Both the federal and provincial governments have announced an $57 million investment to small businesses across Ontario.
The program was announced on Thursday by Prabmeet Sarkaria, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, joined by Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages and Minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario.
“As thousands of small businesses across the province closed their doors and halted business during the COVID-19 outbreak, many struggled to shift sales or services online. I am very pleased, that together with Minister Joly and our federal partners, we are providing small businesses with the tools they need to recover, and flourish, as Ontario reopens,” said Minister Sarkaria.
The investment program will be helping 22,900 Ontario businesses.
This investment will help small businesses go digital by building onto Toronto’s investments into Digital Main Street and ShopHERE.
An investment of $50 million has been made by the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). The other $7.6 million comes from the Province of Ontario.
“We are doing everything we can, in cooperation with the federal and provincial governments, to help businesses during these difficult times,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.
“Only by working together will we be able to address the enormous impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, including the devastation to the economy. I’m proud that our federal and provincial partners have seen the value of our made-in-Toronto Digital Main Street program and I am pleased that it will now be available across Ontario. In Toronto, this additional investment will allow us to offer grants and a new program to help small businesses future-proof to become more resilient and competitive.”
The additional investment will fund a $2,500 Digital Main Street grant, for Toronto businesses. This grant will help small businesses to purchase technology.
According to the City of Toronto, the grant will also provide funding for students and staff to deliver the City’s ShopHERE. This program will help small businesses and artists to open up their own Shopify store.
The Future-Proofing Main Street program will also be launched. This will help main street businesses pivot their business models. It will also help to develop and implement digital transformation plans.
The City of Toronto has partnered federal and provincial governments, as well as the Toronto Business Improvement Area Association (TABIA), the Toronto Region Board of Trade and Schulich School of Business – York University. These partnerships are to help main street businesses adopt technologies to complete now and in the future.
The City of Toronto and the Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas created Digital Main Street. They created Digital Main Street in 2016 to help main street businesses use technology.
The Digital Main Street program has recently been expanded by the City. This increased funding from $240,000 to $825,000. It also introduced ShopHERE and partnered with Ritual to offer the Ritual ONE app free to local bars, restaurants and food services. This introduction is part of the Mayor’s economic support and recovery plan for Toronto businesses.
“Main street businesses are the heart of our communities, not just here in Toronto but across the province. Through all the programs and policies launched during the pandemic, businesses have been clear: dollars and cents are the most important for survival,”said Councillor Brad Bradford, Beaches-East York (Ward 19).
“Our provincial and federal government partners have stepped up and doubled-down on the efforts we’re already making. Many of our main street business owners are our family, friends and neighbours. This is the best of our values as Torontonians, Ontarians and Canadians coming together to support each other.”