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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: March 20th, 2020, 4pm

New Developments and Information 

The GNCC is committed to bringing timely information and updates on the business impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Today’s vital updates: 

  • From midnight tonight, the Canadian-U.S. border will be closed to non-essential travel. Trade and key supplies will continue to flow, as will people crossing for essential work.
  • Temporary foreign workers will be permitted to enter Canada, as will international students and workers on visas, but are requested to self-isolate for 14 days after arrival.
  • The Government of Canada is appealing to businesses that can supply equipment, supplies, or services to help with their COVID-19 response, or which can re-tool to supply them. If your business falls into these categories, please contact
  • The Niagara Regional Business Licensing Office is closed to the public. Services are being provided Monday to Friday, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. by phone and email at 905-980-6000 ext. 6380 and  
  • The City of St. Catharines has: 
    • Introduced a grace period on taxes and bills. Until June 30, businesses and residents will not be charged late fees or interest penalties on water and tax payments, and accounts receivable.  
    • Suspended parking payments for on-street and municipal lots. 
  • The City of Niagara Falls will not charge interest or penalties on overdue tax bills, and will not be shutting off electricity or water. Details of the policy will be given shortly. 
  • The Town of Lincoln will suspend late fees and penalties on property taxes, water payments, and accounts receivable until June 30. Water disconnections have been suspended. 

The GNCC is lobbying for additional measures to help businesses through the COVID-19 crisis. Some of these are: 

  • Delivery and take-out beverage alcohol be permitted for restaurants and food-service establishments. 
  • Rent relief for individuals and businesses, allowing them to continue to rent their premises while still providing revenue to lessors. 
  • Property tax deferrals to be offered by all Niagara municipal governments. 
  • More financial assistance for self-employed and non-EI-eligible Canadians who are not covered by existing relief programs. 

We are working on other initiatives as well, and will have more information when details on these policies have been settled. 

Employment Ontario (EO) offices are available to help people out of work. The following offices can help any of your employees who have been laid off: 

  • CERF Niagara (Francophone Provider for Niagara Region)  
  • Employment Help Centre Niagara Falls 
    • Janet Adams, Job Developer; 905-358-0021 ext 31  
  • Employment Help Centre West Niagara (Grimsby, Beamsville, Smithville) 
  • Employment Solutions Welland 
  • John Howard Society Niagara Job Gym Welland & Fort Erie  
  • Niagara College Community Employment Services St. Catharines 
  • Port Cares Employment Services Port Colborne  
  • YMCA of Niagara Employment and Immigrant Services St. Catharines, Niagara Falls & Thorold 

Previously-posted information 

News and updates from previous bulletins are included here for your convenience. 

The Government of Canada announced a relief package for individuals and businesses this morning. These measures will: 

  • Allow all businesses to defer the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020, until after August 31, 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period. This measure will result in businesses having more money available during this period. 
  • Increase the credit available to small, medium, and large Canadian businesses. As announced on March 13, a new Business Credit Availability Program will provide more than $10 billion of additional support to businesses experiencing cash flow challenges through the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada. The Government is ready to provide more capital through these financial Crown corporations. 
  • Further expand Export Development Canada’s ability to provide support to domestic businesses.  
  • Provide flexibility on the Canada Account limit, to allow the Government to provide additional support to Canadian businesses, when deemed to be in the national interest, to deal with exceptional circumstances. 
  • Augment credit available to farmers and the agri-food sector through Farm Credit Canada. 
  • Launch an Insured Mortgage Purchase Program to purchase up to $50 billion of insured mortgage pools through the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC). As announced on March 16, this will provide stable funding to banks and mortgage lenders and support continued lending to Canadian businesses and consumers. CMHC stands ready to further support liquidity and the stability of the financial markets through its mortgage funding programs as necessary. The Government will enable these measures by raising CMHC’s legislative limits to guarantee securities and insure mortgages by $150 billion each. 
  • Provide eligible small businesses a 10 per cent wage subsidy for the next 90 days, up to a maximum of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Employers benefiting from this measure would include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as not-for-profit organizations and charities. This will help employers keep people on their payroll and help Canadians keep their jobs. 

Accessing credit can be done through the BDC’s website. Farms and agri-food businesses can access credit through Farm Credit Canada. 

The package also contained support for workers that would: 

  • Provide additional assistance to families with children by temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments. This measure would deliver almost $2 billion in extra support. 
  • Introduce an Emergency Care Benefit of up to $900 bi-weekly for up to 15 weeks to provide income support to workers who must stay home and do not have access to paid sick leave. This measure could provide up to $10 billion to Canadians, and includes: 
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are sick, quarantined, or who have been directed to self-isolate but do not qualify for Employment Insurance (EI) sickness benefits. 
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent or other dependents who are sick, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits. 
  • EI-eligible and non EI-eligible working parents who must stay home without pay because of children who are sick or who need additional care because of school closures. 
  • Introduce an Emergency Support Benefit delivered through the Canada Revenue Agency to provide up to $5 billion in support to workers who are not eligible for EI and who are facing unemployment. 
  • Provide additional assistance to individuals and families with low and modest incomes with a special top-up payment under the Goods and Services Tax (GST) credit. This measure would inject $5.5 billion in the economy. 
  • Waive the mandatory one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits, for a minimum of six months, for workers in imposed quarantine or who have been directed to self-isolate, as announced on March 11. 

Your employees can access these programs and get more information from Service Canada. 

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