Provincial Economic Relief Programs and Updates


Easing of Public Health Resttrictions for Businesses and Organizations

Premier Stephen McNeil and Dr. Robert Strang, Nova Scotia’s chief medical officer of health, announced on February 5, easing of public health restrictions effective Monday, February 8, to allow events and other gatherings.

Effective 12:00 am on February 8 until 11:59 pm March 7:

  • retail businesses can operate at 75 per cent capacity
  • fitness facilities can operate at 75 per cent capacity and must maintain three metres between people during high-intensity activities both indoors and outdoors
  • recognized businesses and organizations can resume hosting events with 150 people outdoors, or 50 per cent of a venue’s capacity to a maximum of 100 indoors 
  • these events must stop any food or alcohol service by 10:00 pm and end by 11:00 pm
  • these events include social events, arts and culture events, sport and recreation events, special events, festivals, faith gatherings, weddings with receptions, and funerals with visitation and receptions
  • these events include bingo, darts, and other similar activities hosted by licensed and unlicensed establishments
  • these gathering limits also apply to meetings and training hosted by private businesses or organizations, provincial and municipal government, first-responder organizations, mental health and addictions support groups, and organized clubs
  • organized clubs can host activities for all ages and follow the day camp guidelines to have cohorts of up to 15 within the larger indoor or outdoor gathering limit
  • spectators are allowed at events, including sports games and practices and arts and culture rehearsals and performances, except when they are held at schools
  • large facilities that already have approved plans can resume hosting events with multiple groups of 100 that are kept separate with their own entrances and exits and their own washrooms
  • Centre 200 in Sydney and Scotiabank Centre in Halifax can have multiple groups of 150

The general gathering limit remains 10 – this applies to household and informal gatherings and events that are not hosted by a recognized business or organization.

There is no change to hours for restaurants and licensed establishments. They must stop service at 10:00 pm and close at 11:00 pm. There will be no exceptions to close later when there are special sports events, such as Super Bowl. These hours also apply to all types of gatherings hosted by recognized businesses and organizations as appropriate.

Sports teams and individual competitors are still restricted to playing and competing with other teams and people with whom they routinely play or compete.

For full list of restricitions form the Nova Scotia Health Authority, click here.

Small Business Reopening and Support Grant

Eligible Businesses, non-profits, charities, social enterprises will be able to access the new Small Business Reopening and Support Grant, a $25 million fund that will provide $5,000 grants to help them open safely and $1,500 business continuity voucher for advice and support to become more resilient in the coming months. If you previously applied for the Small Business Impact Grant, you do not need to reapply. This program will be for businesses ordered closed and will also be for small retailers and others who were not ordered to close. More information is available online and applications will begin June 1.

Nova Scotians can find accurate, up-to-date information, hand-washing posters, and fact sheets here. Businesses and other organizations can find information to help them safely reopen here.


The Premier of Nova Scotia announced the new measures below (view the official release) on April 2, 2020:

  • A $20 million Worker Emergency Bridge Fund to help the self-employed and those laid-off workers who do not qualify for Employment Insurance. Government will provide a one-time, $1,000 payment, to bridge the gap between layoffs and closures and the federal government’s Canada Emergency Response Benefit
  • $20 million to fund a new program – the Small Business Impact Grant. Eligible small businesses and social enterprises will receive a grant of 15 per cent of their gross revenues – either from April 2019 or February 2020, up to a maximum of $5,000. This flexible, one-time, upfront grant can be used for any purpose necessary 

The announcements, totalling $40 million, will come out of a new $50 million fund that will be administered by Dalhousie University in Halifax. Eligibility for the programs is not affected by a person or business being enrolled in another provincial program or the federal initiatives.


Tourism Accommodations Real Property Tax Rebate Program

The Tourism Accommodations Real Property Tax Rebate Program is a 25% rebate that helps owners of hotels, motels and inns with their 2020-2021 commercial property tax. Eligible operators must have paid their commercial property tax bill in full to receive the rebate. The program opens 16 November 2020. Find more information here.

Digital Adoption Program

The Digital Adoption Program supports Nova Scotia businesses to rapidly adopt digital tools and innovations to manage through impacts related to COVID-19. The Program provides financial incentives to Nova Scotia small businesses to:

  • Build or improve their online presence to retain and create new sales opportunities and improve firm resilience and flexibility to keep pace with the changing nature of business; and
  • Adopt digital tools and implement process improvements related to e-commerce solutions and to support remote working.

The Program contributes up to 50% of eligible costs to a maximum of $10,000 CAD. Minimum project cost is $2,000 CAD. 


Applicants must meet the following criteria: 

  • be a Nova Scotia registered business in good standing (current registration on the Registry of Joint Stock Companies; federally registered businesses with a head office registered in Nova Scotia may be eligible) with less than 100 FTEs in Nova Scotia 
  • have a permanent establishment in Nova Scotia 
  • the majority of its workforce currently residing in Nova Scotia 
  • monthly revenue for April 2020 must be 30% lower than monthly revenue for April 2019  
  • have a product/service with the potential to be sold outside of Nova Scotia 

Important Dates 

Applications for the Digital Adoption Program are accepted between June 15, 2020 and August 15, 2020. Applications must be received no later than 5:00pm (Atlantic Standard Time) on August 15, 2020. All projects must be completed, and claims submitted before October 31, 2020

Regional Relief Recovery Fund

The federal government announced $110 million through the Regional Relief Recovery Fund to support Atlantic Canadian businesses and communities affected by COVID-19. To be eligible, businesses and organizations must not have accessed funds or COVID-19 relief measures and continue to experience hardship. In the urban core, funding will be managed through CEED. The application is available here.

Funding includes $66.7 million through ACOA to support small and medium-sized businesses that provide products and services to other businesses and organizations and $43.3 million through the Atlantic Association of CBDCs to support main street businesses, such as restaurants and retailers in small rural and remote communities. Eligible businesses are in sectors that are critical to the resilience and survival of Atlantic Canada’s economy, such as advanced manufacturing, ocean industries, clean growth technology and tourism.

Small Business Development Program

Applications for NSBI's Business Development Program (formerly SBDP) are now being accepted. The program matches businesses and a private consultant to overcome a pain point or barrier or a business expert to help identify and develop the leadership skills needed to scale your company. Visit to learn more.

Virtual Training

NSBI is providing virtual workshops and training courses to support SME's access programming at times that work for them – all the more important during the current climate. The featured sessions, including Planning for Now: Improvise, Adapt & Overcome and How to Mitigate Financial Risk During Crisis, provide companies with vital strategies and hands-on tips on how to deal with the current crisis. Information can be found here.

Funding Search Tool updated for COVID-19

Through Nova Scotia Business Inc.'s website, the Funding Search Tool now enables businesses to keyword search any funding tools locally and across the country specific to the current COVID challenges to business – just use the keyword COVID-19. 

Business Support from Saint Mary’s University Entrepreneurship Centre

In response to COVID-19, Saint Mary's University Entrepreneurship Centre is offering free virtual one-on-one strategy sessions to Atlantic Canadian entrepreneurs. The sessions aim to provide support, insight, and additional resources to help entrepreneurs overcome current challenges. More information can be found here.

Nova Scotia Tender Notices

Are you a business that can supply products and service in support of Nova Scotia's response to COVID-19? If so, the Nova Scotia Department of Business wants to hear from you. They are also interested in hearing from innovative businesses or organizations that have a solution for:

  • virtual mental health services for vulnerable people or those living in remote communities 
  • supply chain resiliency monitoring
  • financial planning and advising for small businesses that can be delivered online at low-cost, including advice on how to apply for relief programs
  • other ideas or products that could help Nova Scotians

procurement portal has been developed and includes a list of products and services we're looking for.

Employer Assessment Tool Update

An assessment online tool has been posted to the provincial Coronavirus website to quickly help employers determine if they may remain open, in compliance with current workplace safety requirements. You can find the assessment tool here.

COVID-19 Rent Deferral Guarantee Program Application Deadline Extension

The deadline for landlords already registered for the provincial COVID-19 Rent Deferral Guarantee Program to submit their application has been extended. In order to be included in the provincial guarantee, landlords must send their full applications to the Department of Business by June 26 to

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance Program

The application portal for the federal/provincial rent deferral program will open on Monday, May 25. Landlords who register for the program can receive a forgivable loan to cover half of the rent in April, May, and June if they lower the rent by 75 per cent over that period. Application documents are now available on the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation’s here.

Provincial Supports for Small Businesses

The provincial government has announced several initiatives to address cash flow and access to credit for small- and medium-sized businesses in Nova Scotia:

  • Payment deferrals until June 30 on all government loans, including those under the Farm Loan Board, Fisheries and Aquaculture Loan Board, Jobs Fund, Nova Scotia Business Fund, Municipal Finance Corp. and Housing Nova Scotia. 
  • Fees, including business renewal fees and workers compensation premiums, will be deferred. A list of applicable fees will be posted.
  • Changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program, administered through provincial Credit Unions include deferring principal and interest payments until June 30.
  • Other changes to the Small Business Loan Guarantee Program include enhancing the program to make it easier for businesses to access credit up to $500,000. For new loans, the first $100,000 will be fully guaranteed by the province.

The Workers’ Compensation Board

The Workers’ Compensation Board has a number of materials available online to help employers communicate work safety during the COVID pandemic. 

Canadian Centre for Occupation Health and Safety

As we continue to think about reopening our economy and what that may look like for each individual sector, the Canadian Centre for Occupational Health and Safety have developed pandemic tip sheets to help employers protect their workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19. The tip sheets are now available.