Business COVID-19 Updates

Support for micro, small & medium businesses including the non-profit and charitable sector (SMEs)

Alterna is committed to supporting micro, small, medium sized businesses including the non-profit and charitable sector businesses (SMEs) through the COVID-19 pandemic. As the engine that drives the Canadian economy, the viability of these businesses is paramount to Canada’s economic success. We’re here to help.

Financing is available to SMEs through the Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA) program and the EDC Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Guarantee

Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA):

The CEBA program is available and delivered directly by Alterna. 

All applicants have until March 31, 2021, to apply for $60,000 CEBA loan or the $20,000 expansion.

CEBA requirements and deadlines have changed:

  • As of December 4, 2020, CEBA loans for eligible businesses will increase from $40,000 to $60,000.
  • Applicants who have received the $40,000 CEBA loan may apply for the $20,000 expansion, which provides eligible businesses with an additional $20,000 in financing.
  • All applicants have until March 31, 2021, to apply for $60,000 CEBA loan or the $20,000 expansion.

If you have already applied for a CEBA loan and have questions, please contact the new CEBA Call Centre at 1-888-324-4201 for a status of your application. An agent will return your call within 3 business days between Monday and Friday from 10:00 am to 9:00 pm EST.

Program Overview:

  • This $55 billion program provides interest-free loans of up to $60,000 to small businesses and not-for-profits.
  • Repaying the balance of the loan on or before December 31, 2022 will result in loan forgiveness of 33 percent (up to a maximum of $20,000).
  • As of October 26, 2020, eligibility for CEBA expanded by removing the previous March 1, 2020 condition for having an active business chequing/operating account. With this removal, eligible businesses can now apply after opening a business chequing/operating account with their primary financial institution.
  • As of December 4, 2020 approved CEBA applicants can now receive a $60,000 loan. CEBA applicants who have received the $40,000 CEBA loan may apply the CEBA expansion, which provides eligible businesses with an additional $20,000 of financing.
  • Interest rate at 0% until December 31, 2022.
  • No minimum monthly principal payments until December 31, 2022.
  • If the loan cannot be repaid by December 31, 2022, it can be converted into a 3-year term loan at an interest rate of 5% per annum. 
For additional information, visit the Government of Canada website.

Ready to start the process?

1.   Log in to online banking
2.   Select 'Canadian Emergency Business Account (CEBA)' under Account Services
3.   Complete and submit the form

Not signed up for online banking? Contact 1.877.560.0100 and we can get you started.

EDC Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Guarantee*:

As part of the federal government’s new $65 billion Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP), Alterna Savings and Export Development Canada (EDC) are partnering to provide financing to SMEs impacted by COVID-19.

  • The EDC BCAP Guarantee provides businesses with up to $6.25 million in credit to cover operational costs like payroll and rent.
  • Proceeds from the BCAP-supported loan cannot be used to repay or refinance existing debt (further restrictions apply to other non-operational costs).
  • Export sales are not required to qualify for the program.
  • EDC fees related to this guarantee will be deferred for the first six months, giving some short-term relief to your business.
  • EDC will provide a guarantee to Alterna Savings on 80% of the value of your loan. By sharing risk with EDC, we can help your company access the financing it needs.
  • The loan guarantee is to Alterna, not your business, so you remain responsible for the full value of the loan.

For more details on the program, eligibility and application process, business members can contact their Alterna Account Manager.

EDC Frequently Asked Questions:

What is the EDC Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Guarantee? Expand/Collapse

The EDC Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) Guarantee is an EDC-guaranteed business loan to help Canadian businesses impacted by COVID-19. Eligible applicants can access up to $6.25 million CAD in short-term liquidity to cover expenses which are critical to business continuity such as rent, payroll and other operational costs.

The EDC Program features:

  • Fixed 80% EDC guarantee for 1 year, with potential to renew for another 5 year
  • EDC guarantee fee of 1.8% on the authorized loan amount
  • 6-month EDC Guarantee fee payment deferral, with no set up fee
  • Interest Only, with the option for to make principal payments at any time
  • Full repayment required at end of term

Is the EDC BCAP Guarantee only available to export-oriented businesses? Expand/Collapse

No. The EDC BCAP Guarantee will also be available to non-export, domestic businesses.

What is the eligibility criteria? Expand/Collapse

To qualify for an EDC BCAP, the member must:

  • Apply for a new cash flow term loan up to $6.25million CAD to finance short-term operations in response to COVID-19.
  • The business (or Entity must be a Canadian based commercial entity (with its principal activities in Canada) who’s business generates revenue from the sale of goods and services and its revenue is not economically dependent on non-commercial sources.
  • The Entity has been negatively impacted by the economic conditions created by Covid-19 and was financially viable prior to current economic environment
  • Your business was financially stable and viable prior to the current economic situation
  • The financing will be used solely to support operational cashflow requirements
  • Sole Proprietorships are not eligible for this program

The member must NOT be an:

  • Entity whose principal activities include the manufacturing, sale, distribution of arms, armaments, ammunition and/or related products.
  • Entity that promote violence, incite hatred or discriminate on the basis of race, national or ethnic origin, color, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability.
  • Entitity that operate any form of sexually exploitive business.
  • Entity operating rent-to-own firms, pay day loan or other similar quasi-financial institutions
  • For more details on the program, eligibility and application process, business members can contact their Alterna Account Manager.

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS)

The Government of Canada’s Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) provides eligible employers, who have seen a drop in revenue due to COVID-19, a subsidy to cover part of employee wages retroactive from March 15, 2020. Applications for claim period 10 (November 22, 2020, to December 19, 2020) are now open.

The Federal Government has launched an updated calculator to help employers estimate what help they may receive from the next phase of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy.

Changes to CEWS as of January 6, 2021:

Details for claim periods 11 to 13 (December 20, 2020, to March 13, 2021):

  • the maximum top-up subsidy rate is 35%
  • the maximum subsidy amount for employees on leave with pay is $595
  • the base revenue drop comparison months for period 11 will be the same as period 10

For detailed information about the program, eligibility, and how to apply, refer to the Government of Canada’s site.

Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS)

New Support for Commercial Tenants: Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS), replaces the CECRA Program and would provide direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support directly to qualifying organizations.

Qualifying businesses, charities and non-profits would receive a subsidy of up to 65% of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020.

Lockdown Support

Qualifying organizations that have been significantly affected by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority would receive an additional 25% of rent support through the CERS.

Combined with the other support received under the CERS, this means that hard hit businesses, non-profits, and charities could receive a rent subsidy of up to 90%.

The CERS including the Lockdown Support would be available retroactive to September 27, 2020, until June 2021.


Alterna’s Microfinance team is working with members to assist them in managing their businesses through these challenging times. Please contact your Account Manager for assistance. 


Please contact your Account Manager who is available to support you during these uncertain times.

If you don’t have a dedicated Account Manager, contact your branch or the Contact Centre to be referred.

The Contact Centre is available 7 days a week and can be reached at 1-877-560-0100

  • Monday – Friday: 8:00 am – 6:00 pm
  • Saturday & Sunday: 9:30 am – 4:00 pm

For further information on how to get in touch with us, please click here. 

*All Applicants are subject to Alterna Savings’ lending criteria.

New Ontario Small Business Support Grant to Provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 for Eligible Businesses!

Eligible small businesses include those that:

  • Are required to close or significantly restrict services due to the Provincewide Shutdown being imposed across the province effective 12:01 a.m. on December 26
  • Have fewer than 100 employees at the enterprise level
  • Have experienced a minimum of 20 per cent revenue decline in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

Further details, including how to apply for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant, will be announced in January 2021.

For further information, click here.