Electricity rate cuts, tax refunds and a $10,000 grant for small businesses closed by COVID restrictions among new Whitby supports announced

By Liam McConnell

Published on January 28, 2022 at 2:34 p.m.

Yesterday the province announced a range of new supports for businesses across Ontario from Whitby, including a business tax refund, relief grants and reduced electricity costs for those who are forced to close or limit the capacity during the last lockout.

Vic Fedeli, Minister for Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, announced the package of support measures for small businesses promoted by MP for Whitby, Lorne Coe.

“We are committed to supporting the companies most impacted by public health measures. With these new programs, the government is providing relief to many local small businesses that create jobs for hard-working families in Whitby,” Coe said.

The first program announced is the Ontario Business Expense Rebate Program, which provides businesses with energy and tax rebates. Any business forced to close or limit capacity as part of the latest public health measure to combat the spread of the Omicron variant can apply for the program.

The cost rebates will return 100% of a business’s property taxes and energy costs as accrued during the last lockdown period to businesses forced to close, such as gyms and restaurants.

Companies that have had to reduce their capacity by half, such as small businesses, will be reimbursed for half of their energy and building expenses. When applying, a company will need to submit proof of costs.

Second, the province is implementing a new treasury program. The government has introduced a 6-month interest-free period during which businesses can make payments on their provincial taxes without penalty, starting January 1.

Then there is the Electricity Rate Relief Program which reduces energy costs for 21 days by allocating the hourly off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt hour. This change has happened automatically and will appear directly on residents’ electricity bills. This rate reduction applies to residences and small businesses.

Finally, Ontario will provide $10,000 to small businesses forced to close by health restrictions through the COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant. Businesses eligible for the grant include; restaurants and bars, gyms and recreation centers, performing arts centers, cinemas, museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centers, monuments, historic sites, botanical gardens, meeting or event spaces, tour services and from guides, conference centers and convention centers, driving instructors and before and after school programs.

Eligible companies will be pre-screened so they do not need to apply for the program. However, new businesses will need to apply through a portal coming in the coming weeks. Payments will be sent in February.

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