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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: June 5th, 2020

Information on government grants, resources, and programs, and how to apply for them, is available here.
The Government of Canada has a support page with summaries of current programs and application portals.

Vital updates:

  • Statistics Canada today released data from the May, 2020 Labour Force Survey. To fully measure the shock to the Canadian labour market resulting from the COVID-19 economic shutdown, a series of survey enhancements were introduced in April and continued in May, including additional questions on: working from home; concerns related to job loss; capacity to meet financial obligations; and applications to federal COVID-19 assistance programs.
    • The unemployment rate was 13.7% in May, the highest rate recorded since comparable data became available in 1976. In February, prior to the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the unemployment rate was 5.6%. It increased to 7.8% in March and 13.0% in April. In May, unemployment grew more slowly (+201,000; +8.3%) than in the previous two months and there was little change in the number of people on temporary layoff. Growth in unemployment was driven instead by an increase in job seekers, especially re-entrants to the labour force who had worked within the past year (not seasonally adjusted).
    • From February to April, 5.5 million Canadian workers were affected by the COVID-19 economic shutdown. This included a drop in employment of 3.0 million and a COVID-19-related increase in absences from work of 2.5 million. In May, employment rose by 290,000 (+1.8%), while the number of people who worked less than half their usual hours dropped by 292,000 (-8.6%). Combined, these changes in the labour market represented a recovery of 10.6% of the COVID-19-related employment losses and absences recorded in the previous two months. Three-quarters of the employment gains from April to May were in full-time work (+219,000 or +1.6%). Compared with February, full-time employment was down 11.1% in May, while part-time work was down 27.6%.
    • The number of Canadians who worked at least half their usual hours and who worked from home was little changed at 4.9 million, as those who were able to work from home continued to do so.
    • Ontario was the only province where employment continued to fall in May. This is consistent with the fact that most restrictions on economic activity remained in place in Ontario during the LFS reference week of May 10 to May 16. While employment declined in Ontario in May (-65,000), it did so at a much slower pace than in March (-403,000) and April (-689,000). All of the employment decline in the province in May was in the services-producing sector (-80,000). At the same time, employment rose by 15,000 in the goods-producing sector, driven by manufacturing (+14,000).
    • The unemployment rate in the St. Catharines-Niagara CMA continued to rise, reaching 13% in May, up from 10.7% in April and 8.6% in March. However, unlike provincial or national data, it is important to note that CMA-level data is based on a three-month rolling average, meaning that the “May” numbers are actually a product of March, April, and May’s data. Thus, what appears to be growing unemployment could also merely be data reporting “catching up” to the reality on the ground.
  • The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has released its Roadmap to Recovery, developed in partnership with the Canadian Business Resilience Network’s vast network of over 450 chambers of commerce and boards of trade and more than 100 of Canada’s leading business and industry associations. The Roadmap lays out nine policy areas and specific measures that our political leaders must start considering to help ensure a sharp and lasting recovery.
  • The Government of Ontario is allowing short-term rentals to re-open, beginning today. Under Ontario’s Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act, short-term rentals — defined as 28 days or less — were previously only allowed to be rented to people in need of emergency housing. A spokesperson for the Premier’s office, however, stated that regions concerned about public health would be free to enact their own restrictions locally. Owners of short-term rental properties should check regularly for changes to municipal regulations.
  • The Prime Minister today announced support to help Canadians with disabilities deal with extra expenses during the pandemic. This support includes a special one-time, tax-free payment to individuals who are certificate holders of the Disability Tax Credit as of June 1, 2020, as follows:
    • $600 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate.
    • $300 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the Old Age Security (OAS) pension.
    • $100 for Canadians with a valid Disability Tax Credit certificate and who are eligible for the OAS pension and the Guaranteed Income Supplement (GIS).
  • In his daily address, Premier Ford announced that more details of Stage Two of Ontario’s re-opening would be shared early next week, although he stressed that this stage would not be implemented immediately. He also stated that he was not supportive of the initiative to give all Canadians ten paid sick days, which the GNCC opposes on the grounds of cost to businesses, and would prefer to see money invested in municipal governments instead.

Reading recommendations:


If you are showing symptoms, you must self-isolate for a minimum of 14 days. Call a public health authority immediately. Do not visit any healthcare provider in person before you have been directly advised to by public health authorities.

It is important that everyone practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Remain at home unless absolutely necessary. Minimize contact with other people. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Avoid touching the face. Maintain a 2-meter distance from others if you are required to be out in public. If you have recently traveled outside the country, you are legally required to self-isolate for 14 days.

Previous updates can be accessed here.

Stay safe and be vigilant. The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.