News and Updates

For the latest news and updates on COVID-19 visit our News and Notices page.

The Aurora Economic Development Team will continue to support businesses during this difficult time. To ensure the health and safety of our clients and staff, all business support activities will be conducted via phone and online. 

Support from the Town of Aurora

Outdoor Patio Extension

The Town of Aurora has prepared an updated patio extension and new patio fact sheet for 2021 to help support restaurants and bars to temporarily extend outdoor patio spaces to safely accommodate patrons and staff once licensed establishments are permitted to fully reopen again for business.

The Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO) in an effort to support businesses as they work to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, the AGCO is authorizing eligible “By the Glass” licenses to temporarily extend or add a temporary physical extension of their licensed premises, until January 1, 2022 at 3 a.m.

For restaurants and bars seeking to extend or create new patio space, the Town of Aurora requires the submission of a Site Plan Exemption Application that includes a scaled plan that shows the following:

Location and dimensions of patio

  • Setbacks of patio to buildings and property lines
  • Location of existing buildings/structures on site include entrances/exits
  • Patio fencing details (materials, height and locations for entrance/exit)
  • Furniture and fixture placement within patio, if possible
  • Aisle widths within the patio
  • Location of parking, pedestrian and drive aisles on site – dimensions may be required if patio encroaches into any of these areas
  • Copy of Liquor License
  • Provide photos of the space (optional)

The Town is waving the application fee for site plan exemptions for patio expansions.

Patio Exemption Application Form

The Town will review all patio applications and design concepts from businesses to ensure universal accessibility, public safety (including fire and separation from traffic) and the streetscape experience is enhanced and not negatively impacted by the introduction or extension of a patio. All applications are required to comply with the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act (AODA).

For more information please see the Patio Fact Sheet or send an email to the Planning Department.

Additional Information

Business Visitation Program

About the Program

Town staff will conduct pre-arranged visits with the local business community to understand the impact of COVID-19, advise how the Town can help triage issues businesses are facing during the pandemic and provide assistance to move forward to recovery. This program is open to all businesses in Aurora.

The Business Visitation Program was launched on June 8, following the feedback received from the Mayor’s Aurora Business Continuity (ABC) Task Force Survey and as part of the Town of Aurora’s economic development efforts.

Schedule your  Business Visit or Outreach Call

The Town invites all Aurora based businesses to schedule a business visitation or outreach call with the Office of Economic Development by completing Aurora Business Visitation Online Intake Form Once the form is filled out staff from Economic Development will contact you to discuss and confirm your appointment.

Learn More

For more information about the Business Visitation Program please email the Economic Development department.

Aurora Business Visitation Online Intake Form

Business Recovery

The Aurora Economic Development office is committed to supporting the immediate and long-term economic success of the business community in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Please note that resources being made available provincially, federally and at the local level are changing each day. As an Economic Development team, we endeavour to provide the most up-to-date information and to create information resources for companies operating locally to assist in business continuity.

York Region put together a checklist of things that businesses should do FIRST when looking at business recovery.

The Northern Six (N6) municipalities of York Region and the York Region Economic Development Strategy Office are working together to assist local businesses through this crisis. Please fill out the form at the following link to request information on the changing resources available to companies in Ontario. You should also fill out this form if you require direct assistance from an Economic Development Officer.

Request Information and assistance from an Economic Development Officer.

Property Tax Relief

The Town of Aurora has supported residents and businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing additional property tax relief measures for the 2020 property tax installations. At this time, all deadlines to apply for relief measures have passed.

Please contact our tax department with any questions.

Water bills will continue to be sent out and we ask that residents still continue to pay to the best of their ability. Water bills that are not paid at the due date will still be moved to the property tax account.

Please contact our water department with any questions.

Business Pandemic Planning and Re-opening Checklist

The Town of Aurora has developed the Business Pandemic Planning and Re-opening Checklist for businesses to use and implement in their operations. The checklist should only be used in conjunction with the respective industry guidelines set out by the Province of Ontario.

Business Pandemic Planning and Reopening Checklist

Ensuring a Healthy Workplace for All

Aurora Business Continuity Task Force

The Town of Aurora in partnership with the Aurora Chamber of Commerce has created a specialized task force to help support the local economy and provide assistance to small businesses in Aurora. The Aurora Business Continuity Task Force will bring together business professionals with global, national and local experience to help find creative ways to assist Aurora’s small businesses. 

Please visit our Business Continuity Task Force webpage for more information.

Aurora Chamber of Commerce Business Support

Information and Resources

View the latest in COVID-19 pandemic updates from the Aurora Chamber of Commerce

York Region Business Support

Information and Resources

York Region provides a variety of programs designed to attract and support business, large and small. Learn more below.

Mandatory Use of Non-Medical Face Masks and Coverings

Effective Friday, July 17, 2020 as of 12:01 a.m., business owners and operators in York Region must have a policy in place to prohibit people from entering if they are not wearing a face mask or covering. Customers, employees and visitors who enter enclosed public spaces must wear a face mask or covering.

Federal Government

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy

On October 9, 2020 the Government of Canada announced the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy program which is replacing the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program established earlier this year in response to COVID-19. The new program will provide rent subsidy directly to tenants through the Canada Revenue Agency.

Program Details

  • CERS will support tenants directly instead of through the property owners as in the previous CECRA Program

  • The new rent subsidy will support eligible businesses, charities and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020.

  • Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.

  • If a business is required to close by a public health order issued by the public health authority, CERS will provide a top up of 25 per cent of eligible expenses.

  • CERS will provide a subsidy for eligible fixed property expenses, including rent and interest on commercial mortgages.

  • This program will extend through June 2021 with the program to be adapted in December for 2021.

  • For more information visit the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy webpage
Canadian Emergency Response Fund Benefit (CERB)

The benefit will be 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
  • Who had 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 consecutive days in the initial four-week period.  For subsequent benefit periods, they expect to have no employment or self-employment income, or they will earn $1,000 or less per month.
  • Seasonal workers who will not be hired because of COVID-19 and those whose EI benefits expired since January will also be eligible for CERB.

For more information on how to apply visit the Government of Canada website.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

Eligible employers include:

  • individuals
  • taxable corporations
  • partnerships consisting of eligible employers, non profit organizations and registered charities. Those that see a drop of at least 15% of their revenue in March 2020 and 30% for the following months (see Eligible Periods).

Amount of Subsidy:

The subsidy amount for a given employee on eligible remuneration paid for the period between March 15 and June 6, 2020 is the greater of:

  • 75% of the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week; and
  • the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75% of the employee's pre-crisis weekly remuneration, whichever is less.

For more information and instructions view the Government of Ontario webpage.

10% Wage Subsidy for Employers
For more information and instructions on how to apply view the Government of Canada webpage.
Work Sharing Program

For more information and instructions on how to apply view the Government of Canada webpage.

Temporary Changes to Canada Summer Jobs Program
If you have already applied to the Canada Summer Jobs Program, the government is making temporary changes to the program to allow employers to:
  • receive an increased wage subsidy, so that private and public sector employers can also receive up to 100 per cent 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.
Deferred Tax Payments

Income Tax – The Federal Government is allowing 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 1, 2020.

This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as installments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act.  No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.

Sales Tax – The Federal Government is allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the GST/HST, as well as customs duty owing on their imports.

Any GST/HST payment that becomes owing from March 27 until the end of May can be deferred until the end of June. For GST and customs duty payments for imported goods, deferral will include amounts owing for March, April and May.

These amounts were normally due to be submitted to the Canada Revenue Agency and the Canada Border Services Agency as early as the end of March 2020.

For more information visit the Government of Canada webpage or view the frequently asked questions on tax payments. 

Access to Credit

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

The CEBA provides much needed credit for small businesses to pay for immediate operating costs such as payroll, rent, utilities, insurance, property tax, or debt service. It is 100 per cent funded by the Government of Canada.

  • It is available to Canadian employers with $50,000 to $1 million in total payroll in 2019 and operating as of March 1, 2020. This includes smaller (i.e., micro) businesses and other eligible employers such as not-for-profits.
  • Under CEBA, financial institutions will be able to provide interest-free credit facilities of up to $40,000 to eligible businesses.
  • If the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022, 25 per cent (up to $10,000) will be forgiven.
  • If the loan is not repaid by December 31, 2022, the remaining balance will be converted to a three-year term loan at 5 per cent interest.  

Here are links to the top 5 Financial Institutions – If your financial institution is not listed here, check your bank’s website for the CEBA application portal:

Please Note: Although not always clear on the application websites you must enter the total employment income paid in 2019 from your Company T4 SUM tax return listed in box 14.

Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium Enterprises

EDC Loan Guarantee for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises – This program provides credit and cash flow term loans to small and medium-sized enterprises. Canadian businesses in all sectors that were otherwise financially viable and revenue generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak are eligible to apply.

It allows financial institutions to issue operating credit and cash flow term loans of up to $6.25 million to existing clients, with 80 per cent guaranteed by EDC.
This money is to be used for operational expenses, not for dividend payouts, shareholder loans, bonuses, stock buyback, option issuance, increases to executive compensation or repayment/refinancing of other debt.

This program is now available at various financial institutions and credit unions.

BDC Co-Lending Program for Small and Medium Enterprises – This program provides term loans for operational and liquidity needs of businesses, which could include interest payments on existing debt. Similar to the EDC program, this program is available to businesses that were financially viable and revenue-generating prior to the COVID-19 outbreak.
The program is designed in three segments to target support to different business sizes.

  • Loans of up to $312,500 to businesses with revenues of less than $1 million.
  • Up to $3.125 million for businesses with revenues between $1 million and $50 million.
  • Up to $6.25 million for businesses with revenues in excess of $50 million.

Loans would be interest-only for the first 12 months, with a 10-year repayment period. This program is now available at various financial institutions and credit unions.

For more information view the BDC Co-Lending program webpage.

Support for Self-Employed Individuals

The Federal Government will provide a taxable benefit of $2,000 a month for up to 4 months to eligible workers who have lost their income due to COVID-19. A portal with simple questions will help the government direct you to the service option that best fits your situation (i.e. eligibility for Employment Insurance benefits or not).

For more information and instructions on how to apply view the Government of Ontario CERB information.

Support for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations

The COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations will provide $500 million to help address the financial needs of affected organizations within these sectors. The fund will be administered by Canadian Heritage via contribution agreements. More details to follow.

Support for Charities and Non-Profit Organizations

The Federal Government announced a $350M Emergency Community Support Fund in support of Charities and Non-Profit Organizations. The investment will flow through national organizations that have the ability to get funds quickly to local organizations that serve populations.  It will support a variety of activities, such as:  

Increasing volunteer-based home deliveries of groceries and medications; Providing transportation services, like accompanying or driving seniors or persons with disabilities to appointments; Scaling up help lines that provide information and support; Helping vulnerable Canadians access government benefits; Providing training, supplies, and other required supports to volunteers so they can continue to make their invaluable contributions to the COVID-19 response; and Replacing in-person, one-on-one contact and social gatherings with virtual contact through phone calls, texts, teleconferences, or the Internet.

More details to follow.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance

The Federal Government announced its intent to introduce the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses. The program will seek to 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. Implementation of the program will require a partnership between the federal government and provincial and territorial governments, which are responsible for property owner-tenant relationships. The Federal Government will work with the provinces and territories to increase rent support for businesses that are most impacted by the pandemic. 

More details to follow.

Provincial Government

Ontario’s Property Tax and Energy Cost Rebates Program

On November 16, businesses in modified Stage 2 regions or, going forward, in areas categorized as control or lockdown, can apply for rebates to help with fixed costs, such as property tax and energy bills

For more information please visit the COVID-19 businesses help page.

Reopening Ontario

Ontario is preparing for the reopening of business. A Framework for Reopening our Province lays out the government’s approach to the next chapter in the ongoing fight to defeat COVID-19. It outlines the principles the government will use to reopen businesses, services and public spaces in gradual stages. It also explains the criteria Ontario’s Chief Medical Officer of Health will use to help advise the government on when it is safe to begin loosening public health restrictions. Read A Framework for Reopening our Province for more information.

Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program

The Ontario Government is committing $241 million to partner with the federal government and deliver more than $900 million in urgent relief to small businesses and their landlords through a new program, the Ontario-Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program (OCECRA).

The OCECRA will provide forgivable loans to eligible commercial property owners experiencing potential rent shortfalls because their small business tenants have been heavily impacted by the COVID-19 crisis.

How does the program work?

The program has been developed to share the cost between small business tenants and landlords. Small business tenants and landlords would each be asked to pay 25 per cent of the before profit costs and the provincial and federal government would cost share the remaining 50 per cent.

For example, a monthly rent for a small business is $10,000. In this example, assume the landlord doesn't make a profit. The landlord forgoes $2,500 (25 per cent of rent). The small business would be responsible for paying $2,500 (25 per cent of rent). The government would cover the remaining $5,000, with $3,750 from the federal government (37.5 per cent of rent) and $1,250 (12.5 per cent of rent) from the provincial government.

To receive the loan, property owners will be required to reduce the rental costs of small business tenants for April to June 2020 by at least 75 per cent. The loan would also be contingent on the signing of a rent forgiveness agreement between impacted tenants and landlords. This would also include a moratorium on evictions for three months.

How long would a commercial property owner have to apple of OCECRA?

The OCECRA would be administered by the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) and would be available until September 30, 2020. Support would be retroactive to April 1, covering April, May and June 2020.

Are there any eligibility requirements for commercial property owners?

The OCECRA would apply to commercial properties with small business tenants.

Commercial properties with a residential component, and residential mixed-use properties with a 30 per cent commercial component, would be equally eligible for support with respect to their commercial tenants.

The property owner must be the registered owner and landlord of the residential or commercial real estate property.

If a property owner does not have a mortgage secured by a commercial rental property, the property owner should  contact CMHC to discuss program options, which may include applying funds against other forms of debt facilities or fixed cost payment obligations (e.g. utilities).

What are the eligibility requirements for small businesses?

Pays monthly rent not exceeding $50,000 in gross rent payments; and is,
A non-essential small business that has temporarily closed, or who is experiencing a 70 per cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues (determined by comparing revenues in April, May or June to the same month in 2019 or alternatively compared to average revenues for January and February 2020).
Not-for-profit organizations and charitable entities would also be considered for the program.

The program will be available by mid-May. More details to follow.

List of Essential Workplaces

View a list of Essential Workplaces.

Financial Relief

Interest and Penalty Relief

Businesses will get five months of interest and penalty relief to file and make payments for the majority of provincially administered taxes. Between April 1, 2020 and August 31, 2020, the province will not apply any penalty or interest on any late-filed returns or incomplete or late tax payments under select provincially administered taxes, such as Employer Health Tax, Tobacco Tax and Gas Tax.

Education property tax deferrals

The Ontario Government has deferred the June 30 property tax payments municipalities make to school boards by 90 days.

WSIB payment deferrals

Employers can defer Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) payments for up to six months. All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the financial relief package.

  • Schedule 1 employers who owe premiums to the WSIB will be allowed to defer reporting and payments until August 1, 2020.
  • Schedule 2 businesses that pay WSIB for the cost related to their workplace injury and illness claims can defer reporting and payments until August 31, 2020.

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

Affordable Electricity Bills
From March 24 to May 8, 2020, residential, farm and small business time-of-use customers will get the lowest rate — also known as the off-peak price — 24 hours a day. That means you will pay 10.1 ¢/kWh no matter what time of day you use electricity.
This rate will be automatically applied to your bill.

Tax Relief

Employer Health Tax relief

We’re increasing the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption for 2020 from $490,000 to $1 million. As an employer, this means relief of up to $9,945.

What this means for you:

The annual tax return form is not changing. Only the amount for the exemption claimed will change. Eligibility for the tax exemption, tax rates and everything else remains the same.
You will begin making your installment payments after your payroll has exceeded the new $1 million exemption level.

If your business no longer needs to make installment payments as a result of the increased exemption amount, you do not need to notify the Ministry of Finance.

If you have already filed a final or special return for 2020 – The ministry will be reviewing all 2020 EHT returns and correcting the returns for the new exemption level.
Find out how you can apply the new exemption.

Other Resources

Industry Organization Support

Industry organizations have provided guidelines to help their members and businesses, in general, respond to COVID-19. Visit the links below for more information:

Resources to Support the Workplace


Support for Cultural, Heritage and Sport Organizations