SUDBURY -- Ontario Minister Greg Rickford unveiled a new Northern Ontario Recovery Program to help businesses adapt to new COVID-19 health guidelines.

Changes are being made to the Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation (NOHFC) and all existing programs are being wound down to focus exclusively on the new economic recovery efforts and address immediate and urgent impacts on businesses.

Rickford announced Monday morning via video conference $20 million is being allocated to support small businesses return to "normal" and get the northern economy "back on track."

"There is no denying that COVID-19 has had a significant impact on businesses throughout northern Ontario and this program will deliver targeted funding so they can continue to serve their communities," said Rickford.

Companies will be able to apply for grants of up to $25,000 between Oct. 1 and the end of the year. The money is not a loan and will not be expected to be repaid.

Some of the qualifying projects include:

  • Renovations and new construction
  • Purchase of new equipment and technology
  • Advertising and marketing to showcase COVID-19 safety efforts

The funding will include projects already completed.

"Our goal is turnaround these projects within a month," John Guerard, executive director of Northern Ontario Heritage Fund Corporation.

Businesses with more than one location will be allowed to submit applications for each one.

"If they are in different locations and cities, they will entertain additional applications," said Guerard.

Read Rickford's full annoucement here.

More to come on this developing story, check back for updates.