Business in the Time of COVID-19


COVID-19 Resources

This is an unprecedented time in the world and our business community.

The health and well-being of our business community is our top priority. We are monitoring the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) situation and are committed to offering up-to-date information. The resources and information below are meant to support you in making informed decisions for your business and will be updated as information becomes available.


During the COVID-19 crisis, the landscape of business services is changing by the hour and keeping track of it is challenging. This page is updated frequently. Contact the Western REN directly at for navigation supports. The Western REN team commits to a response time of one business day.


We have also organized these resources and supports into an easy to navigate Frequently Asked Questions format


Western REN COVID-19 Supports: Frequently Asked Questions Page



Continuing Operations & Reopening

Need clarity on how your business needs to comply with the Province’s Public Health Order? Wondering whether or not your organization can stay open? An easy-to-use assessment tool is available to determine if you may remain open, in compliance with current workplace safety requirements.

Assessment Tool


Related Questions

How do the regulations on gatherings impact my business?
If your business has not been subject to closures or limitations in the Health Protection Act Order, you may continue to operate with employees. If your business will continue to operate with more than 5 employees, you must apply social-distancing measures (2 metres or 6 feet from others). See Public Health Orders & Direction.

How do I maintain a clean and safe environment for my business?
Read about COVID-19 hygiene best practices: COVID-19 Business Fact Sheet

The Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety has released guidance sheets with health and safety tips and good practices for employers and workers, specific to multiple industries: COVID-19 Safety Tip Sheets

The Certified Nursing Assistants website includes a handwashing guide page taken from their training resource materiala. It contains handwashing steps that are relevant for the public that will help prevent the spread of infection disease.

How can I prepare for when the economy eventually reopens?

The Province of Nova Scotia has launched a “Preparing to reopen Nova Scotia” portal with many resources for businesses, organizations, and employees.

The Province of Nova Scotia has also launched a Small Business Reopening and Support Grant, with applications opening June 1st, 2020.

The Yarmouth & Area Chamber of Commerce has created a COVID-19 Re-opening and Recovery guide and a Risk Assessment Guide.

MEDCAN has created a Restarting the Canadian Economy Checklist of Considerations for a Safe at Work Environment.

J.D. Irving Limited has made their COVID-19 Work Plan available for others to utilize.

Support for Businesses


The Government of Canada has created a COVID-19 Economic Response Plan to help stabilize the economy during this challenging period. Under this plan, there are new programs and measures to support Canadian businesses and workers facing hardship as a result of the outbreak.

Federal Government Supports

Access Financial Support

Both the federal and provincial governments have put policies, programs and initiatives in place to assist small businesses. There is an additional $300 billion in lending capacity by the major banks and the Bank of Canada has cut the interest rate to 0.25%. Looking to access direct lending and other types of financial support?

Contact your financial institution

They will assess your financial situation to provide tailored, flexible solutions including access to the newly announced Canada Emergency Business Account.

Access additional resources

If needed, your financial institution will refer you to Business Development Bank of Canada or Export Development Canada to access the Business Credit Availability Program.

Covid-19 Small Business Loan Guarantee Program

Update (May 27, 2020): The application is re-opened, but available on a first come basis due to only modest funding still available.

The province announced a new, temporary stream for access to credit, cash grants and support delivered through participating credit unions. The program will be available starting Wednesday, April 29 with an application deadline of June 30, 2020.  To be eligible, small businesses must have a payroll less than $20,000 in the previous fiscal year and have experienced a decline in revenue compared to the same period in 2019, or in the case of a new business, anticipate a decline in revenue when compared to financial projections of 15% in March; 30% in April, May or June, 2020. Maximum loan amount is $25,000.  Upon approval, businesses will receive a grant up to $1,500 as well as a COVID-19 Business Continuity Voucher of up to $1,500 to help hire consultants for advice and support.

More Information

Small Business Impact Grant

If you had to close or reduced operations because of the COVID-19 public health order, you may be eligible for a one-time grant up to $5,000 through the Small Business Impact Grant.

Applications now closed

Access Website & E-Commerce Support

The Yarmouth CBDC is offering an E-Commerce Micro-Loan to small businesses in Yarmouth County only up to $2,500 + HST for the purposes of updating their websites, and adding an E-Commerce platform so that their customers can order from them. This loan has a $500 forgivable training portion, and interest rate is prime +2. The loan has no application fees, and has flexible repayment terms. Call (902) 742-5364 for more details.

New support for Canada’s fish harvesters

The Government of Canada will:

  • Launch the Fish Harvester Benefit, a program worth up to $267.6 million, to help provide income support for this year’s fishing seasons to eligible self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons crew who cannot access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Support will be provided to those that experience fishing income declines of greater than 25 per cent in the 2020 tax year, compared with a reference period to be identified. This measure covers 75 per cent of fishing income losses beyond a 25 per cent income decline threshold, up to a maximum individual entitlement equivalent to what is provided under the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy ($847 per week for up to 12 weeks).
  • Launch the Fish Harvester Grant, a program worth up to $201.8 million, to provide grants to help fish harvesters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, and who are ineligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account or equivalent measures. This will give them more liquidity to address non-deferrable business costs. The program would provide non-repayable support of up to $10,000 to self-employed fish harvesters with a valid fishing licence. Size of the non-repayable support will vary depending on the level of fish harvesters’ historic revenue.
  • Propose measures or changes to Employment Insurance (EI) that would allow self-employed fish harvesters and sharespersons to access EI benefits on the basis of insurable earnings from previous seasons (winter and summer claims).

Additional details on these measures will be made available soon.

Click here for more information.



Support your Employees

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

A wage subsidy of up to 75% of salaries for qualifying businesses will be available for up to 3 months. Eligible employers can apply through the Canada Revenue Agency online portal.

Temporary Wage Subsidy

If you do not qualify for the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy, your business may qualify for a 10% temporary wage subsidy. You do not need to apply for this subsidy.

Employment Insurance (EI)

The one-week waiting period for EI has been waived. Additionally, a medical certificate for EI sickness benefits is no longer required. Workers can apply online through Service Canada.

How to Apply Learn More Apply for EI

Additional Support

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA)

The Federal Government intends to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program for small businesses that, will seek to provide loans and/or 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.

Implementation of the program will require a partnership with provincial and territorial governments who are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships.

More details will be available soon.

Tax Flexibility

The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31st, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18, 2020 and before Sept 2020.

HST and Customs Duties Deferral

Businesses, including self-employed individuals, can defer payments of HST until June 30, 2020, as well as customs duty owing on imports. The deferral is for any sales tax payments from March 27 to May 31.

Work-Share Program

The maximum duration of Work-Sharing agreements has been increased from 38 weeks to 76 weeks. The mandatory waiting period has also been waived so that employers may immediately apply for a new agreement.

Farm Credit Canada

Credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector has been increased. An additional $5 billion was announced to increase Farm Credit Canada’s lending capacity to producers, agribusinesses, and food processors.


Preparing your Business

It’s important for businesses to have contingency plans in place to manage potential risk. A number of organizations have developed helpful and comprehensive guides to help you prepare:


Support for Employees, Individuals & the Self-Employed

Canada Emergency Response Benefit

A taxable temporary emergency income support of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months will be available for workers facing unemployment due to COVID-19, including those who are self-employed. Applications for CERB are now being accepted.

Worker Emergency Bridge Fund

The Province of Nova Scotia will provide a one-time payment of $1,000 to bridge the gap between layoffs and closures and the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit. Additional details on how to apply will be shared when they become available.

Learn More


Support for Tourism Industry

To keep Nova Scotia’s Tourism Industry up-to-date on how the industry is responding to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Tourism Industry Association of Nova Scotia (TIANS) has developed the Tourism Strong platform. TIANS has also launched a dedicated facebook page that may provide some additional resources, and an opportunity to discuss the issue with others.


Tourism Nova Scotia has prepared a “What you need to know” page along with a “Frequently Asked Questions” list.

Updates and Resources

Frequently Asked Questions


Canada’s Regional Development Agencies are closely monitoring the COVID-19 global challenge and the impact it is having on businesses and workers, as well as the broader economy. The Atlantic Canada Opportunities Agency (ACOA) is this region’s Regional Development Agency. If you are a tourism operator or small- or medium- sized business or organization and have received ACOA funding and COVID-19 is affecting your operations, you are encouraged to contact your local ACOA office to review your situation and provide guidance.

Learn More


Tourism Human Resources Canada has developed a COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit, a practical, no-cost, web-based program that includes tools, downloadable content and presentations, all designed to give tourism operators the knowledge resources they need to rebound and succeed. The curated content presented in the COVID-19 Tourism Workforce Recovery Toolkit leverages myriad public-domain academic and business sources. The Toolkit is dynamic and will be updated and amended on a regular basis to reflect new information and market changes.

Learn More


Immigration Resources

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada (IRCC), along with other government departments and international allies, continues to closely monitor COVID 19 and any impacts on people and operations.

How Covid-19 is Affecting Immigration

IRCC Newsroom and Press Release Updates



Manufacturers and Innovators Help with COVID-19 Crisis

Click to expand


Upcoming and Recorded Webinars

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Part-time, contract and seasonal workers now qualify for COVID-19 emergency benefits. Wage boost for essential workers. (April 15, 2020)

The Federal Government announced more flexible rules for claiming the Canada emergency response benefit (CERB) in response to critics who pointed out the initial rules excluded too many people, including those working reduced hours.

Seasonal workers and those who have recently run out of employment insurance will now also be eligible for CERB. People who make less than $1,000 a month due to reduced work hours will also qualify.

Learn more

Canadians Can Now Apply for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (April 6, 2020)
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 for up to 16 weeks. Applications for CERB are now being accepted.

Learn more

Measures to Helps Businesses Affected by COVID-19(April 2, 2020)
The province of Nova Scotia announced a $20 million to fund the Small Business Impact Grant. Eligible small businesses and social enterprises will receive a grant of 15% of their revenue from sales up to a maximum of $5,000.

Read more

Thank you to our partner organizations the Halifax Partnership and the Cape Breton Partnership for allowing us to adapt their resources pages to match the needs of our community in many sections of the page above.