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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: November 6th, 2020

As of Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the Niagara public health unit region will be moved to the Yellow-Protect level of the new provincial COVID-19 response framework.
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:

  • As of Saturday, November 7, 2020 at 12:01 a.m., the Niagara public health unit region will be moved to the Yellow-Protect level of the new provincial COVID-19 response framework. The higher levels of restriction for businesses under the “protect” level would include:
    • Limiting operating hours and closing establishments at midnight
    • Liquor to be served or sold between 9am and 11pm only
    • No consumption of liquor between 12am and 9am
    • Contact information required for all seated patrons
    • No more than six people seated together
    • Volume of music to be limited to conversational level
    • Safety plans to be prepared and provided upon request
    • Face coverings required at sport and recreational facilities except when exercising
    • Increase spacing between patrons to 3m for areas of a sport or recreational facility where there are weights/weight machines and exercise/fitness classes
    • Recreational programs limited to 10 people per room indoors and 25 outdoors
    • Require contact information for all patrons and attendance for team sports
    • Require appointments for entry; one reservation for teams
  • The Government of Ontario has released its 2020 budget, which sets out a total of $45 billion in support over three years to individuals, businesses, and health systems. There will be a total of $187 billion in spending this year, with $38.5 billion of that being deficit spending, and no path to fiscal balance included. The government has stated that a plan for returning to fiscal balance will follow by the end of March, 2021.
  • The government is making available $300 million in relief for eligible businesses in regions where the Province determines modified Stage 2 public health restrictions are necessary, or going forward, in areas categorized as Control or Lockdown. This is intended to help cover fixed costs such as property taxes and energy bills. The government is also providing an additional $1.8 billion in the Support for People and Jobs Fund over the next two years. It also plans to reduce electricity prices and “taxes on jobs,” connect unserved and underserved communities through investment in broadband infrastructure, and provide more workers with skills training. It has earmarked $4.8 billion for these investments.
  • Provincial business property tax rates will be lowered to a rate of 0.88 per cent for 94 per cent of all business properties in the province, saving businesses an estimated total of $450 million in 2021.
  • The Government of Ontario is also proposing to provide municipalities with the ability to cut property tax for small businesses, with a provincial commitment to consider matching these reductions. This could provide small businesses as much as $385 million in total municipal and provincial property tax relief by 2022-23, depending on municipal adoption.
  • The province is also ending a tax on jobs for an additional 30,000 employers by proposing to make permanent the Employer Health Tax (EHT) exemption increase from $490,000 to $1 million. This would save private-sector employers an estimated $360 million in 2021-22. The government reports that approximately 90 per cent of employers would pay no EHT with this additional relief.
  • From January 1, 2021, a portion of the cost of renewable energy contracts will be funded by the Province. This funding aims to reduce electricity bills for medium-size and larger industrial and commercial employers by about 14 and 16 per cent respectively, on average.
  • $100 million is allocated over two years for the Community Building Fund to support community tourism, cultural and sport organizations, as well as one-time emergency funding of $25 million for Ontario’s arts institutions to help cover operating losses incurred as a result of COVID-19. Ontario residents will be provided with support of up to 20 per cent for eligible Ontario tourism expenses to encourage tourist activity in 2021.
  • $7.5 billion will be spent on the healthcare sector over the next three years, with an additional $2.5 billion for hospitals to be spent next year than was spent this year. However, the government’s previous promise of four hours of direct care for every Ontario long-term care resident was not delivered. The government stated that it needed to conduct further consultations with stakeholders before providing more information on this policy.
  • Families will receive $200 for each child under 12 years old, or $250 for children with special needs under 21 years old, for education costs. Home renovations to increase accessibility for seniors will be eligible for a 25% tax credit on up to $10,000 of expenses.
  • On October 9, the Government of Canada proposed the new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy to provide direct relief to businesses, non-profits, and charities that continue to be economically impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic. The new rent subsidy would be available retroactive to September 27, 2020, until June 2021. The government is providing the proposed details for the first 12 weeks of the program, until December 19, 2020. The proposed program would, in many ways, mirror the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy. The new rent subsidy would provide benefits directly to qualifying renters and property owners, without requiring the participation of landlords. This backgrounder provides information for organizations that have experienced a revenue decline and may qualify for the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy.
  • Statistics Canada has released its monthly Labour Force Survey Data for September. The unemployment rate declined for the fourth consecutive month in September, falling 1.2 percentage points to 9.0%. As a result of the COVID-19 economic shutdown, the unemployment rate more than doubled from 5.6% in February to a record high 13.7% in May. By way of comparison, during the 2008/2009 recession, the unemployment rate rose from 6.2% in October 2008 to peak at 8.7% in June 2009. It then took approximately nine years to return to its pre-recession rate. The Canadian Chamber of Commerce has urged governments to create significant reskilling and upskilling programs for those long-term unemployed Canadians who do not have jobs to go back to, noting that today’s numbers also demonstrate that there are more prolonged effects to our labour force as long-term unemployment – individuals unemployed for 27 weeks or longer – has seen the sharpest increase in recorded history.
  • Employment rose by 378,000 (+2.1%) in September, bringing employment to within 720,000 (-3.7%) of its pre-COVID February level. Most of the employment increase in September was in full-time work, which rose by 334,000 (+2.1%), building on gains of 206,000 (+1.4%) in August. The number of Canadians who were employed but worked less than half their usual hours for reasons likely related to COVID-19 fell by 108,000 (-7.1%) in September. Among Canadians who worked most of their usual hours, the proportion working from home edged down from August to September, from 26.4% to 25.6%. There were 1.8 million unemployed Canadians in September, down 214,000 (-10.5%) from August and continuing the four-month downward trend from the record-high 2.6 million unemployed people in May. The majority of unemployed people (approximately 1.5 million) were looking for work.
  • In services, monthly gains were led by accommodation and food services (+72,000), educational services (+68,000) as well as information, culture and recreation (+56,000). In the goods sector, employment gains were largest in manufacturing (+68,000). Employment was 3.6% below its pre-COVID February level in the services sector, and 4.3% below in the goods-producing sector. Employment in construction remained little changed for the second consecutive month in September, and was down by 120,000 (-8.1%) compared with its pre-COVID level.
  • The labour market impact of the COVID-19 economic shutdown has been particularly severe for low-wage employees (defined as those who earned less than $16.03 per hour, or two-thirds of the 2019 annual median wage of $24.04/hour). From February to April, employment among low-wage employees fell by 38.1%, compared with a decline of 12.7% for all other paid employees (not seasonally adjusted). Employment increased among youth aged 15 to 24 in September, including gains for young women (+62,000; +5.7%) and young men (+66,000; +6.0%). Despite these monthly increases, employment remained further from full recovery for youth than for other major age groups, with female youth employment being 10.4% below February levels and male youth being 10.2% below.
  • Employment in Ontario increased by 168,000 in September (+2.4%), largely in full-time work, and building on gains of 670,000 over the previous three months. The largest employment gains in September were in accommodation and food services, manufacturing, and educational services. The unemployment rate fell 1.1 percentage points to 9.5%, the fourth consecutive monthly decline.
  • Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB) reports that in Niagara, while there are some positive indicators in the data, there are nevertheless deeper challenges with Niagara’s post-COVID recovery. Month-over-month, October 2020 saw 6,300 more people in employment. However, all of those employment gains were in part-time work. Although Niagara’s unemployment rate fell to 7.2% in October 2020, it is still well above the 5.0% that we saw this time last year. Compared to October 2019, October 2020 sees 9,300 fewer people in full-time employment and 3,100 more people in part-time employment. While women saw the majority of Niagara’s employment gains in October of 2020, the vast majority of those gains were in part-time work. The youth unemployment rate fell to 19.3% in October 2020 from 25.5% in September 2020; however, this rate is well above seasonal norms. NWPB’s full report will be available on Monday.
  • Niagara labour force characteristics 2019 2020
    Sept 2019 Oct 2019 Sept 2020 Oct 2020
    Labour force 215,500 215,000 210,200 213,400
    Employment 203,100 204,300 191,800 198,100
    Full-time employment 158,300 158,500 150,000 149,200
    Part-time employment 44,900 45,800 41,800 48,900
    Unemployment 12,300 10,700 18,400 15,300
    Unemployment rate 5.7% 5.0% 8.8% 7.2%
    Participation rate 60.2% 60.0% 58.1% 59.0%
    Employment rate 56.7% 57.0% 53.1% 54.8%
  • Niagara labour force characteristics (youth aged 15-24
    2019 2020
    Sept 2019 Oct 2019 Sept 2020 Oct 2020
    Labour force 35,800 33,000 30,200 27,000
    Employment 31,700 28,900 22,500 21,800
    Full-time employment 18,400 15,500 13,300 11,500
    Part-time employment 13,300 13,400 9,200 10,400
    Unemployment 4,100 4,000 7,700 5,200
    Unemployment rate 11.5% 12.1% 25.5% 19.3%
    Participation rate 71.6% 67.1% 71.9% 69.1%
    Employment rate 63.4% 58.7% 53.6% 55.8%
  • To gain more insight on COVID-19’s impact on the retail sector, Niagara Workforce Planning Board (NWPB) is conducting one-on-one engagements and focus groups with local retailers. If you are a local retailer and would like to participate, please contact NWPB Project Manager Thalia Semplonius at
  • The Atelier Collective has upped the ante for their second digital conference, held on November 12, with expanded programming to include two tracks: one for tenacious entrepreneurs who are looking to expand their business in a year of significant change and one for ambitious women in careers who are looking to climb and adapt to the new work environment. Click here to learn more.

Reading recommendations:

  • Canada’s job gains slow as some provinces grapple with second wave, Bianca Bharti, Financial Post

    • Canadian businesses added 84,000 jobs in October compared with 378,000 the month before, signalling a marked slowdown in economic growth as some provinces reinstated COVID-19 restrictions to fight a surging second wave. The unemployment rate slipped to 8.9 per cent from nine per cent in September, the lowest it has been since the pandemic-high of 13.7 per cent in May that captured the effects of a government-triggered recession at the beginning of spring, Statistics Canada said on Friday.
  • To stay or cut away? As Trump makes baseless claims, TV networks are faced with a serious dilemma, Denis Muller, The Conversation
    • In the United States, democratic norms are breaking down. The president, Donald Trump, baselessly claimed at a White House press conference on Friday morning, Australian time, that the presidential election has been stolen from him by fraudulent and corrupt electoral processes. This confronted the television networks, whose job is to report the news, with an acute dilemma. In an already volatile political atmosphere, do they go on reporting these lies, laced with an undertone of veiled incitement to violence? Or do they cut away on the grounds that by continuing to broadcast this stuff, they are helping to propagate lies and perhaps to oxygenate a threat to the civil peace?


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.

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