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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: January 7th, 2021

Niagara Health has described vaccine delivery in Niagara as “imminent.” The region’s first Vaccination Clinic will be housed in a temporary structure next to the Walker Family Cancer Centre at Niagara Health’s St. Catharines Site. The Clinic will operate by appointment only and will not initially be open to the general public.
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 COVID-19 cases continue to rise at an alarming rate throughout the province, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is extending online teacher-led learning until January 25, 2021 for elementary school students in the 27 Southern Ontario public health unit regions. In-person learning will be deferred to January 25, 2021 in Southern Ontario, which aligns with the planned return of in-person learning for secondary school students in these regions. The positivity rate for children aged 12-13 years old increased from 5.44 per cent in late November and early December to nearly 20 per cent in early January. In the nearly two weeks since Ontario was moved into a Provincewide Shutdown, trends in key public health indicators have continued to worsen in both Northern and Southern Ontario, including concerning trends in health system capacity, most notably in hospitals.
  • Niagara Health has described vaccine delivery in Niagara as “imminent.” Workers in long-term care and retirement home facilities and essential caregivers will be the first groups to receive the vaccine as per the prioritization framework developed by the Province of Ontario. Niagara Health staff and physicians most at risk of exposure to COVID-19 will also be scheduled for vaccination in a process beginning with this first shipment. The region’s first Vaccination Clinic will be housed in a temporary structure next to the Walker Family Cancer Centre at Niagara Health’s St. Catharines Site. The Clinic will operate by appointment only and will not initially be open to the general public.
  • In November, a new Statistics Canada report shows, Canada’s merchandise exports increased 0.5%, with gold exports posting the largest increase. Imports edged down 0.3%, on lower imports of industrial machinery, equipment and parts. As a result, Canada’s merchandise trade deficit with the world narrowed from $3.7 billion in October, to $3.3 billion in November. Despite this growth, 7 out of 11 product sections posted declines. Non-energy exports increased 0.2% to $39.9 billion, $129 million shy of their February levels. In real (or volume) terms, total exports rose 0.9%.
    • Exports of metal ores and non-metallic minerals (+26.0%) also rose significantly in November. Increases in exports of copper ores (+84.6%) and iron ores (+26.0%) both contributed strongly to the growth in this product section. These increases were offset in part by lower exports of motor vehicles and parts (-4.1%). After a 7.2% decrease in October, exports of passenger cars and light trucks (-4.0%) fell again in November. Exports of engines and parts (-4.4%) were also down, coinciding with lower motor vehicle production in the United States. Exports of forestry products and building and packaging materials (-6.2%) also declined in November. This was primarily the result of lower exports of lumber (-11.6%), which were down mainly on lower prices. Imports of industrial machinery, equipment and parts decreased 3.9% in November to $5.3 billion—the second decline in seven months. Since the 21.3% decrease in April, imports of industrial machinery and equipment have increased 28.0%.
    • The divergent trend between Canada’s trade with the United States versus Canada’s trade with other countries continued in November. Total trade with countries other than the United States was up 2.1% in November, reaching a record $33.1 billion. Total trade with the United States decreased 1.0% to $63.8 billion—the lowest level since June. In November, exports to countries other than the United States rose 7.4%, a sixth increase in the last seven months. The United Kingdom was by far the largest contributor to the growth in Canada’s exports to non-US countries—the result of higher exports of refined gold.
    • Following two consecutive monthly declines, imports of medical and protective goods increased 6.7% in November to $3.3 billion on a customs basis. Higher imports of diagnostic products (+35.4%) and medical equipment and products (+8.8%) were moderated by lower imports of personal protective equipment (-8.9%) and disinfectant and sterilization products (-14.8%).

Reading recommendations

One of the surprises of the rise in work from home amid the pandemic is that workers’ productivity has remained strong. However, there’s also a perceived cost in long-term productivity, corporate culture, and innovation and creativity, according to a report from real estate services firm Cushman & Wakefield based on a focus group and survey insights from large building owners and business improvement district executive directors in major U.S. markets.

CIBC Deputy Chief Economist Benjamin Tal thinks the Bank of Canada should be getting concerned about the atypical strength in the Canadian dollar. Tal said the broad-market weakness of the American dollar has pushed the loonie to dizzying heights, carrying with it potential headaches for the domestic export sector and economy.

Major social media and e-commerce companies moved to further control outgoing U.S. President Donald Trump’s ability to post on their platforms Thursday after his followers stormed the Capitol building in Washington, D.C., a day earlier. Social media services, including Twitter, Facebook and Snapchat, froze the president’s accounts temporarily on Wednesday after he repeated baseless claims about election interference. Initial freezes on all platforms were for between 12 and 24 hours, but Facebook took the temporary ban one step further on Thursday, announcing his accounts will be frozen at least for the remainder of his term, and possibly longer.

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.

 October 30November 6November 13November 20
Reproductive number11.31.10.8
New cases per 100,00025.940.342.631.5
New cases per day (not including outbreaks)13.419.420.918.3
Percent of hospital beds occupied103.1%93.3%100.3%96.3%
Percent of intensive care beds occupied84.9%83.3%86.4%86.4%
Percentage of positive tests2.6%3.6%3.5%2.7%


  • 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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