SUDBURY -- Small- and medium-sized businesses in northern Ontario that are struggling during the COVID-19 pandemic can access $22.3 million in new FedNor funds.

In a news release Friday, Mélanie Joly, minister of Economic Development and Official Languages, said the additional money is from the $600 million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund, which helps support businesses who may not be eligible for other programs.

“Small and medium sized businesses have been hit hard by COVID-19, and the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund is here to help them, protecting over 3,300 jobs across Northern Ontario," Jolie said in the release. With the second wave upon us, we’ve heard clearly from businesses and workers that more support is needed.”

Since the fund was launched in May, more than 12,000 businesses have received help from the fund, the release said, helping them keep their employees, cover costs and play a role in our economic recovery.

"It has been a lifeline for more than 762 businesses and organizations in northern Ontario that might otherwise not have survived, helping to maintain more than 3,300 jobs in the region," the release said.

Out of the additional funds for Northern Ontario, $6 million will be provided to the region’s Community Futures Development Corporations to target businesses in rural communities.

“I am pleased to be part of a government that is there for Northern Ontario communities and businesses during the ongoing pandemic," Sault MP Terry Sheehan said in the release. "We have heard first-hand about the challenges many of them are facing. The Regional Relief and Recovery Fund will enable FedNor and its partner Community Futures Development Corporations to continue their good work by investing directly in small- and medium-sized businesses that need a hand up to effectively address the challenges posed by COVID-19 and work toward recovery.”

Businesses and organizations in Northern Ontario that have applied for, but were unable to get access to sufficient relief from other federal COVID-19 programs, are encouraged to review the fund's eligibility requirements or to contact FedNor for more information.