COVID-19 Business Resources

The City of Nanaimo continues to actively monitor the latest developments on COVID-19 and following the recommendations of the Government of Canada, the BC Medical Health Officer, and the BC Centre for Disease Control (BCCDC) to keep our residents informed and safe.

Alongside this health crisis, our businesses and employees are feeling the economic impact of this unprecedented global pandemic. The following resources are compiled to help our businesses stay informed and learn about the various provincial and federal programs available to assist them during this challenging time.

Launch Online Grant Program

Small and medium-sized businesses are vital to British Columbia's economy. As part of StrongerBC, BC's Economic Recovery Plan, the Launch Online Grant program will invest up to $12million to help small- and medium size businesses throughout BC move their business model online. For more information:

FREE Consulting Program for BC-based businesses, non-profits, Social Enterprises and Charities

FREE until March 31, 2021 

The Consulting Hive

In response to the many immediate and ongoing challenges faced by businesses adjusting to this pandemic environment, a network of consultants, advisors, and specialists has been created to provide timely advice and facilitate connections. Our team recognizes that the various government financial and assistance programs are often not enough to truly empower business owners and managers to respond, adapt, and forge ahead sustainably.  The Consulting Hive is a way to harness the knowledge of experts across the Province to offer a centralized, holistic resource for the everyday, long-term and emergency needs of small and medium-size BC businesses.  We provide guidance in three primary areas: 

  • COVID-19 Support – government programs, regulations, pivot opportunities 
  • Business Advising – entrepreneurship, planning, expanding markets 
  • Transition and Closure – valuation, listing, negotiation 

Our goal is to provide the right support at the right time to ensure the best chance of success. This sometimes means a short session or two to overcome immediate hurdles, or ongoing longer-term advice and support, including referrals to other existing networks and programs such as:  

  • Venture Connect 
  • Export Navigator 
  • Innovation Island 
  • Tourism Resiliency Network 

The Consulting Hive is here to answer all inquiries until March 31, 2021, and our services are free of charge. Referrals are easy – simply direct prospective clients to our website,, for more information and to be matched up with a business advisor. 

THE DIGITAL ECONOMY RESTART, RECOVER, REIMAGINE PROGRAM (DER3) - “Helping small/medium businesses enter or expand into the Digital Economy”  

Delivered by Innovation Island, the Digital Economy Restart, Recover, Reimagine Program (DER3) is a no cost, no obligation program and is currently open to any/all individuals or businesses living or working on Vancouver Island (North of the Malahat), on the Sunshine Coast, or Gulf Islands. DER3 offers one-to-one business and technical consultations for businesses that are considering entering or expanding their online presence, or putting technology-based tools in place to better serve their needs. When required, the program will also match businesses with regional service providers who can deliver contracted solutions. The DER3 team works collaboratively with you to create an action plan to take your business to the next level by harnessing the power of technology.

The BC Tourism Resiliency Network - resources for Tourism businesses

Delivered by Tourism Vancouver Island, The BC Tourism Resiliency Network is a long-term resiliency program providing BC tourism businesses with meaningful, one-on-one support to navigate the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, adapt and work towards eventual recovery. For more information or to register click Tourism Resiliency Network

COVID-19: June 10, 2020 - Update

New small capital funding stream to support innovative solutions

A quick response small capital grant of up to $15,000 is now available through the Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) for time-sensitive initiatives that support immediate, short-term COVID-related business and industry restart, resilience and sustainability.

Applicants eligible for funding include local governments, Indigenous communities, non-profit organizations, including industry associations, Chambers of Commerce or other non-profit business or economic development related organizations. Projects must demonstrate broad public benefits beyond any one business or organization. Details about the program, including how to apply, can be found here.

COVID-19: May 15, 2020 - Update

PM says wage subsidy being extended to end of August

BCAP expanded to help mid-sized companies with larger financing needs

Ottawa earmarks $469M for fish harvesters amid coronavirus pandemic

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) now accepting applications

SBBC article: How to Earn the Trust of Customers as you Reopen Your Business

Digital Main Street: A free digital "how to" guide to help you grow your business.


Buy BC Partnership Program E-commerce Funding Stream

This new stream of funding is now available under the Buy BC Partnership Program to help farmers and food processors adopt e-commerce tools that enhance direct-to-consumer sales.

Read More

BCEDA Releases Business Operational Plan Template

This basic template will help you to get started developing an operational plan for your BC business/service. The purpose of this template is for your business/service to develop a plan to address public health measures during the COVID-19 recovery in British Columbia. The template provides you with questions, fillable tables and lists for consideration, implementation guidance and planning to help address the following five guiding principles issued by the Government of British Columbia:

• Personal hygiene
• Stay home if you are sick
• Environment hygiene
• Safe social interactions
• Physical modifications

The template is for general guidance only to assist you in the development of a more comprehensive plan. This is not a mandated plan template but is provided as a tool to help you meet requirements. Details and additional resources for your specific industry should be referred to prior to completing this template. Information can be found on the WorkSafeBC website.

 Download Now

COVID-19: May 8, 2020 - Update

Pandemic guidance for higher-risk and essential occupations and industries

Use these free tip sheets as guidance while operating during a pandemic, including the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Each document offers health and safety tips and good practices, for both employers and workers, specific to each industry or sector. Organizations and businesses can adopt this guidance to protect their workers and prevent the spread of infections. The tip sheets cover a range of occupations and industries including:

  • retail
  • construction
  • food processing
  • restaurant & food services
  • manufacturing
  • home delivery & courier
  • agriculture
  • daycares
  • transportation
  • work camps
  • mining
  • airline & ground crews

Note that the guidance provided in these tip sheets cover just some of the adjustments organizations can make during a pandemic. To meet your organization’s specific needs, add your own good practices and policies to these recommendations. Tip Sheets

Feds extend wage subsidy program beyond June

OTTAWA (NEWS 1130) – Businesses will be able to benefit from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy program for a little while longer. The program is being extended beyond June to continue to support employers and workers who are struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Friday. More details, including when the program will be extended until, are set to be released in the coming days. Read More

Destination BC launches new Road to Recovery webinar series for Tourism Businesses

All sessions will be held at 2:00 p.m. on the dates noted below.  Businesses can register for the following free sessions:

May 12: Business After Re-opening: A Look at the Post-closure Traveller
May 14: Essential Strategies to Innovate your Visitor Experience and Offerings
May 19: Planning for Doors Open
May 21: Managing Expectations and Reputation through Effective Communication
May 26: Social Media Best Practices After Re-opening 
May 28: Building a Digital Marketing Strategy for Re-opening

 Read More and Register

COVID-19: May 7, 2020 - Update

Premier outlines plan to restart B.C. safely

British Columbians will move forward with safely restarting their province beginning in mid-May, according to a plan announced by Premier John Horgan. Under B.C.'s Restart Plan, government will work closely with public health officials, businesses and labour organizations to lift restrictions in phases, gradually allowing for more social and economic activity, while closely monitoring health information to minimize the risk to the public.

B.C. is currently in Phase 1 of the restart plan. Phase 2, which will begin in mid-May, includes:

  • small social gatherings;
  • a resumption of elective surgeries and regulated health services like physiotherapy, dentistry, chiropractors and in-person counselling;
  • provincial parks open for day use;
  • opening more non-essential businesses in keeping with safe operations plans;
  • recalling the provincial legislature for regular sittings.

Sectors that were ordered closed will be asked to work with WorkSafeBC to develop plans to reopen safely. WorkSafeBC is developing industry-specific guidance to help employers bring workers and customers back safely. Any business restarting operations must ensure it is in compliance with the provincial health officer's orders and in accordance with occupational health and safety guidance provided by WorkSafeBC.

The target date for the start of Phase 3, which will include opening up of additional businesses and services, is between June and September 2020, if transmission rates remain low or in decline.

Phase 4 will only be achieved when the threat of COVID-19 has been significantly diminished through widespread vaccination, broad successful treatments, evidence of community immunity, or the equivalent.

For a WorkSafeBC backgrounder, visit:

For backgrounders on schools and parks, visit:

Read BC's Restart Plan

COVID-19: May 6, 2020 - Update

Vancouver Island Coastal Tourism Resiliency Network

Canadian Hospitality Worker Relief Fund (website experiencing high traffic)

BCCDC: COVID Modelling & Projections

COVID-19: May 1, 2020 - Update

B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers application now open

Government takes action to help forest sector keep doors open

Stumpage, the fee operators pay the Province to harvest, buy or sell trees from Crown land, is being deferred for three months. The deferral with interest is available to Tree Farm Licence, Replaceable Forest Licence and First Nations' Woodlands Licence holders who are in good financial standing with the Province. They also must be following through on their reforesting obligations. The deferral will leave eligible companies with an estimated $80 million so they can pay employees, pay contractors and pay other bills needed to keep their doors open or reopen them faster.

COVID-19: London Drugs to sell products of local small businesses impacted by COVID-19

London Drugs is offering up shelf space in select stores to local small businesses who have had to close their doors due to COVID-19. As of April 28, 2020, small businesses in Western Canada are welcome to submit products for consideration. London Drugs is an essential service and is leveraging its unique position to help out local small businesses during a time when they need all the support they can get to help them weather these challenging times. Small business owners can visit London Drugs' application page to learn if their products qualify and apply to be part of London Drugs Local Central. Some rules and restrictions apply.

COVID-19: April 24, 2020 - Updates

Rent relief of 75% for small businesses affected by coronavirus

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau is announcing significant rent relief for businesses that can't afford to pay their landlords at a time when their operations are shut down due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The federal help, expected to lower rent by 75 per cent for affected small businesses, will be provided in partnership with the provinces and territories, which have jurisdiction over rents.

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses will provide forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners to cover 50 per cent of three monthly rent payments payable by eligible small business tenants experiencing financial hardship during April, May and June. The loans will be forgiven if the mortgaged property owner agrees to reduce the eligible small business tenants' rent by at least 75 per cent for the three corresponding months under a rent forgiveness agreement, which will include a pledge not to evict the tenant while the agreement is in place. The small business tenant would cover the remainder, up to 25 per cent of the rent. Affected small business tenants are those paying less than $50,000 per month in rent and who have temporarily ceased operations, or have experienced at least a 70-per-cent drop in pre-COVID-19 revenues. It is expected the new program will be operational by mid-May, with commercial property owners lowering the rents of their small business tenant's payable for the months of April and May, retroactively, and for June.

BC Emergency Benefit for Workers

The B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers will provide a tax-free, one time $1,000 payment for B.C. residents whose ability to work has been affected due to COVID-19. You can apply online starting May 1, 2020.

Note: If you haven't applied for the Canada Emergency Response Benefit yet, you must apply for it now as this is one of the eligibility requirements for the B.C. Emergency Benefit for Workers. Read More

Supply Products and Services to Support B.C.'s COVID-19 Response

Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of B.C.'s COVID-19 response? As worldwide demand increases, the B.C. Government is looking for both medical and non-medical products and services to help with the response. If you can donate or supply products from the following list you are invited to submit an offer. Priority Products Needed: Coveralls, Disinfectant, Gloves, Gowns, Hoods, Masks, Respirator-related, Sample collection, Shoe covers.

View Canadian criteria for priority medical supplies

Submit an offer via the BC Supply Hub

COVID-19: April 17, 2020 - Update

Trudeau unveils rental assistance for small businesses, loosens loan qualifications

The federal government says it will be expanding the emergency loan program to allow for more businesses to be eligible, while also rolling out a new program to assist with rent and lease costs. On Thursday (April 16), Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced businesses that spent between $20,000 to $1.5 million on payroll in 2019 will be eligible to receive a loan through the Canada Emergency Business Account. Eligible businesses can obtain a $40,000 interest free loan with $10,000 in forgiveness.

Trudeau also announced a new Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance program, which will help small businesses pay their rent for April, May and June. More details will be on the way after the federal government convenes with individual provincial leaders.

Also an expansion to the Canada Emergency Response Benefit was announced to include workers who have seen their hours cut due to COVID-19, instead of just those who have lost their jobs all together. More info

COVID-19: April 16, 2020 - Update

COVID-19 Support service launched for BC Businesses

A new B.C. Business COVID-19 Support Service will serve as a single point of contact for businesses throughout the province looking for information on resources available during the COVID-19 pandemic. As of Thursday, April 16, 2020, advisors are available Monday to Friday, from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. (Pacific time) and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 1 833 254-4357. Inquiries can also be emailed to, or raised on the live-chat feature available on SBBC's dedicated website: Support is available in multiple languages and a call-back feature is in place to help manage high call volumes.

The Digital Economy Response Program-Innovation Island Technology Association

In partnership with Island Coastal Economic Trust (ICET) Innovation Island Technology Association (IITA) has launching The Digital Economy Response Program that will start to tackle the economic impact of the COVID-19 crisis. As the region's technology accelerator, with support from Innovate BC, Innovation Island has been asked to help with the mounting challenges facing small-medium sized businesses to restart the local economy. This rapid recovery initiative will provide one-to-one business & technical expertise and actionable resources to companies that need to consider changes to their business models and/or best-practices on how to better engage with entering or expanding in the digital economy. With decades of experience in the tech sector, and a deep understanding of digital ecosystems, this is your call to action! Register here.

COVID-19: April 8, 2020 - Update

Vancouver Island Coastal Tourism Resiliency Program-Partnership with Tourism Vancouver Island

Webinar on the new program is this Thursday April 9th at 9am. Register here. The first phase of support will focus on the economic and operational challenges that businesses are facing at this time. Beginning early April, operators will be able to schedule calls with experts in human resources, finance, and business transition. The team will support you in navigating the relief and recovery measures, and associated applications as they become available.This program is funded in partnership with Island Coastal Economic Trust.

COVID-19: April 6, 2020 - Update

COVID-19: April 3, 2020 - Updates

If you are a manufacturer or business that can assist Canada in meeting the need for medical supplies, your help is needed. If you can say yest to the following, the Government of Canada wants to hear from you:

  • You manufacture in Canada and/or have ready access to necessary inputs through your supply chain.
  • You have equipment or facilities that can be rapidly re-tooled to meet medical needs, including for personal protective equipment (PPE) such as gloves, masks and surgical gowns; sanitizers; wipes; ventilators; and other medical equipment and supplies.
  • You have skilled workers who are able to respond and who could be available for work in the current circumstances.

Please send a short summary of your offer to:

Support your Favourite Small Business

Information about Supports for Businesses and Workers
Government of Canada Economic Development Response Plan: The Government of Canada is taking immediate, significant and decisive action to help Canadians facing hardship as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.

Support to Businesses:

Avoiding Layoffs:

Access to Credit:

Support for Farmers:

Supporting Financial Stability:

More Flexibility:

Support for Individuals

Support for Individuals and Families:

Support for People Facing Unemployment

Support for People who are Sick, Quarantined, or in Directed Self-Isolation

Support for People who are Unable to Work

Support for People who Need it Most

Support for Seniors:

Support for Students and Recent Graduates:

Trade Commissioner Service: Resources for Canada Businesses

  1. Support for Employees
  2. Support for Businesses
  3. Business Travel and Events
  4. Business in International Markets

Government of British Columbia Action Plan

COVID-19 Action Plan: BC's First Steps to Support People, Businesses

General Business Resources

Resources for Small Businesses Affected by COVID-19 (SBBC)

COVID-19 Resources for BC Businesses - Comprehensive Live Document (BCEDA)

Join Small Business BC's Digital Meetups (SBBC)

Financial Resources

BDC - Support for Entrepreneurs Impacted by the Coronavirus/COVID-19

Small Business BC: Summary of Financing Options for Businesses Impacted by COVID-19

Business Preparedness and Contingency Plans

Continuity Checklist for Small Businesses

Business Prep Guide Plan - Canadian Chamber of Commerce

Sector Specific Information and Resources:



Retailers and Restaurants


Real Estate


Manufacturers and Exporters



Creative Industries


Information for Employers

Information for Employees

Additional Resources

Last updated: February 17, 2021

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