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Canada United Small Business Relief Fund offers up to $5,000 for PPE


November 3, 2020
By Bonny Koabel, CPA, CGA

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COVID-19 has adversely affected all businesses, especially retail and eating establishments which have had to introduce barriers at cash registers, hand-sanitizing stations and staff employees in PPE just to carry on daily operations, along with changes to websites to include delivery options.

The federal government has just introduced the $12 million Canada United Business Relief Fund to help offset some of the costs that small businesses are facing as a result of COVID-19. The fund opened on Oct. 26, 2020, and funds will be distributed on first-come first-serve basis. Funding is up to $5,000 per business and a decision on applications will be made within 40 days after being received. Be sure in get your application in soon refund the funds are all gone.

How do I qualify for the Canada United Business Relief Fund?

In order to qualify for funding companies must meet the following criteria:

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  • Only one application may be submitted per ownership group
  • Be incorporated, or operating as a sole proprietor/partnership, in Canada as of March 1, 2020
  • Have no more than 75 employees
  • Have minimum annual sales of $150,000 and not more than $3,000,000
  • Be in operation after Sept. 1, 2020 (grant recipients must sign a declaration included in the approval letter to confirm)
  • Must attach all necessary receipts and invoices, accompanied with proof of payment, with the application. Failure to include sufficient expenditure details and accompanying documents will result in automatic disqualification
  • Be in full compliance with all applicable government laws, rules, regulations, guidelines and other legally binding measures (self declaration)
  • Must submit the company’s sales tax (GST/HST) registration document or a recent sales tax (GST/HST) filing

Priority applicants for consideration will include businesses owned by Indigenous People, women, visible minorities, LGBTQ2+, and persons with disabilities. Consideration will also be made to ensure the fund is distributed broadly to all regions across the country.

Eligible activities and costs

There are three categories of purchases that are eligible for reimbursement under the program:

  • Purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Renovation of space to adhere to re-opening guidelines
  • Enhancement of website/ developing e-commerce capability

Eligible expenses directly related to the above categories are permitted provided that purchases were made no earlier than March 15, 2020.

Category details

Purchase of personal protective equipment (PPE)

Purchase of personal protective equipment may include equipment purchased to ensure operations are safe for both customers and employees. Eligible equipment costs are incremental costs associated with additional precautions for COVID-19, not normal ongoing business costs. This may include:

  • Masks
  • Face shields
  • Gloves
  • Sanitizer
  • Disinfectant chemicals/ wipes
  • Chemical sprayers
  • No touch thermometers
  • Protective gear such as scrubs, lab coats, etc.

Renovation of space to adhere to re-opening guidelines

Renovation of space includes alterations specifically related to COVID-19 that are temporary or permanent, made to the applicant’s business to reduce the risk to customers or staff. These renovations can include:

  • The building or purchase of physical barriers (plexiglass, sneeze guards, etc.)
  • The creation of signage or floor markers
  • The building or purchase of sanitizing stations
  • The building or purchase of materials used to create a structure to facilitate curbside pickup or contactless payment, or to otherwise move aspects of the business outside (outside buildings, tents, etc.)
  • The installation of touchless devices such as doors, waste containers and bathroom upgrades (taps sinks, etc.)
  • Enhancement of website/ developing e-commerce capability
  • Enhancement of website/ e-commerce capability involves developing or upgrading a website to better serve customers and pivot business operations as a direct response to COVID -19. Detailed description of enhancements must be provided including quotes where applicable.

Enhancement of website
Expenses relating to the enhancement of your business’s website may include:

  • Creating or designing a website
  • Hiring external staff for copywriting to write/enhance descriptions found on the website
  • Having professional photos taken for products

E-commerce capability

Expenses can include:

  • The one-time set-up fee for online e-commerce transactions
  • Monthly fees (from March to September 2020) to support new e-commerce set up. Costs must be incremental – monthly costs associated with pre-existing e-commerce platforms are not eligible.
  • Webinar software to allow continued engagement with customers
  • Hardware allowing for touchless payment

Ineligible costs and expenses

The following costs are ineligible and will not be considered:

  • Taxes
  • Consulting fees
  • Business plans/strategic plans/feasibility studies/strategies etc.
  • Inventory costs
  • Employee wages
  • Existing operating costs
  • Office furniture
  • Laptops, headphones, printers, cables, etc.
  • Third-party delivery transaction fees
  • Renovations not required for social distancing
  • Social media advertising, posts, marketing etc.
  • Items purchased for resale
  • Recurring subscription fees/services implemented pre-COVID-19
  • General cleaning services

How to submit an application

To apply for the Canada United Business Relief Fund go to https://occ.ca/canada-united-small-business-relief-fund/ and click on the link to access the application.


Bonny Koabel, CPA, CGA, is president of AKR Consulting Canada, a Mississauga, Ont., firm specializing in government grants, rebates, refunds, subsidies and tax cCredits.