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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: January 8th, 2021

At a morning news conference held today, Premier Ford stated that the province was ‘in a desperate situation.’
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

  • At a morning news conference held today, Premier Ford stated that the province was “in a desperate situation,” that there could be more serious measures to come, and that, if the situation does not improve, the Provincewide Shutdown will not end at the end of January. So far, the shutdown has proven ineffective in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Ontario. The Premier reiterated the need for the public to follow all public health guidelines. No details of what these more serious measures could include were provided, but examples from other jurisdictions have included curfews, travel bans, restricting movement outside the home to essential purposes only, and closing all those non-essential services currently permitted, such as weddings or childcare.
  • Premier Ford also warned that the province will exhaust its vaccine supply within days. The Government of Canada has committed to vaccinating all willing Canadians by the end of September. To do this, the government will need to supply 100,000 doses per day for the next 265 days. So far, the government has delivered approximately 22,000 doses per day, although this figure is expected to increase as vaccine production and deployment ramp up. So far, the United States has vaccinated three times as many people, per capita, as Canada.
  • Statistics Canada has released labour market data for December, 2020. Tightening anti-COVID measures across the country and the second wave of the pandemic both began to show their effects on the economy, as employment fell by 63,000 (-0.3%) in December—the first decline since April. As might have been expected, employment in accommodation and food services declined for the third consecutive month, falling by 57,000 (-5.8%) in December from the previous month and down by 129,000 (-12.4%) from September. Employment in the services-producing sector fell by 74,000 (-0.5%) in December, also the first decline in the sector since April. Part-time employment declined by 99,000 (-2.9%) in December, led by losses among youth aged 15 to 24 (-58,000; -5.1%) and those aged 55 and older (-27,000; -3.0%). Employment in retail trade edged up by 19,000 (+0.9%) in December. While this pace of growth was slightly lower than in October (+1.4%) and November (+1.5%), it brought the industry to within 2.9% of its pre-COVID employment level.
  • By December, 1.1 million Canadian workers were affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown—in the form of lost employment or reduced hours—compared with 5.5 million in April. Self-employment fell by 62,000 in December, while the number of employees in both the public and private sectors was little changed. Total hours worked declined for the first time since April, falling 0.3% in December. As the number of COVID-19 cases increased in the fall, the share of Canadians working from home trended up, reaching 28.6% in December.
  • The national unemployment rate was 8.6% in December, essentially unchanged from 8.5% in November, but the participation rate declined for the second month in a row in December, falling 0.2 percentage points to 64.9%.
  • In Niagara, analysis by Niagara Workforce Planning Board for December 2020 saw 4,000 people leave employment. 3,500 of these employment losses were among people in full-time employment and 500 were among people in part-time employment. Data such as these, when combined with national-level economic outlooks expecting a hard winter for Canada, suggest the coming months will prove challenging for Niagara as December typically sees employment gains for the region. There were 78.6% more job seekers in Niagara in December 2020 compared to December 2019.
  • Niagara employment statistics:
 Nov 2019Dec 2019Nov 2020Dec 2020
Labour force215,800217,000211,900212,200
Full-time employment158,200158,800146,100142,600
Part-time employment47,00048,00051,70051,200
Participation rate60.1%60.4%58.6%58.6%
Employment rate57.2%57.5%54.7%53.5%
  • Niagara employment by industry:
 November 2019December 2019November 2020December 2020
Wholesale and retail trade30,90032,40024,50024,000
Transportation and warehousing9,2009,5007,1007,300
Finance, insurance, real estate, rental and leasing8,7007,90012,60010,600
Professional, scientific and technical services7,8006,80010,3009,600
Business, building and other support services 9,90010,50013,60013,100
Educational services15,70015,80016,00015,800
Health care and social assistance21,10022,00026,00025,900
Information, culture and recreation11,60011,7006,8007,100
Accommodation and food services24,80025,50019,40017,200
Other services (except public administration)10,30010,60010,80010,700
Public administration9,2008,6006,3006,700
  • The Government of Ontario today reiterated its promise of a new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to help eligible small business owners who needed to close or significantly restrict their services during the shutdown. The government states that applications will open in January, but made no further details available at this time.
  • The Township of West Lincoln is accepting applications from local non-profit organizations for consideration under its 2021 Corporate Sponsorship Fund program. Applications may be submitted until February 22nd, 2021 at 4:30 p.m. Interested organizations may apply here.

Reading recommendations

In most countries, men and women doing the same work earn different amounts. This discrimination is popularly known as the gender pay gap. And despite efforts to close it, particularly amongst advanced industrial countries, it persists. Part of the problem is that policy solutions to eradicate unequal pay have focused on changing individual workers’ behavior. More often than not, women are tasked with entering male-dominated professions; or female employees are expected to more effectively assert themselves in the workplace. There may be a better way.

I don’t believe a self-pardon’s gonna fly. I don’t mean to say that President Donald Trump will not attempt it. He very well might. I also don’t mean to say that it won’t be a big deal if and when he does attempt it. It will be a very big deal. I mean, rather, that a self-pardon will not materially decrease the likelihood of his attempted prosecution by the Justice Department after he leaves office, and may even increase the chances of his indictment.

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 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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