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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: January 18th, 2021

Regional Chair Jim Bradley has created a Community Coordination Task Force to ensure that Niagara’s vaccine rollout is fair, equitable and ethical.
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, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending most orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA) for another 30 days. Most of the orders under the ROA are extended to February 19, 2021, with the exception of O. Reg. 75/20 (Drinking Water Systems and Sewage Works) which is not being renewed. O. Reg. 82/20 (Rules for Areas in Stage One) was amended to ensure government infrastructure projects are able to continue as essential construction activities. The Provincial State of Emergency that came into effect on Thursday, January 14, 2021 supersedes the ROA where applicable.
  • The Ontario government has opened the 2021 Budget consultation. The first virtual consultation was held today with members of the Ontario Chamber of Commerce. The discussion focused on the devastating economic impacts of COVID-19 and the need for a strong recovery fuelled by economic growth. Visit to learn how to submit your ideas by email, mail or by filling out a survey. The 2021 Budget Consultations will close on February 12, 2021.
  • The Ontario government announced today that starting January 25, francophone non-profit organizations can begin applying for financial assistance from the $1 million COVID-19 Relief Fund. The fund, which is being administered by the Assemblée de la francophonie de l’Ontario, will provide operational funding to eligible organizations to support them during the pandemic. Interested organizations should consult the AFO website at to learn more.
  • Regional Chair Jim Bradley has created a Community Coordination Task Force for COVID-19 Vaccination to ensure that Niagara’s vaccine rollout is fair, equitable and ethical. This past week, Niagara began vaccinating long-term care residents, staff, essential visitors, and other high risk front-line health care workers. Niagara is off to a strong start, thanks to careful planning and execution by Niagara Health and Public Health. Already, 22 per cent of long-term care homes have had their residents vaccinated after only two days, and Niagara is expected to deliver its 1000th dose today – the third day of vaccinations.
  • Niagara Health has been forced to make changes to Niagara’s vaccination plan owing to supply shortages of the Pfizer vaccine. The Province has directed that, effective immediately, all first doses of vaccine are to be used to vaccinate residents, staff and essential caregivers in long-term care and high-risk retirement homes. This is being done to ensure there is sufficient supply to vaccinate these individuals by Feb. 15. As a result, there will be a pause in vaccinating Niagara Health’s staff and physicians. “It is frustrating that vaccines to Niagara are being reduced again, when we have only just started vaccinating,” said Dr. Mustafa Hirji, Acting Medical Officer of Health and Commissioner of Public Health for the Niagara Region. “We are directing what vaccine we still do have to where it will save the most lives: long-term care and retirement home residents.” Niagara’s weekly shipment of Pfizer was delivered today as planned; however the anticipated shipment for the week of January 25 will no longer occur. Based on the provincial supply schedule, Niagara’s Pfizer supply will continue for the weeks of Feb. 1 and Feb. 8. Further supply allotments are expected to continue on a weekly basis and will be confirmed by the provincial government. Thus far, there is no plan for Niagara to receive the Moderna vaccine.
  • Insolvencies were down by almost one-third year over year during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic and were relatively stable in the third quarter. At the height of this century’s previous economic shocks, insolvencies rose by 10% or more. A new Statistics Canada study looks at insolvencies during the largest economic upheaval of our lifetime. The pandemic has posed significant challenges to the Canadian economy and the financial position of enterprises. The second quarter of 2020 saw the steepest decline in real gross domestic product (-11.3%) since quarterly data were first collected in 1961. Over the same period, businesses reported lower net income before taxes (-8.6%) and operating revenues (-13.1%). Despite the economic headwinds caused by the pandemic, insolvencies fell by almost one-third (-29.4%) year over year to 474 in the second quarter. This decline came at a time when many businesses were closed for a month or longer, and those that remained open faced a new and often more costly business reality. In the third quarter of 2020, the number of insolvencies was unchanged at 474, down 13.8% year over year. The study suggests that businesses that filed for insolvency in 2020 were already in a precarious financial situation before the COVID-19 pandemic. Even with the help of government programs, these corporations decided to file for insolvency. However, the fact that the number of insolvencies has decreased since the onset of the pandemic could indicate that businesses are waiting to see whether more government aid will be forthcoming and whether they will be able to manage their debt levels before filing for insolvency. Low borrowing costs for businesses could also partially explain this drop.

Reading recommendations

We found that schools can reopen for in-person instruction without further spreading COVID-19 in nearby communities if the number of people with the disease is relatively low. But if there are more than 21 cases per 100,000 people, COVID-19 spread may increase. To reach this conclusion, we used data from September through December 2020 in Michigan and Washington states – both of which allowed districts to decide whether or not to offer in-person schooling at that time – to analyze how these different instructional decisions affect COVID-19 case rates.

U.S. president-elect Joe Biden has indicated plans to cancel the Keystone XL pipeline permit via executive action on his first day in office, sources confirmed to CBC News on Sunday. A purported briefing note from the Biden transition team mentioning the plan was widely circulated over the weekend after being shared by the incoming president’s team with U.S. stakeholders. The words “Rescind Keystone XL pipeline permit” appear on a list of executive actions supposedly scheduled for Day 1 of Biden’s presidency.

The head of currencies at one of the world’s largest banks is partially responsible for the Canadian dollar’s appreciation over the past few months. Paris-based BNP Paribas SA’s currency portfolio is “overweight” loonies and Momtchil Pojarliev is advising the bank’s clients to do the same. He reckons the Canadian dollar is undervalued, since the petrocurrency’s price hasn’t fully adjusted to the likelihood of stronger oil prices as the global economy recovers from the pandemic. Pojarliev also thinks the Bank of Canada will be one of the first major central banks to raise interest rates, because stronger commodity prices and decent economic growth will force governor Tiff Macklem and his deputies to confront inflationary pressures sooner than most of their peers.

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

 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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