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The Government of Canada has announced the availability of the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) to support Canadian businesses that have suffered a significant negative impact due to COVID-19.

Many companies have faced a prolonged and substantial impact to their business as a result of COVID-19. To support those hardest-hit, the Canadian Government has empowered the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) to provide loan guarantees to increase eligible businesses’ ability to access long-term stable funding from their financial institution. BDC HASCAP Guarantee Loans with terms up to 10 years are being made available from Canadian financial institutions, including banks and credit unions.

How HASCAP works

Through the program, businesses can access up to $1 million CAD to cover operating expenses such as rent and payroll, and working capital needs such as inventory.

To qualify, your business must have been financially viable prior to March 1, 2020, and be able to show you have sustained at least a 50% year-over-year revenue decline over a three month period (not necessarily consecutive) within the eight-months before your HASCAP application. Your business will have had to apply for – and have received payments from – either the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) Program or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) Program. For businesses that do not qualify for CEWS or CERS, financial statements must reflect at least three months of 50% or more year-over-year revenue decline.

For full eligibility criteria, visit the BDC website.


In a recent presentation hosted by the Retail Council of Canada (RCC), Karen Kastner, Vice President, Partnerships and Government Relations with BDC, shared some details about the program and answered audience questions. Here are 10 questions answered:

Q: Does the program apply only to businesses within certain sectors, such as tourism and hospitality?

A: While the name of the program highlights “highly affected sectors,” the program is in fact sector agnostic. Organizations of any sector may apply.

Q: What are the minimum and maximum loan limits a business owner can apply for?

A: Loans are available from $25,000 up to $1,000,000 per legal entity.

Q: I operate more than one business. How much can I qualify for?

A: For owners that operate several businesses, you can apply for one loan of up to $1 million per legal entity you own. The total maximum loan amount under the HASCAP Guarantee, all legal entities combined, is $6.25 million.

Q: Are there restrictions on how the loan can be used?

A: Proceeds of the loan are meant to fund the operational cash flow needs of a business. Proceeds are not intended to pay down an existing loan and may not be used to pay dividends, distributions, management fees or bonuses.

Q: Can I still apply if I have already received financing under the BDC and EDC Business Credit Availability Program?

A: Yes, you may apply for the program even if you have already obtained financing under the BCAP.

Q: How do I apply?

A: Interested business owners are to contact their primary financial institution to begin the application process.

Q: If I don’t get approved at one financial institution, can I apply somewhere else?

A: You can apply to HASCAP with only one financial institution – your primary lender. The adjudication process was made as formulaic as possible, ensuring businesses would get the same decision regardless of the institution they apply through.

You can only apply via another financial institution if your lender is not participating in the program.

Q: Do I have to start repaying the loan right away?

A: Interest on the loan is to be paid monthly, and upon your approval, your financial institution will lay out your payment schedule. However, you may postpone principal payments for up to twelve months beginning at the start of the loan period.

Q: What rates and fees are involved with the loan?

A: This is a low-interest loan at a 4% fixed interest rate. No transaction fees – upfront or ongoing – are charged on the loan.

Q: Is it a secured or unsecured loan?

A: The loan is secured by a General Security Agreement. No guarantee from an individual person is to be taken to secure the loan.

Remember, all information about the Highly Affected Sectors Availability Program (HASCAP) can be found at the BDC website. Other program terms and conditions not listed in this article may apply.

If you are an RBC Business client, please speak with your RBC Account Manager to learn more about the application process. If you do not have a dedicated RBC Account Manager, please call our Advice Centre at 1-866-591-0757.