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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: January 11th, 2021

The GNCC believes that the best & most sustainable way for our society and economy to return to normal is through rapid vaccination of our population.
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 GNCC has issued the following position statement regarding the rollout of COVID-19 vaccines:

The GNCC believes that the best and most sustainable way for our society and economy to return to normal while preserving the health of the public will be the rapid vaccination of the Canadian population.

We are concerned that the Government of Canada chose not to exercise an option to acquire an additional 16 million doses of the Moderna vaccine (which is easier to ship and store than the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine). We hope that the government will explain this decision and, if made in error, their plans to correct it.

With the pandemic out of control in the province of Ontario, vaccines need to be administered at the greatest possible speed. Delays in inoculation should not be tolerated.

Canada has vaccinated roughly 0.85% of its population. The UK has vaccinated 1.9%, the USA and Denmark have vaccinated 2%, and an astonishing 21% of Israelis have been vaccinated to date. We do not believe there is a compelling explanation found in Canada’s institutions, infrastructure, or level of development which leads us to have a vaccination rate markedly lower than that of Israel, the USA, the UK, Denmark, Iceland, or Italy over the same period. There is clearly a need for increased supply and distribution. We urge governments at the provincial and federal levels to come forward with their plans to increase the speed of vaccination and correct this slow start.

  • The Government of Ontario will be expanding eligibility for the targeted emergency child care program to more frontline workers. This expansion helps the parents of school-aged children who may not be able to support their child’s learning/care at home because they are performing critical roles in their communities and are required to report to work in person. New Additions to the List of Those Eligible for Emergency Child Care:
    • Front-line staff in Children’s Aid Societies and residential services
    • Individuals working in developmental services, violence against women services, and anti-human trafficking
    • Individuals working in victims’ services
    • Individuals engaged in interpreting or intervenor services for persons who are deaf or deaf-blind
    • Individuals working in a homeless shelter or providing services to homeless persons
    • Food safety inspectors and individuals working in the processing, manufacturing or distribution of food and beverages
    • Provincial court services personnel, including Indigenous court workers
    • OPS staff employed in Radiation Protection Services
    • RCMP and Canada Border Services
    • Canada Post
    • Pharma and medical device manufacturing and distribution
    • Power workers
    • Non-municipal water and wastewater workers
    • Education staff who are required to attend schools to provide in-person instruction and support to students with special education needs who cannot be accommodated through remote learning
    • Employees of a hotel or motel that is acting as an isolation centre, health care centre, vaccine clinic or housing essential workers.
  • The Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team, with funding from the Federal Economic Development Agency of Southern Ontario, is currently accepting applications for its Tourism Adaptation and Recovery Fund program. The Tourism Adaptation and Recovery Fund program will provide financial assistance in the form of 80% grants to enable tourism-dependent, small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) and Arts and Culture Not-for-Profits (NFP) organizations, to equip themselves to meet Public Health guidelines and protocols. The grant will enable the business to continue to operate, particularly through the shoulder and off-season in 2020/21. Priority will be given to projects that retain/create jobs, have a high jobs/dollar invested ratio and increase the competitiveness and sustainability of the business post COVID-19. To apply to the fund, please complete a Tourism Adaption and Recovery Fund Application Form and submit it by email to errt@niagararegion.ca.
  • The YMCA of Niagara has made the difficult decision to permanently close the Niagara Falls YMCA, located in the MacBain Community Centre, effective immediately. The location, which opened in 2005, has been temporarily closed since mid-March when the YMCA of Niagara shut down all five of its health, fitness and aquatics centres, in accordance with government directives related to the pandemic.
  • Niagara’s 12 Mayors and the Regional Chair recently met virtually to discuss the pressing challenges facing the community due to the second wave of COVID-19 and agreed on the following set of actions:
    • Explore opportunities to share staff resources in all appropriate areas to further bolster Niagara’s pandemic response
    • Call on the province to ensure our frontline health care workers and residents have equal and timely access to vaccines
    • Urge the province to consider increasing the role municipalities and local Public Health units have in the vaccine distribution strategy and to more openly share its plans regarding vaccine distribution
    • Add paramedics to the list of priority healthcare staff to receive the vaccination
    • Commit to share information in a timely and accurate way
    • Request the community’s patience and understanding as vaccines begin to arrive across the region.
  • Niagara Health expects delivery of the Pfizer vaccine on Tuesday or Wednesday, and will begin vaccinating front-line healthcare workers in long-term care (LTC), high-risk retirement homes and the hospital at a vaccine clinic at the St. Catharines Site, followed by NH clinics opening in Niagara Falls, Welland, and/or other sites. At the same time, NRPH&ES will deploy small teams to long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes to support their staff vaccinating the residents under their care. For information on the province’s vaccine implementation plan: www.ontario.ca/page/ontarios-vaccine-distribution-implementation-plan. For updates on Niagara’s Vaccination Clinic: niagarahealth.on.ca/site/vaccination-clinic.

Reading recommendations

Environmentalists were already bracing themselves for the glut of padded mailers, corrugated fiberboard, shrink wrap, and bouncy air pillows the rise in online shopping promised to leave in its wake. The pandemic has only accelerated the timeline. Corrugated box shipments have climbed since March, when they jumped 9 percent year over year, according to the Fiber Box Association. Technavio, a market research firm, estimates that demand for filled-air products is poised to swell by $1.16 billion between 2020 and 2024 because of the spike in online sales. While paper packaging isn’t entirely benign — some 3 billion trees are pulped every year to produce 241 million tons of shipping cartons, cardboard mailers, void-fill wrappers, and other paper-based packaging, according to forest conservation group Canopy — single-use plastics present the bigger concern for environmentalists because they can persist in the environment, sometimes for hundreds of years. And their recyclability is often oversold.

The leaders of Canada’s top banks believe an economic rebound is on the horizon, but say the short-term looks difficult and spending won’t truly pick up until the back half of 2021 or even 2022. The chief executives of the country’s most prominent banks think Canada is benefiting from generous government relief packages that reduced delinquencies and insolvencies and the arrival of several promising COVID-19 vaccines. However, they say the coming weeks don’t look pretty because growing numbers of Canadians are continuing to contract the virus.

Niagara COVID status tracker

Note for 2021-01-11: Today’s caseload reflects an additional 388 cases due to clearance of a large backlog. This is a one time spike that ensures that the cumulative case count being reported now reflects the accurate total of cases that have been detected in Niagara. The backlog resulted from:

  • Test reports that are not new cases e.g. duplicate receipt of the same test result, repeat test result for an individual already reported as a case, or test results for people who no longer live in Niagara.
  • Difficulty in keeping up with the large number of daily new test results and cross-referencing them with existing tests to determine if a new case was detected.
  • A growing backlog of unreviewed lab results, which has now been cleared via automation.

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.

 Incidence ratePercent positivityRt
Target: Green<10<0.5%<1
Target: Yellow10-24.90.5-1.2%1
Target: Orange25-39.91.3-2.4%1-1.1
Target: Red≥40≥2.5%≥1.2
Niagara Current252.17.6%0.8

Definitions:

  • Weekly Incidence Rate: the number of 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

 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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