The first round of quake-affected businesses signed up to the Government's wage assistance package will see money in the bank tomorrow.
The Canterbury Chamber of Commerce has worked to approve a number of small businesses in the last two days.
They'll receive $350 a week per staff member.
Chamber Chief Executive Peter Townsend says the payments will be processed at midnight.
"So that is an extraordinarily fast relief package, it's in place and we will see that building quite significantly over the next few days."
Mr Townsend says there should be another round of payments to more businesses on Friday night.
The Government announced on Tuesday it was putting aside $15 million for the $350-a-week subsidies which can be paid to earthquake-affected businesses so they can continue to pay their employees.
Mr English said that in the day-and-a-half since the announcement was made Work and Income had received about 340 calls from employers and 36 formal applications.
"The first few have already been approved and we expect that to grow quickly over coming days," he said.
Updating Parliament on the cost of earthquake damage, he told MPs the $4 billion estimate issued by Treasury yesterday was "still a very early estimate" and a better idea of the overall cost would gained when more information was available.
"So far the Earthquake Commission has received 36,000 claims and expects this to rise to around 100,000 claims in coming weeks," Mr English said.
Asked about the cost to the economy, he said Treasury expected there would be lower GDP growth over the next two or three months but a net benefit over the 12 months following that as money from insurance companies and the Earthquake Commission was injected into the Canterbury economy.
- Newstalk ZB, NZPA