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Did you take advantage of COVID-19 relief programs? As some government initiatives end and others evolve, we've rounded up the latest information on relief and financing programs, advice on how best to manage them and other ideas to help give your business a boost as you plan for 2022.

Throughout the pandemic, government relief programs enabled many businesses to access the cash needed to operate, recover and grow as local economies opened up. As some programs come to an end and others evolve, it’s important to know what’s available as well as the deadlines for application and action.

Government Relief Programs Updates: Q&A with RBC Experts

RBC Business Advisors share valuable tips for business owners to maximize cash flow, manage debt and identify funding opportunities for financial growth.

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA)

About ItKey Dates
Application Status – CLOSED


The Government of Canada provided the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) to support Canadian businesses adversely affected by COVID-19 through loans up to $60,000. Until January 20, 2022, your RBC loan is funded as a revolving line of credit, after which date the outstanding balance is converted to a term loan.

Organizations may qualify for loan forgiveness if stated repayments are made by December 31, 2021.

January 20, 2022: Revolving line of credit converts to a term loan

December 31, 2022:

For loans with a $60,000 limit – If you repay $40,000 of the $60,000 by this date, loan forgiveness of $20,000 will apply.

For loans with a $40,000 limit – If 75% of the maximum balance is paid by this date, loan forgiveness of 25% will apply.

January 1, 2023: Interest begins to apply to any outstanding loan amount

December 31, 2025: The entire loan and all accrued and unpaid interest becomes due and payable


Q: I’ve received a CEBA loan and I’m ready to repay it. How and when do I pay it back to take advantage of the debt forgiveness part of the program?

A: “Repaying the outstanding balance of your loan (other than the amount available to be forgiven) by December 31, 2022, will result in loan forgiveness,” explains Joanne Ironside, RBC Business Account Manager. Loan forgiveness applies provided that no default under the CEBA loan has occurred. Here are the terms of loan forgiveness explained further:

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If you borrowed $40,000 or less, you may be eligible for loan forgiveness of 25 percent of the maximum amount that you borrowed on your loan. For example:

  • If you borrowed $40,000 and repay $30,000 by December 31, 2022, $10,000 of the loan will be forgiven and you will not need to repay it.

If you borrowed $60,000, you may be eligible for $20,000 in loan forgiveness. For example:

  • If you borrowed $60,000 and repay $40,000 by December 31, 2022, $20,000 of the loan will be forgiven.

Visit RBC’s CEBA page for more details on this program.

The full terms of loan forgiveness can be found on the Government of Canada website.


Q: I’ve received a CEBA loan, and I won’t be paying it back early (I still need access to the full amount). What are my payment terms?

A: “You can access funds from your CEBA loan until January 20, 2022,” says Ironside. “After this date, it converts to a term loan – there is 0% interest charged until December 31, 2022 and no principal payments are required during this time.”

As of January 1, 2023, you will be charged interest on your loan at a rate of 5% per annum which is payable monthly. No principal repayments are required until December 31, 2025 when the entire loan and all accrued and unpaid interest becomes due and payable.

Q: I’ve received a CEBA loan and I’m not ready to repay it, but I don’t need to use it all right now. How can I get the money working hard for me until I need it?

A: “Every business has unique cash flow needs. I recommend speaking with your Account Manager or speak with an RBC Business Advisor (book appointment online or call 1-800-769-2520) to discuss the options that are best for you and your business,” advises Ironside.


Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP)

About ItApplication StatusKey Dates
The Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) was introduced to support Canadian businesses that were negatively impacted by COVID-19. Eligible applicants can access up to $1 million (maximum loan amounts depend on business size) to cover operational cash flow needs.

To qualify,

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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.

OPENHACSAP is available until December 31, 2021, however business owners are encouraged to apply by November 30, 2021 so applications may be processed before this deadline.


Q: I haven’t applied for HASCAP yet. What should I consider as I apply?

A: “It’s important to keep in mind that the HASCAP loan is a fixed rate loan product, which comes with a penalty should it be repaid early. Careful consideration should be made as to the amount your business requires to effectively operate until regular volumes can be resumed,” explains Ironside.

“It’s also important to note that eligibility is dependent on a 50% year-over-year revenue decrease in any three of the last eight months trailing your application date,” adds Jeffrey Heard, RBC Commercial Account Manager.

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If your application is completed in December, for instance, you will be comparing revenue as follows:

April 2021 – November 2021 vs. April 2020 – November 2020

“When figuring out if you are indeed still eligible, you’ll want to consider that you are now dealing with year-over-year monthly comparisons that are no longer in the heart of the shutdown on either end of the comparison,” Heard further explains.

Heard and Ironside also emphasize that HACSAP is formal term debt and should be allocated into a company’s fixed expense projections for the term of the loan. For example, it should be treated how rent, insurance or other fixed expenses would be planned and accounted for.


Q: I received a HASCAP loan earlier this year. How much longer can I defer principal payments?

A: “When your HASCAP loan is approved by your lender, your repayment terms will be determined at that time,” says Ironside. “You can choose to make interest-only payments over the first twelve months and select a repayment term and schedule that meets your needs after that. Loans can be amortized for up to ten years – interest rates are fixed at 4%.”

Status of Other Programs

Canada Recovery Hiring Program

The Canada Recovery Hiring Program provides a subsidy on eligible salaries or wages to help hard-hit businesses hire the workers they need to recover and grow.

There are two streams under this program:

  • *NEW* The Tourism and Hospitality Recovery Program provides wage and rent support to hotels, tour operators, travel agencies and restaurants of up to 75%*
  • *New* The Hardest-Hit Business Recovery Program supports other businesses that have incurred deep losses with a subsidy rate of up to 50%*
Source: Department of Finance Canada
OPENThe government is proposing to extend the Canada Recovery Hiring Program until May 7, 2022.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

The Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) provided a rent and mortgage subsidy for eligible expenses to qualifying businesses, charities and non-profits.

The first phase of CERS ended October 23, 2021, however hard-hit sectors such as hotels and restaurants are eligible to claim up to $300,000 in total eligible expenses as of October 24, 2021.

Phase 1: CLOSED (as of October 23)

Phase 2: (for hard-hit sectors): OPEN

The government is proposing targeted support for eligible hard-hit employers until March 13, 2022.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

The Government of Canada’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) provided eligible employers with a subsidy of 75% of employee wages for up to 24 weeks, retroactive from March 15, 2020, to August 29, 2020.


(as of October 23, 2021)

Phase 2: (for hard-hit sectors): OPEN

The government is proposing targeted support for eligible hard-hit employers until March 13, 2022.

From March 13 – May 7, 2022, the subsidy rates will decrease by half.

BDC Co-Lending Program

The BDC Co-Lending program is designed to support Canadian businesses of all sizes that have been negatively impacted by COVID-19.

Eligible applicants can access funding up to $6.25 million CAD (maximum loan amounts dependent on business size) to cover operating expenses (such as rent, payroll and other operating expenses) and working capital needs.

OPENThis support is available until December 31, 2021.

BDC Mid-Market Financing Program

The BDC Mid-Market Financing Program is designed to help medium-sized Canadian businesses (revenues in the range of $100 million to $500 million) impacted by COVID-19. Eligible applicants can access $12.5 million to $60 million CAD (or USD equivalent) in short-term liquidity to maintain their staff, preserve supply chains and manage cash-flow.

OPENThis support is available until December 31, 2021.

EDC Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Guarantee

The Export Development Canada (EDC) BCAP Guarantee is designed to help Canadian businesses impacted by COVID-19.

Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises: Eligible applicants can access up to $6.25 million CAD in short-term liquidity to cover expenses that are critical to business continuity such as rent, payroll and other operational costs.

Medium-Sized Businesses: Eligible companies with revenues between $50 million and $300 million can access from $16.75 million to a maximum of $80 million to sustain operations.

OPENThis support is available until December 31, 2021.

Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF)

The Large Employer Emergency Financing Facility (LEEFF) provides bridge financing to Canada’s largest employers, providing businesses, their workers and suppliers to remain active and positioned for recovery.

OPENLEEFF will be open until further notice


Q: There are several different financing programs available. How do I determine which one I should apply to?

A: “As there are many programs, each with different purposes and eligibility requirements, it’s a good idea to speak with your Account Manager or designated RBC representative. Alternatively, you can book an online appointment to speak with an RBC Business Advisor. They can help you navigate the options and provide guidance on making a decision that’s best for the present and future needs of your business,” says Josh Morawetz, RBC Business Advisor.

Q: What should I do to prepare for a loan application?

A: “Applying for loans in the current environment is slightly different than pre-COVID. Loan approvals are not as black and white as they used to be.” explains Heard. “It’s a good idea to engage in a conversation with your Account Manager early on so they can help you from a strategic planning perspective. Getting as detailed as possible about your prospects and having plans and projections prepared will help with the process,” he explains.


Alternative Funding Options

There are more ways to fund your business beyond government programs, many of which come with additional benefits such as networking and mentorship opportunities. Here are programs that can help you run your business, whether you’re currently recovering, growing or holding steady.


Non-repayable government grants can allow companies to expand, create jobs, advance innovation and launch environmental initiatives. While grants can be game-changers for businesses, the grant landscape is both complex and dynamic.

GrantMatch is an industry leader in securing government funding for organizations. They cut through the confusion and complexity and uncover the financial resources and incentives that best match the needs of your business.

Learn More >

Provincial Programs

In addition to federal government programs, provincial governments have implemented a wide range of initiatives to support local businesses. Visit the Government of Canada website to locate provincial and territorial support.


Futurpreneur is the only national, non-profit organization that provides resources, financing and mentoring to aspiring and new entrepreneurs so they can build a successful future.

Supporting young entrepreneurs with an expert business mentor for up to two years and resources to help plan, launch, manage and grow a business, they help turn great ideas into thriving businesses.

Learn More >

RBC Black Entrepreneur Loan Fund

The RBC Black Entrepreneur Loan Fund is available to eligible Black entrepreneurs in Canada who are looking to start, manage or grow their business with access to loans up to $250,000.

In addition, the Black Entrepreneur Program brings together business, marketing and digital experts with community leaders to share ideas and best practices in a concrete effort to advance growth for Black entrepreneurs. Not only does the program provide access to capital, it offers access to experts and support for Black communities across Canada.

Learn more >

Magnet Student Work Placement Program

For businesses looking to grow and take advantage of government subsidies, the Magnet Student Work Placement Program (SWPP), in partnership with RBC Future Launch, provides businesses up to $7,500 to hire students in a cost-effective way, while supporting youth and diversity employment.

Bringing together “employers, students, and post-secondary school stakeholders to create quality work-integrated learning (WIL) opportunities, the program provides employers with wage subsidies to hire post-secondary students for paid work experiences. Students in turn benefit with quality work experience so they can secure employment in their chosen fields of study.”

Learn more >

1. While some of these options may be available to you and your business, they may increase your interest costs or your outstanding principal balance over the life of your loan or increase the outstanding balance on your credit card during the relief period, if applicable. You should carefully evaluate your financial situation and priorities before exercising any of these options to the extent they are available to you.
2. While information presented here is believed to be factual and current, its accuracy is not guaranteed and it should not be regarded as a complete analysis of the subjects discussed. If you have further questions about any of these programs please consult the applicable government websites or, if you are an RBC business client, speak to an RBC advisor by booking an online appointment.