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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: November 19th, 2020

Niagara Regional Council unanimously supported a motion from St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik calling upon Niagara Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji to amend his recent order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act.
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:

  • Niagara Regional Council unanimously supported a motion from St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik calling upon Niagara Acting Medical Officer of Health Dr. Mustafa Hirji to amend his recent order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act. The requested amendment would remove the directive that restaurants only seat people from the same household together. The GNCC has called for the order to be rescinded. It should be noted, however, that Regional Council does not have the authority to amend or enforce Dr. Hirji’s order, which can only be done by the Health Services Appeal and Review Board. A decision by the Board can, in turn, only be appealed to the Divisional Court of Ontario. Only a person or a member of a class affected by the order can appeal to the Board.
  • The Ontario government is investing over $2.2 million through the Ontario Together Fund to provide small businesses with free, tailored financial advice and online training to help them make informed financial decisions and navigate the unprecedented economic circumstances brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The funding includes $2,040,000 to support Ontario’s 47 Small Business Enterprise Centres (SBEC) led by the Business Advisory Centre Durham to create a new Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network, $131,000 for Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada to develop and deliver a four-part COVID-19-specific financial literacy tool kit for small businesses, and $51,000 for Financial Advisors Association of Canada, a non-profit association of financial advisors, to provide pro-bono professional financial advice for small companies through its online platform, Advocis Connect.
  • Ontario is now accepting applications from municipalities for funding of local infrastructure projects under the COVID-19 Resilience stream of the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program. Under this new stream, which was first announced by Minister McKenna on August 5, 2020, the federal government will cover up to 80 per cent of eligible project costs in provinces and 100 per cent for territorial and Indigenous projects. In Ontario this stream represents up to $1.1 billion in funding and will support a wide range of pandemic-resilient projects like upgrading schools and long-term care homes with things like HVAC and physical distancing measures, or building new parks, cycling and walking paths to help Canadians get outside and stay active.
  • Today, the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, the Honourable Jonathan Wilkinson, tabled the Canadian Net-Zero Emissions Accountability Act in the House of Commons. The Act will do the following:
    • Legally bind the Government to a process to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.
    • Set rolling five-year emissions-reduction targets and require plans to reach each one and report on progress.
    • Establish the Net-Zero Advisory Body to provide independent advice to the Government on the best pathway to reach its targets.
    • Require the Government of Canada to publish an annual report describing how departments and crown corporations are considering the financial risks and opportunities of climate change in their decision-making.
    • Enshrine greater accountability and public transparency into Canada’s plan for meeting net-zero emissions by 2050.
    • Provide for independent third-party review by the Commissioner of the Environment and Sustainable Development to ensure accountability for all future governments.
  • St. Catharines is moving ahead with its Transportation Master Plan (TMP) and is now seeking public input. A Transportation Master Plan is a long-range strategy that will ultimately guide the future of transportation within St. Catharines to support community growth. Designed as a strategy to assist City staff to proactively plan for the future of the City, the TMP supports infrastructure implementation, behaviour change and policy directions. To-date, the City has gathered input from interactive online engagement tools, engagement pop-ups at Brock University, working sessions with internal and external stakeholders and public input sessions. The draft TMP recommendations will be presented to the community on Dec. 3, 2020, via an online meeting, which the City will stream on YouTube.
  • New data published by Statistics Canada in the Canadian Survey on Business Conditions (CSBC) reveals that businesses in the food service and accommodation industry have laid off staff at nearly double the rate of other businesses (62.1% versus the national average of 36.5%). Worryingly, this places restaurants and hotels 15 points worse-off than any other industry. Looking forward, 22.5% of businesses in accommodation and food services also expect to decrease their staffing levels over the next three months, which is more than double the national average (10.4%). While these businesses reported they had applied for a number of government supports, less than a quarter (23%) were approved for CECRA, the previous commercial rent support program. For more data on how the food services industry has been impacted by COVID-19, click here.
  • The U.K. and Canada are on the brink of signing a new trade agreement to replace the existing deal Britain has through European Union membership. An announcement is expected within days, according to people familiar with the matter who spoke on condition they not be identified. The U.K. is Canada’s third-largest export market after the U.S. and China. In the first nine months of this year, Canada has exported C$14 billion ($10.7 billion) in merchandise exports to the U.K., while it imported C$6.9 billion. Last year, Canada was the U.K.’s 15th-largest export market.

Reading recommendations:

According to the latest findings of the Worldwide Cost of Living Survey from The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU), the French capital has the highest living costs in the world. Hong Kong and Zurich share the top spot in the survey, which compares the prices of nearly 140 products and services in 133 cities around the world. The results are primarily used by firms to negotiate appropriate compensation when relocating staff, but they also reveal the myriad ways covid-19 is affecting the cost of living.

When US National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases director Anthony Fauci tells Congress, as he did in July, that he’s optimistic a vaccine will be ready in late 2020 or early 2021, it’s tempting to imagine that as the moment when we can once again engage in all the activities that remain laced with fear, like hopping a plane, or seeing a concert, or hugging a grandpa. An effective vaccine represents an enormous, exciting move in that direction. But it’s not the pandemic finish line—it’s more like a pandemic off-ramp.

Niagara Economic Summit Series 2020

Where are we now, how did we get here, and where do we go? This year’s summit, taking place between November 10 and November 24, brings experts and leaders together from across the country to identify where we are economically, what our future opportunities are, and how we can seize them. Find out more and get a calendar save-the-date here.


 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.