COVID-19 Updates

  • Community Update

Canada Emergency Student Benefit application period to launch on May 15, 2020

Post-secondary students across Canada are facing unprecedented challenges as they work to complete their studies and find summer jobs in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. As part of the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, the Government of Canada is providing direct support to students and recent graduates who are facing a very different job market this summer.

On May 13, 2020, the Honourable Carla Qualtrough, Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, along with the Honourable Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, announced that the application period for the Canada Emergency Student Benefit (CESB) will begin on Friday, May 15, 2020. The CESB, which will be delivered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA), will provide temporary income support to eligible post-secondary students and new graduates who are unable to work or find work this summer due to COVID-19, or are working and are not making over $1000.

If you are able to work, you must be actively looking for a job to be eligible to receive the CESB. If you still cannot find work due to COVID-19, or do not earn more than $1,000, you can re-apply for each CESB eligibility period that you are eligible for. Registering with is a way for students to find available opportunities to earn an income and meaningful work experience that will help them succeed in the future.

The CESB will be available from May to August 2020 to students who are Canadian citizens or permanent residents, and who are enrolled in a post-secondary education program leading to a degree, diploma, or certificate; or who ended their studies no earlier than December 2019. It will also be available to Canadian students studying abroad, as well as high school graduates who will be starting a post-secondary program in the coming months. The CESB will provide $1,250 every four weeks to eligible students, or $2,000 every four weeks to eligible students with disabilities, or those with children or other dependants.

The CRA will offer the same fast and easy application process that has delivered CERB payments to millions of Canadians. Starting on May 15, 2020, eligible students will be able to apply for the CESB online through their CRA My Account or by phone through CRA’s automated toll-free line. To help manage the volume of applications, applicants will be asked to apply over four days depending on their month of birth, and can expect their payment in three business days from when they are deemed eligible if they are using direct deposit.

To get ready to apply, the CRA is encouraging eligible students to take three easy steps:

  1. Create a profile with the CRA by calling 1-800-959-8281 (for students who have never filed a tax return)
  2. Register for a CRA My Account as it is the fastest and easiest way to complete an application
  3. Enroll in Direct Deposit to have CESB payments deposited directly into their bank accounts. Financial institutions across the country are also allowing Canadians to sign up for CRA Direct Deposit through their bank portals in a few easy steps.

The Government of Canada remains fully committed to supporting all Canadians during this global pandemic. The Government will continue to carefully consider any additional steps it can take to do just that. 

FedDev Ontario launches Regional Relief and Recovery Fund to support local economies

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in uncertainty and anxiety for businesses and their employees. Small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are at the heart of our economy and our communities. As a source of local employment and pride, they play a key role in the well-being of communities across the country. That is why the Government of Canada has implemented a series of concrete and tangible measures to help them retain their employees, pay rent and access capital to pay their bills.

Building on these measures, the new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) is being delivered by regional development agencies (RDAs) to help more businesses and organizations in sectors across the economy such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and local economies. RDAs are best positioned to provide this additional support as they work closely with communities across the country every day and understand the diverse local realities.

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, announced that southern Ontario businesses that are unable to access other existing measures can now apply for RRRF support through FedDev Ontario. As the RDA for southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario will work with key partners such as the Community Futures Development Corporations across the region to help southern Ontario businesses during these difficult times. A total of $252.4 million will be available for southern Ontario businesses.

The Government of Canada’s efforts are making a difference for many local businesses, but some are still falling through the cracks—particularly in rural and remote communities. This is where the RRRF comes in, with $962 million nationally—including $252.4 million in southern Ontario—to support businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that did not qualify for, or have been declined for existing measures. This is the case, for example, for SMEs in the tourism sector that have been severely impacted by COVID-19 and are, in some cases, ineligible for other federal programs.

Canada’s businesses are as diverse as Canadians are, and the immediate, concrete support available through the Fund will be tailored to their unique needs. This will allow them to be in a position to play a meaningful role in our economic recovery in the months to come.

More information on the Fund is available on the FedDev Ontario website.

$962 million additional support fund now available to businesses and communities affected by the pandemic

The COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in uncertainty and anxiety for small businesses and their employees in all regions of Canada. These businesses are at the heart of communities nationwide and are a source of local jobs and local pride.

Small businesses are the backbone of our economy, which is why the Government of Canada has implemented a series of concrete and tangible measures to help them retain their employees, pay rent and access capital to cover costs. Building on these measures, the new Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) devotes nearly $962 million to help more businesses and organizations in sectors such as manufacturing, technology, tourism and others that are key to the regions and to local economies.

The Honourable Mélanie Joly, Minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, today announced that the RRRF is now accepting applications from businesses and communities. It is specifically targeted toward those that may require additional help to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic but have been unable to access existing support measures. Canada’s businesses are as diverse as Canadians are, and the fund’s immediate, concrete help will be tailored to their unique needs. Most importantly, it will relieve pressures, helping them pay employees and cover costs. In the months to come, it will position them to play a meaningful role in our economic recovery.

The best way to help Canadian communities is through a source they already trust, which is why the six regional development agencies (RDA) will be delivering this funding. Covering every region of Canada, the RDAs are very familiar with the economic realities of their regions and are well suited to assist workers and businesses.

The funding will be allocated as follows:

The funding announced today is part of the Government of Canada’s COVID-19 Economic Response Plan, which commits more than $149 billion to support Canadians and businesses through this difficult time. As other government measures are further strengthened, the RDAs will adapt to meet the ongoing needs of local businesses.

Businesses interested in receiving support through this initiative are now invited to apply for the RRRF through their local RDA.

Ontario Making Prescription Drugs More Affordable During COVID-19

The Ontario government is making the cost of prescription drugs more affordable. Effective May 13, 2020, people using the Ontario Drug Benefit Program will not be required to pay any co-payment until July 1, 2020 for any prescription of 30+ days that is now being dispensed in installments. In addition, existing and new Trillium Drug Program households can apply for an income reassessment to help reduce the financial burden for families during the outbreak.

If a Trillium Drug Program household has experienced an income change in 2019 or 2020 of 10 per cent or more compared to their 2018 income, they can apply to have their deductible recalculated  by completing and submitting the Annual Deductible Re-Assessment Form. Eligible households who are not currently enrolled in the Trillium Drug Program and have high prescription costs can also complete and submit an application and re-assessment form by e-mail or fax.

City of Toronto provides update on key construction projects

The City has announced that over the next couple weeks, the City of Toronto will begin construction on a number of key projects to renew and improve aging infrastructure. With traffic volumes on Toronto’s roads down between 45 and 65 per cent as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the City recently announced that construction is moving forward this year and work will be accelerated on as many important projects as possible. 

Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation – Jarvis Street to Cherry Street, eastbound on-ramp at Jarvis Street replacement 
On Monday, May 18 at 12:01 a.m., the Gardiner Expressway eastbound on-ramp at Jarvis Street will be fully closed for replacement and will reopen once the project is completed in 2021. This construction is the second to last phase of work to rehabilitate the expressway between Jarvis and Cherry Streets and will use an innovated construction technique, accelerated bridge construction, to remove sections of the ramp and replace it with custom built pre-fabricated sections. 

During this construction, drivers should consider using alternate routes such as the eastbound Bay Street on-ramp, Lakeshore Boulevard East or the Don Roadway to the Don Valley Parkway.  

Later this summer, crews will move to the final phase of construction, which will replace the south half of the expressway deck. 

Bathurst Street from Front Street West to Fort York Boulevard, bridge and TTC track rehabilitation 
From May 25 to the end of December 2020, Bathurst Street from Fort York Boulevard to Front Street West will be fully closed to vehicular and cycling traffic as crews work to rehabilitate the Bathurst Street bridge and replace the TTC streetcar tracks.  

During this time, only one sidewalk will be available for pedestrian access through the work zone and cyclists may dismount to also use the sidewalk. 

To minimize disruption and avoid returning to the area in consecutive years, this construction has been bundled together with two other projects on Bathurst Street. Crews will replace a 144-year-old watermain on Bathurst Street from Front Street West to Queen Street West from June to December as well as replace the TTC streetcar tracks between Wolseley Street and Dundas Street West from September to October 2020.  

Church Street at Richmond Street East, watermain TTC track replacement 
Earlier this week, crews began preparatory work at Church Street and Richmond Street East to replace a 143-year-old watermain before beginning work to replace the TTC streetcar tracks. The entire project is anticipated to be completed by the end of June. 

This first phase of work will replace the watermain in the intersection of Church Street and Richmond Street East and the intersection will be reduced to two lanes of traffic and the bike lane will be closed. Cyclists are advised to merge with traffic on Richmond Street East to proceed through the intersection. 

The second phase of work will replace the TTC track and will require the full closure of the Church Street and Richmond Street East intersection from early June until the project is completed at the end of June. During the closure, westbound traffic on Richmond Street East is advised to divert at Sherbourne Street and use Queen Street East or King Street East to travel westbound through Church Street. 

While traffic volumes are lower, these projects will be accelerated by crews working extended hours, the City alleviating restrictions on roads and intersections during peak and off-peak hours, and working with contractors on other potential ways to accelerate work and complete these projects within a fast-tracked schedule. 

During construction, the public are advised to plan their travel in advance, consider alternate routes, obey signage around work zones and be patient while traveling in and around work zones throughout the city. 

Further details about the Gardiner Expressway Strategic Rehabilitation and the work to replace the eastbound Jarvis Street on-ramp is available at

More information about the downtown Bathurst Street projects and the construction at Church Street and Richmond Street East will be available at

Individuals are encouraged to use the City’s web-based map,, to help plan travel and avoid road closures. 

Information about the City’s planned capital construction work is available at

City of Toronto launches ShopHERE to help local businesses and artists open free online stores

On May 11, 2020, Mayor John Tory announced the launch of ShopHERE, a program to help Toronto independent businesses and artists open a free online store to minimize the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

ShopHERE will provide Toronto independent businesses and artists the opportunity to develop an online store, which will be built and launched for free in just a matter of days. Hands-on support will be provided throughout the entire process from volunteer website developers and marketing and business students.  

ShopHERE is supported by a number of community and corporate partners, including Toronto Association of Business Improvement Areas, Shopify, Google, Mastercard, Microsoft, Facebook, eBay, Ritual, Trufan, eShipper, Snapchat, Magnet and Schulich School of Business – York University. 

The program will provide Toronto’s independent businesses and artists with: 
• A template to develop an online store on Shopify, customized with their information, branding, logo, etc. 
• Hands-on assistance setting up and launching their online store 
• Training and support for digital marketing, shipping and operating an online store 
• Access to free tools and online advertising credits to support the launch of their online store. 

An estimated 49,501 Toronto business, 7,371 of them restaurants, bars or cafes, are eligible for the ShopHERE program.  

The initial program is available now through the end of August and the City’s goal is to develop 3,000 online stores for Toronto independent businesses and artists. 

The ShopHERE program will be delivered via the Digital Main Street platform. Toronto independent businesses and artists can sign up for their free online store at

The ShopHere program is a part of the Mayor’s Economic Support and Recovery Task Force’s short-term economic support and recovery plan for Toronto’s businesses. 

The City’s website is updated daily with the latest health advice and information about City services and social supports. Check for answers to common questions before contacting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 Hotline or 311.