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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: January 6th, 2021

The GNCC would like to remind readers about the government assistance programs now open, and to urge all of those who need assistance to apply for any and all eligible programs.
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 would like to remind readers about the government assistance programs now open, and to urge all of those who need assistance to apply for any and all eligible programs. These funds have been made available to help Canadians and Canadian businesses through these difficult times. A full list is available here, including many provincial programs offering rebates and credits towards PPE and other expenses, but some of the more important ones available to businesses, non-profits, and charities include:
  • Important programs for individuals are:
  • The City of St. Catharines is providing property owners who have experienced financial hardship due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic some additional flexibility in how they pay their taxes in the year ahead. Specifically, City Council has approved a Special Pre-authorized Property Taxes COVID-19 Payment Plan for 2021 which would allow all tax payers whose taxes were paid in full by Feb. 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 12-month period. Applications are now open for the program and must be received by Jan. 29, 2021. Those applying for the program will be expected to provide proof of financial hardships experienced as a result of COVID-19. Additionally, landlords whose tenants make property tax payments will be expected to allow such tenants to undertake the application process and access the program. For more information, visit
  • The Ontario government is launching a voluntary and free border testing pilot program at Toronto Pearson International Airport for eligible international travellers returning to Ontario aimed to help identify and stop the spread of COVID-19 in the province. 60,000 international travellers come into Pearson airport each week. Eligible travellers will be able pre-register for the program or proceed to get tested when they arrive at the airport. Those choosing to participate in the pilot will receive a free, self-collected lab-based polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and be supervised by a health care provider either in-person or by video as the traveller self-administers the test. Switch Health, a health service provider, will provide the monitored self-swabbing tests in a convenient and dedicated space in the airport. Test results will be reported into Ontario’s Lab Information System within 48 hours and local public health units will follow up on all positive tests. All international travellers will continue to be required to follow the federal requirement for a mandatory 14-day quarantine after arriving or returning to Canada, regardless if they have a negative or positive test.
  • Meanwhile, the Government of Canada will enforce an Interim Order, beginning on January 7th, requiring a negative laboratory test to be presented at foreign airports prior to boarding a flight to Canada. This test must have been taken within 72 hours of departure. All travellers coming to Canada, regardless of citizenship, will be required to have this proof in hand at the time of boarding. Failure to do so will mean an automatic denial of boarding by the air carrier operating the flight to Canada.
  • The Canadian Coast Guard’s annual icebreaking season on the Great Lakes, which provides assistance to the shipping industry, is underway. Working in partnership with the United States Coast Guard (USCG) District 9, the Canadian Coast Guard has two icebreakers assigned to the Great Lakes for the entire winter season: CCGS Griffon and CCGS Samuel Risley. These vessels are supported as required by additional Coast Guard vessels during the spring icebreaking season. All ice surface users should plan their ice activities carefully, use caution on the ice, and avoid shipping lanes and icebreaking operations. Broken and fragmented ice tracks and ridging left behind by passing icebreakers or commercial vessels may not freeze over immediately. This can result in hazardous conditions for ice users. In addition, newly fallen snow will obscure ship tracks. Unsafe ice conditions can persist long after icebreakers have left the area.
  • The number of exporting enterprises in Canada increased by 0.3% to 19,258 in October, following a slight decline in September. Gains were mostly observed among medium- and large-sized enterprises. The number of exporters with 50 or more employees grew by 1.0%, while the number of those with fewer than 50 employees edged up 0.1%. Although the value of exports to the United States went up in October (+2.0%) on a balance of payments basis, fewer enterprises exported to this destination (-0.7%), the first decline since April. By contrast, the number of firms exporting to the United Kingdom, one of Canada’s most important trading partners, was up by 8.2% as a result of more manufacturing exporters. More firms also exported to China and India. rom September to October, the three sectors with the largest increase in the number of exporting establishments were manufacturing (+82); professional, scientific and technical services (+33); and transportation and warehousing (+30).

Reading recommendations

Republicans supporting Donald Trump’s efforts to overturn the U.S. election are on a collision course with U.S. business leaders, as companies reconsider support and funding for politicians they deem to be a threat to national stability. Their action “undermines our democracy and the rule of law,” warned the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, as a small business coalition blasted the “shameful complicity” of elected officials trying to help Trump “undermine the will of the voters.”

There is growing concern that China’s influence in the North could threaten Canada’s autonomy in the region and put politicians in uncomfortable situa­tions as they weigh national regulations with foreign-­policy strategies. Canada has spent decades ignoring its Arctic potential and, as a result, the region’s economy lags far behind that of most other northern regions around the world. Evidently, the Canadian Arctic has not proved such a blind spot for China.

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. These do not represent or predict government policy, but are offered to give you an idea of where Niagara is situated and how likely a relaxation (or further restrictions) may be. This data is drawn daily from Niagara Region. The Grey-Lockdown level does not have specific 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


  • 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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