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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: May 22nd, 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:

  • Prime Minister Trudeau and Deputy Prime Minister Freeland held their tenth First Ministers’ call with the premiers about the COVID-19 pandemic. The leaders spoke about coordinated actions being taken by federal, provincial, and territorial partners to protect the health and safety of all Canadians and to support workers and businesses. They discussed an approach based on increased testing capacity, timely and complete contact tracing, and data and information sharing. This approach will help ensure that all regions of the country are testing at a sufficient level, and reinforce testing with effective contact tracing and data sharing in order to contain future outbreaks. The Prime Minister provided an update on the extension of the border restrictions with the United States until June 21. First Ministers welcomed this decision, which will help keep people on both sides of the border safe. First Ministers underscored the ongoing need for strong public health measures at the border, given that essential and business travel continues in order to preserve vital supply chains between our two countries.
  • The Government of Canada has launched a new, streamlined online tool to help people find and obtain the emergency benefits being offered. With so many simultaneous programs, this initiative is welcome. Individuals can access the tool here. Businesses can access a similar tool here.
  • The Ontario government is funding 15 high-quality and promising proposals that were submitted in response to a recent call for proposals for the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund. These 15 proposals are the first to receive funding from the Ontario COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund, with additional projects expected to be announced in the coming weeks. Projects were evaluated by a peer review committee. The selection process for these types of projects typically takes up to eighteen weeks to complete. For these projects the selection process was shortened to two weeks while maintaining the same high-quality and independent process that leveraged the expertise of researchers to evaluate. Over 54,000 users have visited the SPARK Ontario website to learn how they can volunteer, and over 3,500 civic-minded Ontarians from across the province have signed up on the site to volunteer.
  • The Binational Prosperity Initiative, including leadership drawn from industry associations, economic development agencies, the public sector, corporations engaged in cross- border commerce, bridge operators, academia and the policy community, has sent a letter (PDF link) to the U.S. Senator for New York urging the following actions:
    • Rather than a “one size fits all” approach,the United States and Canada should consider a cross-border regional approach to reopening the border.
    • The United States and Canada should utilize the Regulatory Cooperation Council (RCC) to reduce unnecessary regulatory differences related to medical supply and other critical industries.
    • Given that both the United States and Canada may incorporate “Buy American” or “Buy Canadian” provisions into the next rounds of stimulus funding, US legislators should incorporate a Canadian exemption into “Buy American” legislation and Canadian legislators should incorporate a US exemption into “Buy Canadian” legislation.
    • It is important for economic recovery in both the United States and Canada that the USMCA/CUSMA enter into force July 1, 2020.
    • The United States and Canada should invest in border technology to ensure that border crossers are healthy and promote economic recovery.
    • The United States and Canada should expand the marketing of NEXUS as one solution to “touchless” processing at the border.
    • Border operators, such as the Buffalo and Fort Erie Public Bridge Authority (Peace Bridge) and Niagara Falls Bridge Commission (NFBC) should receive Federal and/or State-Provincial assistance in order to maintain operations.
  • The Government of Ontario is permitting Ontario corporations to conduct virtual meetings and to defer certain annual meetings in specified circumstances and is allowing the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services to accept copies of documents, electronic signatures on documents, and electronic filing of documents. These changes are part of COVID-19 Response and Reforms to Modernize Ontario Act, 2020.
  • The Government of Ontario is providing an Ontario Tools Grant of $2.5 million in 2020-21 and $7.5 million in 2021-22 and ongoing. This will help new eligible apprentices purchase the equipment they need to start their careers. The funding amounts will be distributed as follows:
    • $1,000 for those in motive power sector trades;
    • $600 for those in construction and industrial sector trades;
    • $400 for those in service sector trades.
  • To be eligible for the new grant, apprentices must have:
    • completed level 1 training on or after April 1, 2020;
    • an active registered training agreement; and
    • been registered as an apprentice for at least 12 months.
  • The Government of Ontario is also investing nearly $2 million to open a Virtual Action Centre in partnership with UNITE HERE Local 75. This virtual job training resource will provide up to 7,000 unemployed workers in the hospitality sector with access to a wide range of services and supports online and over the phone, including:
    • Stress management and mental health resources through video conferencing;
    • Immediate health and safety online training for workers who return to work at designated quarantined sites;
    • Technical skills online training;
    • Online training to upgrade English language and digital skills;
    • Peer group facilitation and employment preparation through videoconferencing.

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.