Supporting rural Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic

As COVID-19 continues to have an unprecedented impact, the Government of Canada is taking strong action to help all Canadians, including rural Canadians, no matter where they live. As this situation evolves, so will our government's response. To stay up to date, please bookmark the COVID-19 Economic Response Plan.

A wide range of new measures are designed to help individuals, families, businesses and industries in rural communities get through this pandemic.

Bringing broadband to all communities

The current situation has only reinforced the importance of access to high-speed Internet as rural Canadians are working, learning and communicating from home. We know this is a very difficult time and that high-speed Internet access is essential. Work is ongoing to connect 98% of Canadians to high-speed Internet by 2026 and all Canadians by 2030.

Support for employees and employers

To support Canadians, including seasonal workers, who have lost their jobs as a result of COVID-19, the Government of Canada introduced the Canada Emergency Response Benefit to help you through this difficult time.

To help students and new graduates, the Government of Canada announced the Canada Emergency Student Benefit and the Canada Student Service Grant.

For more information about the actions the Government of Canada is taking to support Canadians, visit Support for individuals.

Support for businesses

To support the small businesses that are at the heart of rural economies, we have launched the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. Many of those same businesses also rely on the Canada Summer Jobs program, which is why we have announced temporary changes to make it more flexible. Additionally, the new Canada Emergency Business Account program has been expanded to provide small businesses, including those that are owner-operated and family-owned, access to interest-free loans to help cover operating costs.

The Government of Canada is also investing millions of dollars to strengthen rural Canada's tourism sector, including recently announced funding of $16 million for Atlantic Canada's tourism sector and $30 million for the Quebec tourism industry.

Canada's seven regional development agencies (RDA) are the front line for economic development in Canada and help to address key economic challenges by providing regionally tailored programs, services, knowledge and expertise.

If you are a tourism operator or small or medium-sized business or organization that has received RDA funding and COVID-19 is affecting your operations, you are encouraged to contact your local RDA office for guidance.

Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF)

The national Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF), delivered through the RDAs, is providing $962 million in additional support to Canadian businesses economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic that cannot access existing federal measures.

This includes $287 million to support the national network of Community Futures Development Corporations, which will specifically support rural businesses and communities impacted by the pandemic.

To provide targeted assistance to the small towns and communities they serve, Community Futures partners across Canada will focus on assisting small and medium-sized enterprises—including "main street" businesses such as retail shops, restaurants and corner stores—with loans of up to $40,000. This is in addition to additional funding being offered by RDAs through their existing programs.

Rural businesses are encouraged to visit their local RDA website for information on how to access this funding.

For more information about the actions the Government of Canada is taking to support businesses facing hardship as a result of the global COVID-19 pandemic,, visit Support for businesses.

Support for the food and agriculture industry

The agriculture and agri-food sector are crucial to rural communities. A strong food supply is especially critical at this time, and we are investing to make sure farmers have the support they need. This includes ensuring necessary temporary foreign workers are allowed to travel to Canada and providing funding to help employers cover the costs of ensuring strict health protocols upon their arrival.

Support for farmers

Additional lending capacity for Farm Credit Canada will support the agriculture and fishing industries, as will loan repayment extensions for farmers. Additionally $100 million is being used to strengthen food security for vulnerable Canadians , and $65 billion in direct lending is available through the new Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program.

Support for fish harvesters

The new Fish Harvester Benefit and Grant Program worth up to $267.6 million, will help provide income support for this year's fishing seasons to eligible self-employed fish harvesters and crews who cannot access the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. The Fish Harvester Grant, a program worth up to $201.8 million, will provide grants to help fish harvesters impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and who are ineligible for the Canada Emergency Business Account or equivalent measures.

Support for food producers

A new $77.5 million Emergency Processing Fund will help food producers, and National AgriRecovery initiatives of up to $125 million in funding will help food producers. Canada's first-ever Surplus Food Rescue Program will help redistribute existing and unsold inventories.

Support for food security

The $2.3 million Rural and Northern Capacity Fund is an initiative by Food Banks Canada that is being funded under the first round of the $200 million Emergency Food Security Fund. It will help address food insecurity in communities or regions that are currently underserved. Organizations in rural and northern areas can receive help under the initiative to develop or improve infrastructure that helps get food to vulnerable people. This includes supporting the purchase, transportation and distribution of food, hiring additional staff and undertaking small-scale construction projects. Food Banks Canada is now accepting applications for funding from community or charitable organizations, Indigenous groups and not-for-profit co-operatives.

For more information about the actions the Government of Canada is taking to support the agriculture, agri-food, aquaculture, and fisheries industry sectors, visit Support for sectors.

Support for Indigenous communities

The Government of Canada is supporting First Nations and Inuit communities in preparing for, monitoring and responding to COVID-19. Visit Coronavirus (COVID-19) and Indigenous communities for a full list of support measures.