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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: January 14th, 2021

The Ontario government has issued an emergency order to pause the enforcement of residential evictions during the provincial declaration of emergency.
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

  • As previously announced, the Ontario government has formally issued an emergency order to temporarily pause the enforcement of residential evictions during the provincial declaration of emergency and while the stay-at-home-order is in force. Changes to the Residential Tenancies Act also require the Landlord and Tenant Board to consider whether a landlord attempted to negotiate a repayment agreement, before resorting to an eviction for non-payment of rent during COVID-19.
  • Beginning this Saturday and Sunday, approximately 50 ministry inspectors, as well as local bylaw and police officers, will be visiting big-box stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham. The blitz will focus on ensuring workers and patrons are wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and following every health and safety measure. Workplace health and safety inspectors will have the authority to ticket supervisors, employees and patrons who do not comply with COVID-19 safety requirements, temporarily close a premise and disperse groups of more than five people. No announcement regarding inspections in Niagara has been made, but local police and bylaw enforcement have stated that they are ready to enforce legislation. Individuals and businesses who are not following the rules can be fined. The set fines are $750 for not following the rules, and $1,000 for preventing others (including employees or other workers) from following the rules. Maximum fines can be up to $100,000 for individuals and $10 million for a corporation. Failure to follow the rules could also result in prosecution or even a year in jail.
  • Today, Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation, announced that Ontario is providing $375 million through the Gas Tax program to help 109 municipalities across the province operate and expand public transit. The province will flow the funding as soon as possible in 2021. Funding for the Gas Tax program is determined by the number of litres of gasoline sold in the province during the previous year. Municipalities supporting public transit services in their community receive two cents per litre of provincial gas tax revenue collected. This funding can be used to extend service hours, buy transit vehicles, add routes, improve accessibility or upgrade infrastructure. A list of all municipalities that received funding, and how much, can be viewed here.
  • The City of St. Catharines is pivoting its mode of service delivery due to the current State of Emergency to provide more to its residents via online and over the phone. In light of the Province-wide State of Emergency and 28-day stay-at-home order, the City will further restrict access to City Hall. Residents will still have access to all essential services provided by the City by emailing the Citizens First Customer Service team at CitizensFirst@stcatharines.ca or calling 905-688-5600. St. Catharines Farmers Market will continue for residents’ fresh, local produce needs, however, only on Saturdays with access limited to one person per vendor.
  • Lincoln Town Hall is now open by appointment only. Visitors are asked to contact the Town ahead of time to make an appointment for essential services. Please call 905-563-8205 or e-mail info@lincoln.ca to book appointments. For more information on facility and service impacts and to see what’s open and what’s closed in Lincoln since the provincial shutdown starting December 26, visit https://lincoln.ca/coronavirus-pandemic/facility-service-impacts.
  • As required by the Province, Niagara-on-the-Lake town facilities, including the Community Centre, Centennial and Meridian Credit Union Arenas, and Administration Buildings, remain closed to the public (PDF link). Town staff remain available to serve residents and businesses online, over the phone, and with arranged curbside pick-up. Click here (PDF link) for an outline to obtaining Town services.
  • Port Colborne City Hall will continue to serve residents by appointment. In-person appointments will be scheduled for essential and time sensitive services. Where possible, services will be provided through remote means. To access City services, please call the City’s customer service representative team at 905-835-2900.
  • The Township of Wainfleet will continue to operate and provide services to residents remotely (PDF link). Although the physical doors to Town hall will be closed to the public; staff will continue to offer residents, businesses and visitors services by phone, email, website and social media channels. If alternative arrangements need to be made, in-person appointments may be scheduled for critically essential and time sensitive matters only, while ensuring the health and safety of both residents and staff. Members of the public requiring services from the Township can reach out to the key contacts listed on the Township’s website.
  • Yesterday, Niagara Health (NH) and Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services (NRPH&ES) administered the first 322 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. Niagara Health vaccinated 108 long-term care home workers and 70 hospital staff and physicians. Meanwhile, NRPH&ES teams were deployed to two long-term care homes, one in St. Catharines and one in Fort Erie, vaccinating 144 residents and staff.
  • In most large urban regions (census metropolitan areas [CMAs]) in the country, population growth slowed from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020, compared with the same period a year earlier (+1.3% compared with +1.7%). However, the long-term trend of urbanization continued over that period, as the other regions of the country grew at a lower rate (+0.6%). Despite lower international migration (permanent and temporary) due to travel restrictions aimed at reducing the spread of COVID-19, international migration accounted for the vast majority (90.3%) of the growth in CMAs from July 1, 2019, to July 1, 2020. In comparison, it accounted for just over one-third of the population growth in other regions of the country. Excess mortality attributable to COVID-19 has had a limited impact on the slowing population growth in urban centres, despite urban centres being the epicentres of the pandemic. St. Catharines-Niagara remained one of the slowest-growing CMAs in the country.

Reading recommendations

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey defended his company’s ban of U.S. President Donald Trump in a philosophical Twitter thread that is his first public statement on the subject. When Trump incited his followers to storm the U.S. Capitol last week, then continued to tweet potentially ominous messages, Dorsey said the resulting risk to public safety created an “extraordinary and untenable circumstance” for the company. Having already briefly suspended Trump’s account the day of the Capitol riot, Twitter on Friday banned Trump entirely, then smacked down the president’s attempts to tweet using other accounts.

A record number of Canadians left major urban centres last year amid the pandemic, led by youth and young families. The nation’s three largest cities — Toronto, Montreal and Vancouver — saw a sharp jump in the number of citizens moving to suburbs, smaller towns and rural areas, according to Statistics Canada data released Thursday. A total of 87,444 people left those three cities between July 2019 and July 2020 for other parts of the same province, up from an average annual exodus of 72,686 the previous three years.

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 number1.41.81.41.11.00.70.9
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%

Definitions:

  • 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

 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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