, contact Kitchener Utilities by phone at 519 741-2529, or by email at utilities@kitchener.ca 

Property taxes & utility bills
  • Penalties and interest on property taxes, late payment charges on utility bills and invoices, and non-sufficient fund (NSF) fee charges will be waived until June 30, 2020.
  • In addition, City Council approved additional relief and support for residents and business including:

    • an application-based property tax deferral program. The new program, launched in June, allows residents and businesses to apply to extend 2020 final property tax bill due dates by 60 days.
    • the suspension of utility disconnection and collection activities up to and including August 31, 2020.

    Residents can apply online by completing the application formLearn more.

Business licensing
  • Staff are processing business licence renewals and new business licence applications remotely. Due dates for business licence renewals are delayed until City Hall re-opens and late fees have been suspended.
  • You can submit your renewal by mail or drop it off at the city hall outdoor mail drop box. This drop box is available near the Young Street entrance to city hall. Cheques are accepted as payment.
  • If you have a question about your application, please contact Helen Fylactou or phone 519-741-2200 ext. 7854.
Sign permits

Temporary sign permit fees are waived up to and including December 31, 2020 to aid businesses in their promotion efforts during the recovery phase.

Please email sign permit applications along with any questions to planning@kitchener.ca

Non sufficient fund charges
Non Sufficient Fund (NSF) fees charged by the City on customer accounts are waived for the month of June 2020.
City owned facilities 
Over 80 vendors and small businesses lease or sub-lease space in City of Kitchener owned commercial spaces, like Kitchener Market and 44 Gaukel. Tenants that are leasing City-owned commercial spaces, can apply for deferral of rent where they can demonstrate a significant financial loss or operating impacts as a result of COVID-19. 
Arts and culture support

There are many resources available for you if you work in arts and culture. We have collected these supports on our arts and culture page.

Other city services
Information is available on changes to other city services not listed on this page.

Federal and Provincial Supports

Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan

Federal Support for Individuals, Workers and those that are Self-employed

If you have stopped working because of COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) may provide you with temporary income support. The CERB provides $500 a week. The program has been extended from 16 to 24 weeks.

The Canada Emergency Response Benefit is available to workers:

  • Residing in Canada, who are at least 15 years old

  • Who have stopped working because of COVID-19 and have not voluntarily quit their job or are eligible for EI regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted their Employment Insurance regular benefits or Employment Insurance fishing benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020

  • Who had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of their application

  • Who are or expect to be without employment or self-employment income for at least 14 or more consecutive days in the initial four-week period

  • Individuals can earn up to $1,000 per month while collecting the CERB

  • CERB can be extended to seasonal workers who have exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake their regular seasonal work because of COVID-19

  • CERB can be extended to workers who have recently exhausted their EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job because of COVID-19

Find out more about this program, take the eligibility questionnaire or apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit.

Other supports for individuals include changes to the Employment Insurance Sickness Benefits, increased Canada Child benefit and to support those with student loans. Find all the details on the Government of Canada website. 

Flexibility for Taxpayers
Canada Revenue Agency allowed individuals to defer their tax filing to June 1, 2020 and will allow all taxpayers to defer the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing from now to before September 2020, until August 31, 2020. Read more about tax filing deferral.
Mortgage Default Management Tools
Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and other mortgage insurers offer tools to lenders that can assist homeowners who may be experiencing financial difficulty. These include payment deferral, loan re-amortization, capitalization of outstanding interest arrears and other eligible expenses, and special payment arrangements. For more information, view all the mortgage support details and contact your lender.
Support for vulnerable Canadians

Funding has increased to support those experiencing homelessness, those living in shelters and fleeing domestic violence, Indigenous community support, increasing access to essential food support and providing youth with mental health support.

Support for Seniors

To assist seniors, the federal government reduced the required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds (RRIFs) by 25 percent from 2020, supporting organizations that provide personal support &  delivery of personal items. 

Support for Students & Recent Graduates

 Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB)

The Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) provides financial support to post-secondary students, and recent post-secondary and high school graduates who are unable to find work due to COVID-19.

This benefit is for students who do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) or Employment Insurance (EI). Payment will be provided from May to August 2020. Find out more information and how you can apply.

 Student loans and Canada Summer Jobs program

All student loan borrowers will automatically have their loan repayments and interest suspended until September 30, 2020. Students do not need to apply for the repayment pause. More information is available on the Government of Canada website.

Changes to Canada Student Grants and Loans for 2020-2021 have been introduced so students facing financial challenges from COVID-19 can access and afford post-secondary education. Pending government approvals, these new measures will come into effect on August 1, 2020 and be available to students for one year. For more details, go to Canada.ca.

Temporary changes have also been made to the Canada Summer Jobs program, providing opportunities for youth to develop and improve their skills within the not-for-profit, small business, and public sectors, and support the delivery of key community services.

Temporary changes to the Canada Summer Jobs program allow employers to:

  • receive an increased wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 percent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee

  • extend the end date for employment to February 28, 2021

  • adapt their projects and job activities

  • hire staff on a part-time basis

Find out more about the Canada Summer Job program on the Government of Canada website.

 

Federal Support for Business
 
Avoiding Layoffs and Rehiring Employees

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) supports employers that are hardest hit by the pandemic, and protect the jobs Canadians depend on.

The subsidy covers 75% of an employee's wages – up to $847 per week - for employers of all sizes and across all sectors who have suffered a drop in gross revenues of at least 15% in March, and 30% in April and May.

The program has been extended. You may be eligible for the subsidy retroactive from March 15, 2020, to August 29, 2020.

Employers eligible for the CEWS are entitled to receive a 100% refund for certain employer contributions to Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan, the Quebec Pension Plan, and the Quebec Parental Insurance Plan paid in respect of employees who are on leave with pay. For employers that are eligible for both the CEWS and the 10% Temporary Wage Subsidy for a period, any benefit from the Temporary 10% Wage Subsidy for remuneration paid in a specific period will generally reduce the amount available to be claimed under the CEWS in that same period.

Find out more about the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

An online wage subsidy calculator is now available. 

Ensuring Businesses Have Access to Credit
Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC) to provide more than $10 billion of additional support, largely targeted to small and medium-sized businesses. Find out more about the details of additional support.
Flexibility for Businesses Filing Taxes
Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. Here is more information about payment deferral.
Supporting Financial Market Liquidity
To bolster the financial system and the Canadian economy, the government announced on March 16, 2020 that it is launching an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program (IMPP). Under this program, the government will purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). This action will provide long-term stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders, help facilitate continued lending to Canadian consumers and businesses, and add liquidity to Canada’s mortgage market. Details of the terms of the purchase operations will be provided to lenders by CMHC later this week. Find out more about the Insured Mortgage Purchase Program.
Provincial Support
Reopening of the province

The province of Ontario has taken a regional approach to permitting businesses and workplaces to reopen as long as they comply with strict public health measures and operate safely during the COVID-19 outbreak. As of June 12, 2020, Region of Waterloo has entered Stage 2. Learn about what can reopen in each stage and where, according to the government’s regional approach to Stage 2.

If you have questions or for more information about the reopening of Ontario's businesses, public spaces and services, visit the province's website, or call the Province of Ontario's toll-free line at 1-888-444-3659.

Commercial Rent Assistance
Ontario has partnered with the Government of Canada to deliver the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses and commercial landlords experiencing financial difficulties during the coronavirus (COVID‑19) pandemic. It provides forgivable loans to eligible landlords. This allows them to reduce rent for their impacted small business tenants by at least 75% for the months of April to July 31, 2020, so they can stay in business as we safely and gradually reopen Ontario’s economy. To see how it works visit the Government of Ontario website or the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation website.
Retooling
Local businesses are being asked to consider how they might retool to provide essential medical items in short supply. Find out how to retool.
Validation Extensions
Many provincial products and services are having their validation extended, including driver’s license and health card renewals. Find out how to extend.
Ontario's Action Plan

On Wednesday, March 25, 2020, Ontario’s Action Plan was introduced outlining the Province’s $17 billion response to COVID-19. This action plan provides $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and will provide direct support for people, and jobs. This includes $3.3 billion in additional health care resources, $3.7 billion to support people and jobs, and measures that will make available up to $10 billion in support for people and businesses through tax and other deferrals. Some of the supports to assist individuals and business are listed here:

  • The Ontario government is offering direct financial support to parents with a one-time payment of $200 per child 0 to 12 years of age, and $250 for those 0 to 21 years of age with special needs. Application form available online. Families already receiving the Support for Parents payments do not need to reapply to receive this support
  • Providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief, in coordination with the federal government’s measures
  • Making electricity bills more affordable for eligible residential, farm and small business consumers through a $1.5 billion increase in electricity cost relief compared to the 2019 Budget. The government is also setting electricity prices for time-of-use customers at the lowest rate, known as the off-peak price, 24 hours a day for 45 days, to support ratepayers in their increased daytime electricity usage as a result of measures to contain the COVID‑19 outbreak
  • $75 million in urgent additional support for 194,000 low-income seniors by proposing to double the Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) maximum payment to $166 per month for individuals and $332 per month for couples, for six months starting in April 2020
  • Providing new, additional support of $26 million to Indigenous peoples and communities, including emergency assistance for urban Indigenous people in financial need, costs for health care professionals and critical supplies to reach remote First Nations, as well as funding to address emergency planning and self‑isolation needs for people in First Nation communities
  • $200 million in new funding to provide temporary emergency supports for people in financial need as well as funding to municipalities and other service providers to respond to local needs; for example, food banks, homeless shelters, churches and emergency services
  • $9 million in direct support to families for their energy bills by expanding eligibility for the Low‑income Energy Assistance Program (LEAP) and ensuring that their electricity and natural gas services are not disconnected for nonpayment during the COVID‑19 outbreak
  • Cutting taxes by $355 million for about 57,000 employers through a proposed temporary increase to the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption
  • Supporting the timely delivery of critical food and supplies by amending a regulation that restricted delivery trucks from operating during off-peak hours
Additional Business Supports from Regional Partners & Other
 
Small Business & Entrepreneurship Resources
Waterloo Region Small Business Centre: Access webinars and resources that can help you maintain & support your business. To learn more, visit the Waterloo Small Business Centre page. 
Small, Medium and Large Business
Artists & Creative Entrepreneurs
Many resources and advocacy groups are available based on discipline. Please find a complete listing on the City of Kitchener’s Arts & Culture webpage.
Tech Industry
 Communitech: COVID-19 Info Centre
Manufacturing
 Waterloo Region Manufacturing Innovation Network

This page will be continuously updated as new measures are approved. To receive notification of changes, subscribe to this page below.

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