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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: January 4th, 2021

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

  • Legislative and regulatory changes have come into force as of January 1, 2021. Employers and other workplace parties are encouraged to consult or to contact the Labour Program at 1-800-641-4049 for more information or for support in implementing these changes in their workplace. A summary of the changes is as follows:
    • The anti-harassment and violence legislation (Bill C-65) puts in place a regime that aims to take all forms of harassment and violence into consideration.
    • Employers in federally regulated workplaces and parliamentary workplaces must conduct a workplace assessment, develop a workplace harassment and violence prevention policy, develop and implement violence and harassment training, and establish a thorough process for dealing with incidents.
    • The new Part IV (Administrative Monetary Penalties) of the Code establishes an administrative monetary penalties system, which penalizes employers who do not comply with the Code’s health and safety or labour standards.
    • Employers who do not comply with the Code’s occupational health and safety or labour standards provisions could face a monetary penalty of up to $250,000. Monetary penalties will be calculated based on the type of violation, the size of the business and any previous monetary penalties for violations of the same or higher classification.
    • To provide employers with more time to adjust to these changes, monetary penalties for administrative violations—for example, record keeping and reporting requirements—will not be imposed until January 1, 2022.
    • The amendments to the Employment Equity Regulations introduce new pay transparency measures to raise awareness of the wage gaps experienced by women, Indigenous Peoples, persons with disabilities and members of visible minorities in federally regulated workplaces. With the leadership of employers, the Government of Canada expects these measures to help shift business culture and expectations toward greater equality and better outcomes for workers and their families.
    • The first release of aggregated wage gap information is expected in the winter of 2023.
  • The Ontario government is providing a guide on how to start a home-based food business, which includes an overview of public health requirements that need to be followed as a food operator. To further support these entrepreneurs, the government has also made regulatory changes to allow more flexibility to sell low-risk, home-prepared foods. Low-risk foods are considered non-hazardous and do not require refrigeration. They include items such as baked goods, pickles, jams and preserves, chocolates, hard candies and brittles, fudge and toffees, granola, trail mix, nuts and seeds, and coffee beans and tea leaves. All food premises, including home-based food businesses, must adhere to requirements under the Health Protection and Promotion Act (HPPA) and the Food Premises Regulation, as well as periodic inspections by their local public health unit. Home-based food businesses that prepare only low-risk foods are exempt from certain regulatory requirements, such as specified handwashing stations in food premises, compliance with commercial dishwashing requirements and food handling training certification. The full guide can be downloaded here (PDF link).
  • The Provincewide Shutdown took effect on December 26th, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. The shutdown will last a minimum of 28 days in southern Ontario, and could be lifted later in some regions, thus ending no earlier than January 23rd, 2021. If the pandemic situation does not improve sufficiently, an extension seems likely. A summary of measures applicable to businesses can be downloaded here or viewed online here. Some of the more important points are listed below. Businesses should review the full list of rules and requirements. Questions can be directed to the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at 1-888-444-3659.
    • Closure of non-essential retail stores and malls (stores selling groceries, pharmacies, and liquor stores are considered essential; safety and medical stores or establishments and car dealerships are by appointment only), save for curbside pick-up and delivery, with capacity limits imposed on those stores that may remain open
    • No organized indoor events, with exceptions where all attendees are from the same household; outdoor events are limited to ten attendees. Weddings, funerals, and other religious ceremonies are permitted with up to ten people indoors
    • Child care facilities are open, including for the children of non-essential workers, but day camps are closed
    • Short-term rentals are only permitted for people without other housing
    • Restaurants, bars, and other food-and-drink establishments are closed except for pick-up and delivery. Alcohol may be included with pick-up and delivery orders.
  • The Government of Canada has suspended all flights from the United Kingdom until January 6, 2021. On December 26, the first confirmed Ontario cases of the new COVID variant first identified in the UK were reported. Starting January 7, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. EST, air travellers 5 years of age or older will be required to present a negative COVID-19 test result to the airline prior to boarding international flights bound for Canada. Anyone who receives a negative test result and is authorized to enter Canada must still complete the full, mandatory 14-day quarantine. Violating any instructions provided when entering Canada is an offence under the Quarantine Act and could lead to up to six months in prison and/or $750,000 in fines. More information, including frequently asked questions, is available here.

Reading recommendations

The “McTrain,” as it is unofficially known, reportedly got its start in 1992, when the Deutsche Bundesbahn (German Federal Railway) agreed to try outsourcing catering on long-distance routes to McDonald’s. The DB allowed McDonald’s to refit two of its dining cars for the program, installing deep fryers, coffee machines, soda fountains, water heaters, and multiple walk-ins in a 269 square-foot kitchen—still reportedly more than half the car. Despite the popularity of American cultural exports in former Eastern Bloc states and the regions surrounding them, the McTrain did poorly with German travelers. McDonald’s reputation for cheapness made it a hard sell to German travelers, especially the wealthy, by then accustomed to better meals on other routes. And despite the perception of fast food being cheap to produce, service proved anything but inexpensive for the DB and McDonald’s to provide.

A year into the pandemic, STAT is outlining a portrait of SARS-CoV-2 based on what scientists learned as the virus raced around the world, crippling some economies, societies, and health systems in its wake. There are still lots of questions about SARS-2, as scientists call the virus for short, from basic biological queries to multifaceted mysteries, like why certain people get so sick. But for a virus that’s sometimes portrayed as bestowed with superpowers, experts point out that SARS-2 is in many ways, well, pretty normal.

Featured Content

Change, is traumatic and for some it can be good while for others – it can be frightening. Change by nature can challenge employment, make people feel somewhat threatened by any alteration in the status quo or give organizations a path forward to a more prosperous future. Disruption accompanies change and these disruptions affect employees, leaders, resources, vendors and perhaps some clients. Organizations by their very being must change, and managers must implement changes and overcome resistance to them. This of course has never been more pronounced than the situation we find ourselves in today. From a positive perspective, COVID 19 has forced organizations to make changes that should have been made three to five years ago however, some of these changes are being conducted with little or no well thought out future goals or objectives 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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