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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: February 2nd, 2021

Ontario seeks public input to help shape digital ID program

The Ontario government is launching an online consultation to seek input on the province’s plan to introduce a digital ID by the end of 2021. The Digital ID program aims to allow people and businesses in Ontario to securely and conveniently prove their identity online. It is hoped that this will save people time and money and offer more convenient access to government and private sector services.

Launching today, the consultation will be open from February 2 to February 26, 2021 via online surveys for the public and small-to-medium-size enterprises (SMEs) as well as virtual focus groups for SMEs. Participants will have the opportunity to help shape the government’s approach to introducing a digital ID while voicing their top priorities and concerns.

St. Catharines waives 2021 licence fees for certain types of businesses

St. Catharines City Council has approved the waiving of business licence fees for 2021 to assist a number of businesses including restaurants, theatres and public halls during the COVID-19 pandemic. Business Licence fees for 2021 will be waived for amusement arcades, auctioneers, hawker/peddlers (e.g. food trucks), public halls, refreshment stands, restaurants and theatres.

The motion will have an estimated cost of $92,000 on the City’s budget.

Pelham launches special pre-authorized property taxes COVID-19 payment plan for 2021

On Monday, February 1, 2021, the Town of Pelham Councill approved the Special Pre-authorized Property Taxes COVID-19 Payment Plan for 2021, allowing all taxpayers whose taxes were paid in full as of February 28, 2020, and who have since experienced severe financial hardship due to the pandemic, to pay their outstanding 2020 and 2021 property taxes penalty and interest-free over a 10- month period starting March 2021. The plan includes commercial and industrial properties.

Applications are due by February 19, 2021, for the 10-month payment period. After this date, applicants will see the payment period reduced by the number of months left in 2021.

The application-based program allows for all property taxpayers to pay their outstanding 2020 tax balance (including any penalty and interest charged), in addition to their 2021 taxes, through pre-authorized payments over 10 equal instalments on the 15th of each month from March 15, 2021, to December 15, 2021. The Town will not charge a penalty, and interest will not be charged on accounts for this pre-authorized plan.

Eligibility requirements and an application form can be accessed here.

Canadian Chamber urges rollback of European Commission vaccine export authorization regime

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce President & CEO, Honourable Perrin Beatty, stated that the CCC is “deeply concerned with the Commission’s decision to introduce a vaccine authorization scheme for export of COVID-19 vaccines and its inputs. Given the concentrated nature of vaccine production, this regime creates significant uncertainty for vaccine manufacturers, logistic companies, citizens, and businesses globally.”

The European decision is likely not motivated by Canadian vaccine deployment, but by multiple failures in European vaccine production and mass inoculation producing in a diplomatic row with the United Kingdom, which recently left the Union.

Health care workers report worsening mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic

Seven in ten health care workers who participated in a recent crowdsourcing initiative reported worsening mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to results released today by Statistics Canada. Participating health care workers who worked in direct contact with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 and those who experienced restrictions or conditions on the supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) were more affected than others.

These findings come from a new crowdsourcing initiative, Impacts of COVID-19 on Health Care Workers: Infection Prevention and Control, developed by Statistics Canada in collaboration with Health Canada, the Canadian Institute for Health Information and the Public Health Agency of Canada. A previous study from Statistics Canada has shown that Canadian adults (aged 18 and older) reported lower self-perceived mental health than before the pandemic.

Eight months into the global pandemic, one-third (33%) of participating health care workers reported fair or poor mental health, one-third (33%) reported good mental health, and one-third (33%) reported very good or excellent mental health. Most participating health care workers (70%) reported that their mental health was “somewhat worse now” or “much worse now” compared with before March 2020. In addition, when asked to choose between five levels indicating how stressful most days were, 56% chose one of the two highest levels, reporting that most days were “quite a bit stressful” or “extremely stressful.”

Among crowdsourcing participants, 40% reported working in direct contact with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19; most of these workers were nurses (41%), followed by other health professionals (31%) and personal support workers or care aides (12%). Over three-quarters (77%) of health care workers who reported working in direct contact with confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 reported worsening mental health compared with before the COVID-19 pandemic. By contrast, among health care workers who did not work in direct contact with people, 62% reported that their mental health was somewhat or much worse than before the pandemic.

Government of Canada investments in COVID-19 vaccines and biomanufacturing capacity

Today, the Honourable François-Philippe Champagne, Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, highlighted investments to build Canada’s biomanufacturing capacity and talked about the next steps in Canada’s immediate response to COVID-19. The government established the Vaccine and Therapeutics task forces and Biomanufacturing Subcommittee, made up of leading industry experts and scientists, to advise the government on how to address this challenge as a national priority.

The government has invested more than $1 billion in vaccine procurement agreements to secure a domestic supply, of up to 429 million doses, of seven promising vaccines—representing more than 10 doses for every Canadian.

Novavax and Government of Canada reach agreement to produce vaccine in Montreal

Canada has signed a memorandum of understanding with Maryland-based Novavax “to pursue the production” of the vaccine at a facility being built in Montreal by the National Research Council, a government agency, according to a statement Tuesday from the Canadian leader. Vaccine production is set to begin in late July.

Trudeau has pledged to inoculate a majority of Canadians by the end of September. As of Monday, Canada had administered 2.6 doses per 100 people, putting it toward the bottom of the pack among Group of Seven nations. The U.K. has vaccinated 14.7 per cent of its population, compared to 10 per cent in the U.S., 3.3 per cent in Italy and 3 per cent in Germany.

Canadian public-health authorities have yet to approve the Novavax vaccine.

Reading recommendations

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, The New York Times

According to the F.B.I.’s Internet Crime Complaint Center, the total losses reported to it by scam victims increased to $3.5 billion in 2019 from $1.4 billion in 2017. Last year, the app Truecaller commissioned the Harris Poll to survey roughly 2,000 American adults and found that 22 percent of the respondents said they had lost money to a phone scam in the past 12 months; Truecaller projects that as many as 56 million Americans may have been victimized this way, losing nearly $20 billion.

Harassment rises for 1 in 4 women working from home

Jim Wilson, Canadian HR Reporter

Nearly half (45 per cent) of women experiencing sexual harassment say it happens remotely, according to a report. This can include: sexual messages, such as email, texts or social media posts; cyber harassment such as Zoom, Teams or Slack; and sexual calls.

And 23 per cent of women who have experienced harassment say it has increased since they started working from home in March, and 15 per cent report an increase in online harassment whilst working from home during the COVID-19, found a survey of women in the United Kingdom and Wales by the charity Rights of Women.

Featured Content

Attracting & Retaining the Right Talent

Nick Pollice, Pollice Consulting Group

In April of 2017, two senior partners with McKinsey & Company; Mary Meaney (Paris) and Scott Keller (Southern California) authored a book called Leading Organizations. In their book Meaney and Keller addressed ten most basic challenges facing leaders today the first of which is attracting & retaining the right talent.

Much to the astonishment of several senior leaders, nothing is more pronounced today as 30 % of all employees are looking for new career opportunities. The Canadian Labour Market remains favourable for job seekers and the result is twofold: for organizations, the competition for talent has grown fierce and they have to work harder to attract and retain the workers they need to drive their business. For job seekers, opportunities abound, and it’s become increasingly common for workers to yearn for change at some point or another.

Niagara COVID status tracker

Niagara’s most up-to-date COVID statistics, measured against the targets for the various stages of the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework, are presented below. This does not predict government policy, but is offered to give you an idea of where Niagara is situated and how likely a relaxation (or further restrictions) may be. These data are drawn daily from Niagara Region. The Grey-Lockdown level does not have its own metrics, but is triggered when the COVID-specific measurements in a Red-Control region have continued to deteriorate.

Note that the Provincewide Shutdown is not the same as the Grey-Lockdown level listed in the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework, which has been suspended for the duration of the shutdown. Additional restrictions for businesses apply during the Shutdown. Businesses should not use the Response Framework as a guide during this time, but should instead refer to the Shutdown guidelines.

 December 18December 25January 1January 8January 15January 22January 29
Reproductive number1.
New cases per 100,000101.2267.3469.8575.8507.1295.5250.6
New cases per day (not including outbreaks)60.7178.7311.7376.9325.4182.7145.7
Percent of hospital beds occupied97%95.2%98.2%103.2%104.5%103.6%106%
Percent of intensive care beds occupied78.8%77.3%87.9%87.9%90.9%89.4%93.9%
Percentage of positive tests6.1%15.6%28.1%28.6%26.6%21.2%16.2%


  • Weekly Incidence Rate: the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per week
  • Percent Positivity: the number of positive COVID-19 tests as a percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed
  • Rt: the reproductive rate, or the number of people infected by each case of the virus

Information on government grants, resources, and programs, policies, forms, and posters for download and use, are available here.The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.
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