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The Government of Canada invests $50 million towards helping businesses across the region adopt digital technologies to recover from the pandemic and emerge stronger.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a severe impact on businesses of all sizes across the country. In particular, retail-oriented main street businesses have suffered with stores closed and in-person commerce halted. From the outset, the Government of Canada has taken action to support sectors affected by the pandemic, including the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), launched on May 13.

The national $962-million fund, delivered through Canada’s regional development agencies, supports small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Canada that have been unable to get access to existing relief measures. In southern Ontario, FedDev Ontario is delivering $213 million to provide short-term financial relief and help businesses recover.

Support for main street businesses and SMEs

With Ontario’s economy reopening, the federal and provincial governments are working together to help small businesses go digital through a pan-Ontario project that will support businesses’ recovery and generate new revenue.

FedDev Ontario announced a $57-million investment to help main street businesses across the province adopt digital technologies to compete now and in the future.

Building on Toronto’s foundational investments in Digital Main Street and, most recently, ShopHERE, this investment of $50 million from the Government of Canada (through FedDev Ontario) and $7.65 million from the Government of Ontario will extend the support to businesses across the province. Support will be offered through two main platforms.

Digital Main Street platform

With $42.5-million from the Government of Canada (through FedDev Ontario) and $7.45 million from Ontario, the Ontario Business Improvement Area Association, the Toronto Association of Business Improvement AreasCommunitech and Invest Ottawa will support over 21,900 small businesses across Ontario, to pivot their operations to include digital business models, regain lost revenue and become more resilient and competitive as the economy recovers.

This investment will also create jobs for more than 1,400 co-op students. Over the summer and fall work terms, students will gain valuable work experience creating online storefronts.

Quick facts

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has caused many Canadian households to purchase goods online rather than in store. As such, retail e-commerce sales surged 16.3 percent in March.
  • The strategic partners involved in this project have a broad reach to tens of thousands of the region’s businesses. They offer a wealth of expertise ranging from business improvement, technology, innovation, marketing and economic development. Therefore they are best-suited to deliver this widespread support and make the greatest possible impact across the region.
  • Support through the Digital Main Street Platform will be offered in three tiers customized to the level of support required by each company to develop or strengthen their online presence. More information on the levels of support is available in the Backgrounder.