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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: December 11th, 2020

The Ontario government is moving seven public health regions to new levels with stronger public health measures.
Information on government grants, resources, and programs, as well as policies, forms, and posters for download and use, are available here.
The Government of Canada has a support page with summaries of current programs and application portals.

Vital updates:

  • The Ontario government is moving seven public health regions to new levels with stronger public health measures. No regions have been moved into a less restrictive status. Niagara’s status remains unchanged, in Orange-Restrict, although the region’s acting medical officer of health, Dr. Mustafa Hirji, has expressed concerns that Niagara could be moved into Red-Control by as early as the end of next week, as several key metrics are already very close to the red threshold and trending in the wrong direction. The GNCC advises businesses to review the changes in the Red-Control status and make their contingency plans for a possible change now. Effective Monday, December 14, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the following regions will have their status changed:
    • Grey-Lockdown
      • Windsor-Essex County Health Unit
      • York Region Public Health
    • Red-Control
      • Middlesex-London Health Unit
      • Simcoe Muskoka District Health Unit
      • Wellington-Dufferin-Guelph Public Health
    • Orange-Restrict
      • Eastern Ontario Health Unit
    • Yellow-Protect
      • Leeds, Grenville and Lanark District Health Unit
  • Between Sept. 18 and Nov. 28, Regional bylaw officers conducted 251 inspections of businesses across Niagara, including bars, restaurants, retail locations and others. Those inspections have resulted in 32 Part I Provincial Offence tickets ($750 fine) and three Part III summons (elevated fine) being issued for infractions under the Reopening Ontario Act, O.Reg. 364/20. Officers also issued 48 formal warnings and conducted 178 educational conversations. These inspections are in addition to those conducted by local area municipal bylaw offices. The GNCC recommends that all businesses review their legal obligations and suggested best practices, and implement them immediately, if they have not already done so, to protect the health of the public and avoid legal penalties. Questions can be directed to the Stop the Spread Business Information line at 1-888-444-3659.
  • The Ontario government is investing an additional $21 million in pre-apprenticeship training programs for up to 2,000 people, including at-risk youth, new Canadians, Indigenous peoples and women, to help them pursue the hands-on experience they need to begin careers in the skilled trades. Eligible organizations can apply for the funding now, with the call for proposals ending on January 5, 2021. Pre-apprenticeship training programs last up to one year and combine classroom training with an eight- to 12-week work placement. Last year this program helped train 1,800 people in 91 programs across the province. Training is free for participants and always includes a paid work placement. Eligible union and non-union training centres, colleges, employment agencies and other community organizations can submit their training proposals now.
  • The provincial government has announced that Infrastructure Ontario (IO) has entered into new commitments to provide financing through its Loan Program to four eligible organizations, including the Town of Lincoln, which received a $1,756,000 loan for multiple projects including a fire station, storm water management project and a community centre generator.
  • Alectra Utilities has clarified that, beginning in January 2021, it will reduce the average cost of electricity for Class A customers by 14 per cent and for Class B customers by 16 per cent, through a reduction of the Global Adjustment portion of the bill, under the Government of Ontario’s Comprehensive Electricity Plan. Businesses impacted by these changes will be larger business customers, typically classified as “Class A” or “Class B.” Most Class A customers are industrial and large-scale commercial customers. Class B customers are medium and larger-sized businesses, such as conference centres and medium-sized supermarkets.
  •  Statistics Canada’s national balance sheet and financial flow accounts for Q3 2020, released today, found that national net worth, the sum of national wealth and Canada’s net foreign asset position, had increased $572.6 billion from the previous quarter to $13,236.9 billion in the third quarter, largely fuelled by gains in the value of non-financial assets and an improvement in Canada’s net foreign asset position, which represents the difference between the value of Canada’s assets and liabilities with the rest of the world.
  • On a seasonally adjusted basis, total credit market borrowing increased from $7.2 billion to $38.4 billion in the third quarter. After reducing non-mortgage debt by $19.2 billion in the second quarter, households returned to accruing this type of debt, with a net increase of $9.7 billion. Demand for mortgage loans rose to $28.7 billion, setting a new high after record mortgage borrowing in the second quarter. The stock of credit market debt (consumer credit, and mortgage and non-mortgage loans) totalled $2,417.4 billion at the end of the quarter. Mortgage debt was $1,627.8 billion. Non-mortgage loans stood at $789.5 billion. Overall, the amount of debt in deferral as a result of the various relief measures provided by lenders had dropped significantly by the end of the third quarter.
  • The demand for funds by non-financial private corporations was $24.0 billion in the third quarter, up from $10.5 billion in the previous quarter. The funds were raised primarily through the issuance of equity, a marked shift from the reliance on bond issuances in the previous quarter. Borrowing in the form of non-mortgage loans continued to decline from the record level reached during the first quarter of 2020. This retrenching was mainly due to reduced loans with chartered banks (-$22.4 billion), with a return to pre-pandemic levels of debt with this lending sector. On the other hand, non-residents (+$8.9 billion) and the federal government (+$3.9 billion) continued to provide funds to non-financial private corporations, including through government programs, such as the Canadian Emergency Business Account, which extends loans to businesses. The program is ongoing until the first quarter of 2021.

Reading recommendations:

Less than 2 months ago, the US Department of Justice (DOJ) smacked Google with an antitrust case. In perhaps the greatest “hold my beer” ever, another government agency — the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) — just launched an antitrust case of its own against Facebook. And, unlike the Google case, this case is aiming for a breakup of its Big Tech target, according to the New York Times. The meat of the case concerns Facebook’s history of buying on-the-rise social apps, snuffing out future competition and reducing the end users’ experience.

Between 40 per cent to 70 per cent of employees currently working remotely due to COVID-19 restrictions want to go back to the office, with safety measures in place. Having a dedicated, distraction-free work space can keep workers on task and foster deeper cognitive processing. It can also help separate work hours from non-work hours. Nonetheless, returning to the office isn’t likely an option since many businesses might remain closed well into 2021, or some might have moved permanently to a work-from-home model. Some workers might also be facing a lengthy commute if they’ve moved away from cities during the lengthy pandemic. Similar to the “shop local” messaging encouraging consumers to buy from small neighbourhood retailers, working remotely from a nearby hotel could be a solution that benefits both remote workers and local hotels until the pandemic has passed.

 If you are showing symptoms, contact your health care provider, call the Public Health Info-Line at 905-688-8248, or chat to Public Health online. For testing, call 905-378-4647 ext. 42819 (4-CV19) for information on test centres in Niagara and to book an appointment.

Previous updates can be accessed here.

The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.

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