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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: December 16th, 2020

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 employer application period for the Canada Summer Jobs Grant 2021 will open on Monday, December 21, 2020, and close on Friday, January 29, 2021. Not-for-profit organizations, public-sector employers, and private-sector employers with 50 or fewer full-time employees can start preparing their applications now to hire a young Canadian. Employers interested in applying for CSJ 2021 funding are encouraged to prepare their applications in advance of next week’s launch. Applicants who do not have an account on the secure Government Grants and Contributions Online Services portal are encouraged to create one prior to the launch of the application process. Similar temporary flexibilities introduced for CSJ 2020 will be applied this year to help small businesses operate. These include:
    • a wage subsidy, so that private and public-sector employers can receive up to 75 percent of the provincial or territorial minimum hourly wage for each employee (not-for-profit organizations will continue to receive 100 percent);
    • an extension to the end date for employment to February 26, 2022; and
    • allowing employers to hire staff on a part-time basis.
  • The Ontario government released its new Poverty Reduction Strategy today which is intended to help more people get back to work and participate in the province’s economic recovery from COVID-19. The five-year strategy outlines the following key initiatives:
    • Encouraging job creation and connecting people to employment – making investments in education, employment services, and training programs so people can get the skills and experience they need.
    • Connecting people with the right supports and services – improving access to supports that address health and well-being and enabling access to education, training, and employment, leading to increased community participation.
    • Making life more affordable and building financial resiliency – reducing the cost of living, protecting consumers, and helping people keep more of their hard-earned money.
    • Accelerating action and driving progress – using evidence and working across sectors to support economic recovery and developing integrated solutions that better connect the province’s health, social, and economic systems.
  • The Ontario government is encouraging people to “show your love for local” by exploring new and creative ways to reconnect with the unique small businesses and places that make the province’s communities special. To promote this effort Destination Ontario, an agency of the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, is launching a new “Support Local” campaign. The new campaign will launch on TV, radio, digital and social media starting mid-December and run until mid-January 2021. The GNCC’s own Shop Local campaign, powered by Meridian Credit Union, can also be found on Facebook and Instagram.
  • The Ontario government is allocating an additional $695 million to provide financial relief for municipalities and help ensure they do not carry operating deficits into 2021. This investment builds upon the first phase of the federal-provincial Safe Restart Agreement announced this summer. Of the $695 million announced today, $299 million is being allocated across all 444 municipalities to help provide more financial relief, as 2021 operating budgets are finalized. An additional $396 million is also being allocated to 48 municipalities that have been hardest hit by COVID-19 and have demonstrated a need for additional assistance in covering their 2020 operating deficits. Regional Chair Jim Bradley formally thanked the province, noting that “this critical and welcomed funding will provide both much needed financial relief for the numerous unexpected costs related to the pandemic, as well as a significant boost for our affordable housing and homelessness infrastructure in Niagara.” The following Niagara municipalities are receiving funding under the Safe Restart Agreement:
    • Niagara Region: $2,441,000 ($5.45 per capita)
    • Fort Erie: $191,000 ($6.22 per capita)
    • Grimsby: $137,000 ($5.01 per capita)
    • Lincoln: $113,000 ($4.75 per capita)
    • Niagara Falls: $466,000 ($5.29 per capita)
    • Niagara-on-the-Lake: $105,000 ($6.00 per capita)
    • Pelham: $86,000 ($5.03 per capita)
    • Port Colborne: $125,000 ($6.83 per capita)
    • St. Catharines: $726,000 ($5.17 per capita)
    • Thorold: $104,000 ($5.53 per capita)
    • Wainfleet: $39,000 ($6.12 per capita)
    • Welland: $283,000 ($5.41 per capita)
    • West Lincoln: $66,000 ($4.55 per capita)
  • The City of Port Colborne unanimously voted to donate Chestnut Park to Port Cares in order to build affordable housing units for the community. Council had previously asked staff to explore innovative approaches and strategic partnerships to address affordable housing shortages. After reviewing several options, it was determined that Chestnut Park, located between Lock Street and Clarke Street, could be repurposed and redeveloped for a broader community benefit. Port Cares will acquire the Chestnut Park property from the City of Port Colborne and construct a multi-unit, low rise affordable housing structure. The City will transfer Chestnut Park to Port Cares for $1, as its contribution to this affordable housing project.
  • Welland City Council approved the 2021 municipal budgets (PDF link) at last night’s City Council Meeting. The 2021 Budgets will focus on essential infrastructure and investments in additional road resurfacing. The budgets will also invest in capital projects, such as replacing ageing water and wastewater infrastructure to reduce infiltration into the city’s wastewater system.
    The 2021 Tax Supported Operating Budget presents a 1.96 % tax increase (municipal portion) after assessment growth and includes $44.4 million in capital next year.
  • Today, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce, Canadian Council for Aboriginal Business, Canadian Federation of Independent Business, and Retail Council of Canada, are together launching the Pan-Canadian Strategy to Manage COVID-19. Additionally, the four groups are asking all Canadians to show their support for this effort by signing a petition, which calls on our governments to implement the Pan-Canadian Strategy to Manage COVID-19.
  • New data from Statistics Canada, released today, has shown that year over year, the Consumer Price Index (CPI) rose at a faster pace in November (+1.0%) than in October (+0.7%), with shelter prices (+1.9%) contributing the most to the all-items increase. Excluding gasoline, the CPI rose 1.3% in November, up from a 1.0% increase in October. Although consumer confidence remains below pre-pandemic levels, increased consumer spending on household durable goods supported higher prices for furniture (+2.8%) and household appliances (+2.9%), which remain above pre-pandemic levels. Rent prices rose 1.5% in the 12 months to November, up from a 1.0% increase in October, while gasoline prices fell 11.9% year over year in November, with domestic and international demand remaining low.
  • Texas, backed by nine other states, filed a lawsuit against Alphabet Inc.-owned Google today, accusing it of breaking antitrust law in how it runs its online advertising business. The Texas lawsuit is the fourth in a series of federal and state lawsuits aimed at reining in alleged bad behaviour by the big tech platforms that have grown significantly in the past two decades. The lawsuit was filed in the Eastern District of Texas. The nine states that joined Texas are Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky, Missouri, Mississippi, South Dakota, North Dakota, Utah and Idaho.
  • The Honourable Navdeep Bains, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, today announced that the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and NASA have signed the Gateway Treaty, a historic agreement that confirms Canada’s participation in the next major international collaboration in space exploration, the planned Lunar Gateway space station. Under the Treaty, a Canadian will be part of the Artemis II mission, the first crewed mission to the Moon since 1972. This mission, planned to launch in 2023, positions Canada to make history as the second country to have an astronaut travel to deep space and fly around the Moon. Fourteen Canadian astronauts have been recruited since 1983, and nine of them have flown in space a total of seventeen times. Hundreds of Canadian companies are expected to be involved in the development of Canadarm3 for the Lunar Gateway, working with the prime contractor MacDonald, Dettwiler and Associates Ltd. (MDA) and research organizations, to drive innovation and Canadian excellence in emerging technologies. Canada’s Industrial and Technological Benefits (ITB) Policy applies to the development and build of the Canadarm3, which will generate significant economic benefits in the Canadian space sector. In addition, the Canadarm3 control station will be located on Canadian soil.
  • Transport Canada is pleased to announce that the Minister of Transport, the Honourable Marc Garneau, has cleared Santa for take-off in Canadian airspace this Christmas season. Transport Canada safety experts have also conducted their routine sleigh and reindeer inspections and validated Santa’s pilot license. Santa has been washing his hands, maintaining a distance of two metres from the elves in the workshop, and has been wearing his face covering when unable to physically distance. Santa has also installed the COVID Alert app on his smartphone.

Reading recommendations:

Electrifying transport has become a top priority in the move to a lower-carbon future. In Europe, car travel accounts for around 12% of all the continent’s carbon emissions. To keep in line with the Paris agreement, emissions from cars and vans will need to drop by more than a third (37.5%) by 2030. The EU has set an ambitious goal of reducing overall greenhouse gas emissions by 55% by the same date. To that end, Brussels and individual member states are pouring millions of euros into incentivising car owners to switch to electric. Some countries are going even further, proposing to ban sales of diesel and petrol vehicles in the near future (as early as 2025 in the case of Norway). If all goes to plan, European electric vehicle ownership could jump from around 2m today to 40m by 2030. But Europe has a problem. At present, almost every ounce of battery-grade lithium is imported. More than half (55%) of global lithium production last year originated in just one country: Australia. Other principal suppliers, such as Chile (23%), China (10%) and Argentina (8%), are equally far-flung.

With the hopeful news that Canada will be receiving COVID-19 vaccine doses in the near future, embattled employers might face potentially thorny legal questions around the issue. Canadian HR Reporter spoke with Shaun Parker, employment and labour associate at Osler in Calgary, about some of the issues organizations should keep in mind.

 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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