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Ontario Action Plan for COVID-19

Last updated: Mar. 26, 2020 

Last updated September 28, 2020. We will update blog posts when more information is released.

The Ontario government announced financial relief measures for people impacted by the COVID-19 outbreak. In total, the government has allocated $17 billion for helping Ontarians through these unprecedented times.

Here is a summary of the initiatives that may help you, your employees and your business.


Increase to The Employer Health Tax Exemption

The province increased the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exception to $1 million for 2020 (up from $490,000).

Eligible private-sector employers with annual payrolls of up to $5 million would be exempt from EHT on the first $1 million of total remuneration in 2020.

The exemption will return to its current level of $490,000 on January 1, 2021.

The maximum EHT relief from the exemption would increase by $9,945 to $19,500 for 2020. The province says about 57,000 employers will pay less EHT.

Relief Period for Filing And Payment Deadlines

The province is providing a relief period for payments for most provincially administered taxes. From April 1, 2020, and up until October 1, 2020, the province will not apply any penalty or interest on any late-filed or incomplete returns, or late tax payments under select provincially administered taxes. This includes:

  • Employer Health Tax
  • Tobacco Tax
  • Fuel Tax
  • Gas Tax
  • Beer, Wine & Spirits Tax
  • Mining Tax
  • Insurance Premium Tax
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts and Benefit Plans
  • Racetracks Tax

Ontario businesses are required to file any late returns or remittances by the end of the relief period.

The relief period does not include business accounts with outstanding taxes, interest or penalties owing to the government from previous filing periods. Existing debts from before the relief period will continue to accrue interest.

WSIB Premiums Can Be Deferred for Six Months

The Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) will allow employers to defer premium payments until August 31, 2020. Businesses who report and pay monthly, quarterly or annually based on their insurable earnings are eligible.

All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial relief package. No action is required from businesses to receive the financial relief.

No interest will be accrued on outstanding premium payments and no penalties will be charged during this six-month deferral period.

Benefit payments will continue for people with work related injuries or illness.

Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit

The province is proposing a new 10 per cent refundable corporate income tax credit for capital investments.

The Regional Opportunities Investment Tax Credit would be available to eligible businesses that are building, renovating or acquiring commercial or industrial buildings in designated regions in Ontario.

Eligible businesses could save up to $50,000 this year. These include Canadian-controlled private corporations that make qualifying investments that become available for use on or after March 25, 2020 in specified regions of Ontario.

The tax credit would be available for expenditures in excess of $50,000 and up to a limit of $500,000 for qualifying investments that become available for use in the taxation year.

Qualifying investments would be eligible expenditures for capital property included in Class 1 and Class 6 for the purposes of calculating capital cost allowance.

You can apply for this tax credit when you file your tax return.


Education Property Tax Deferrals

The government is working closely with municipalities to provide property tax relief by allowing taxpayers to defer property tax payments.

They will defer the remittance of education property tax to school boards by 90 days, to provide municipalities with the flexibility to provide over $1.8 billion in property tax deferrals to residents and businesses.

To ensure this does not have a financial impact on school boards, the province will adjust payments to school boards to offset the deferral.

Child Care Costs

The province is providing a subsidy to help parents with the cost of buying materials to support their children’s learning during school and childcare closures.

  • Eligible parents can receive a one-time per child payment of:
  • $200 for children aged 0 to 12
  • $250 for children or youth aged 0 to 21 with special needs

To receive the subsidy:

  • Parents must submit one application per child in the household
  • Only one parent can apply for each child
  • The parent who applies should have custody of the child

Parents who are already receiving Support for Parents payments through direct deposit will be automatically eligible for this financial support and do not need to submit a new application.

Payments will be delivered via direct deposit. Submit applications online. The application deadline is August 31, 2020.

Student Loan Relief

The province is providing six months of Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) loan and interest accrual relief.

From March 30, 2020 to September 30, 2020, students will not be required to make any OSAP loan payments. Interest will not accrue on their student loans.

During this deferral:

  • Payments will not be withdrawn from their account if they are on pre-authorized debit
  • If they make payments through online banking or cheque, they are not required to send in payments due during this period
  • They can still make one-time payments online if they want to repay the loan faster.

Payments during this period will go entirely towards the loan principal.

There is no application required.

Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS)

The Ontario Government announced a temporary top-up to payments made through the Ontario Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS).

The Guaranteed Annual Income System (GAINS) maximum payment will be doubled for six months, starting in April 2020:

  • $166 per month for individuals (from $83)
  • $332 per month for couples (from $166)

If you are a GAINS recipient, you will receive this extra support automatically for six months, with the first payment on April 24, 2020.

You may qualify for monthly Guaranteed Annual Income System payments (a non-taxable benefit to low income Ontario Seniors).

Eligibility requirements are available online.


The government is taking measures to support Ontario workers through several different initiatives.

Legislation will be passed to provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures.

There will be $100 million in funding allocated through Employment Ontario for skills training programs for workers affected by the COVID‑19 outbreak. The province will work with the federal government to find ways to support apprentices and enable businesses to continue to retain these skilled trades workers during the outbreak.

Further details have not yet been released.

Disclaimer: The material above is provided for educational and informational purposes only.