Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program: COVID-19 support loans


It has been just over a year since the global pandemic started and though there are signs of economic recovery, many businesses are still feeling the effects of lockdowns, reduced capacity limits, travel restrictions and supply chain disruptions. Some sectors have been hit harder than others, which is why the Government of Canada launched the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) earlier in the year. Its aim is to provide pandemic support loans for all Canadian businesses, but primarily for highly affected sectors such as hospitality and tourism.

“We are launching the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program to help those businesses hit hardest by the pandemic with low-interest, government-backed loans. By investing in Canada’s businesses, as well as workers and their families, we are investing in our shared recovery and a better future for all.”–The Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade in a Canada.ca News Release, Jan 26, 2021

HASCAP government funding supports all businesses that have experienced a substantial decrease in revenues by at least 50% because of COVID-19.

Qualified small to medium-sized Canadian businesses can receive up to $25,000 to $1 million in HASCAP support loans, and larger organizations with multiple locations, such as restaurants or hotels, can receive up to $6.25 million in government funding.

About HASCAP loans for COVID-19 business support

Administered through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC), the Highly Affected Sectors Credit Availability Program (HASCAP) aims to offer financial assistance to Canadian businesses that have been hit hard by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Applicant eligibility:

Based on the following eligibility criteria established by the Government of Canada, a primary financial institution will determine whether a business qualifies for HASCAP loans:

  • An eligible business must be based in Canada, and have been financially stable and viable prior to the current economic situation.
  • An eligible business must have received payments either from the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) or the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy (CERS) by having demonstrated a minimum 50% revenue decline for at least three months (not necessarily consecutive) within an eight-month period prior to the date of the HASCAP Guarantee application.
  • If an eligible business does not qualify for CEWS and CERS, but otherwise meets all HASCAP eligibility criteria, they must provide financial statements that reflect at least three months where their revenue decreased by a minimum of 50% within the eight-month period prior to the date of the HASCAP Guarantee application.


An eligible business can apply for a HASCAP loan for each legal entity they own, up to a maximum combined amount of $6.25 million (all legal entities combined).

  • Up to $25,000 to $1 million in loans for a single, small to medium-sized business.
  • Up to $6.25 million in loans for large organizations with multiple business locations.

Eligible expenses:

HASCAP loans cannot be used to pay or refinance existing debts; the loan will be used exclusively to continue or resume operations by relief of payments relating to:

  • Rent payments.
  • Employee payroll.
  • Any additional costs deemed eligible to sustain business operations.

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  • The HASCAP Guarantee is available until June 30, 2021.
  • From a 4% interest rate and a repayment term of up to 10 years.
  • Up to a 12-month postponement of principal payments at the start of the loan.

Other COVID-19 government funding support options

There have been dozens of government programs that have launched in support of the relief and recovery of Canadian businesses impacted by COVID-19 restrictions, lockdowns and overall pandemic fatigue.

To learn more about these government funding options offered to assist Canadian businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, please visit the Mentor Works COVID-19 Funding Page.

Mentor Works is a business support organization specializing in Canadian government funding. The Ontario-based business has helped hundreds of businesses build and execute their funding strategy through a mix of federal and provincial government grants, loans, and tax credits. Mentor Works offers free online resources, funding webinars, and news via their website at www.mentorworks.ca.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this article are those of the contributing author, and do not necessarily reflect those of the Forum for International Trade Training.

About the author

Author: Alena Barreca

As a Marketing Coordinator at Mentor Works, Alena helps Canadian business owners by creating educational content about government funding.

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