Guide to government support programs for Montreal startups

Are you running a startup in Montreal or elsewhere in Quebec, and unsure about how what all three levels of government are offering? In the following piece we’ll go over different types of support programs and funding that the governments of Canada, Quebec and Montreal are offering.


Government of Canada

The Government of Canada is offering numerous programs for business across the country, on top of the Canada Emergency Response Benefit for those who are out of work due to Covid-19. Other programs the Federal government has set up for business include:

  • The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy covers 75% of a company’s payroll, and was designed to help minimize the number of layoffs companies are forced to make during this crisis period. Eligibility is determined by the change in an eligible employer’s monthly revenues, year-over-year, for the calendar month in which the period began. Applications for the wage subsidy will open on April 27. The subsidy amount for a given employee on eligible remuneration paid for the period between March 15 and June 6, 2020 is the greater of:
    1-    75% of the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week; and
    2-    the amount of remuneration paid, up to a maximum benefit of $847 per week or 75% of the employee’s pre-crisis weekly remuneration, whichever is less.

Individuals, corporations and partnerships are eligible. More details are available here.

Friday, Ottawa also announced a package of support for startups worth approximately $1.2 billion which includes specifically;

  • $250 million in new funding for IRAP (Industrial Research Assistance Program). Full details on this NRC program are found here.  The program will be accepting applications until April 29, 2020 at 11:59 pm EDT
  • The Prime Minister also announced Friday that $962 million of new funding will be deployed to Regional Development Agencies. In Quebec this is Canada Economic Development for Quebec regions (CED) 1-800-561-0633 and
  • Existing CED clients will be able to defer payments for up to 3 months. Those who are not yet clients may be eligible for their “help with advice and pathfinding services to other federal programs and services available.”
  • NRC has also launched The Pandemic Response Challenge Program which is currently structured around 3 main research areas: Rapid detection and diagnosis / Therapeutics and vaccine development / Digital health.

Of course as an arm’s length crown corporation, BDC has also launched a number of initiatives for small and medium sized businesses through its Business Credit Availability Program, which include working capital loans with flexible repayment terms and:

  • Canada Emergency Business Account – For small businesses and not-for profits with a 2019 payroll between $20,000 and $1.5 million, these are loans of up to $40,000 with 0% interest until December 31, 2022. If the loan is paid off by the due date, 25% of the amount will be forgiven. (Managed through your primary financial institution, contact them to apply)
  • BDC Co-Lending Program for SMEs – Up to $6.25 million available for operational cash flow requirements, with differing maximum finance amounts based on business revenues. 80/20 split in financing between BDC and your financial institution. Learn more from your bank.
  • EDC Guarantee for SMEs – Up to $6.25 million for payroll and operational costs, 80% guaranteed by EDC, to be repaid within one year.

Some tech blogs have recently reported that BDC may also be looking at matching investments for angel-backed startups. However, we must emphasize that there is no such program yet.

The Prime Minister has said that a business rent subsidy, the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) program was announced April 24. Ottawa will subsidize 75% of the rent for small businesses for the months of April, May and June, and ask landlords to cover the balance out of pocket. For an exhaustive list of Federal programs, please consult this page.


Government of Quebec

The Government of Quebec also has launched a number of initiatives in support of small and medium sized business in the province. One of which is Le Panier Bleu, a program that helps people and companies find and source products and services made here in Quebec. More than 8,000 businesses have already signed up.  Other initiatives from Quebec include:

A complete list of Quebec government programs can be found here.


City of Montreal

The City of Montreal has also set up some programs to help support businesses in the city. They are allowing for a number of payments to be delayed or deferred.

There’s also support to help businesses adopt e-commerce so that they might continue to sell their goods or services.

A complete list of the city’s programs for supporting businesses through the Covid-19 pandemic is available here.

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