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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: October 20th, 2020

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:

  • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending most orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA). This extension will be in effect until November 21, 2020. The list of orders under the ROA that have been extended can be found online on the Government of Ontario’s website. Orders in effect under the ROA have been extended by 30 days with the following exceptions:
  • The Ontario government is introducing the Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020, that if passed, will provide liability protection for workers, volunteers and organizations that make an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and laws relating to exposure to COVID-19. Legal action against intentional misconduct and gross negligence will still be allowed. The proposed legislation also includes changes to the Municipal Elections Act, 1996 that would remove the option to use ranked ballots for municipal council elections. If passed, the Supporting Ontario’s Recovery Act, 2020 will provide targeted protection for those who are making an honest effort to follow public health guidelines and laws, including:
    • Healthcare workers and institutions;
    • Frontline workers who serve the public everywhere from grocery stores to restaurants and retail stores;
    • Businesses and their employees;
    • Charities, non-profit organizations; and
    • Coaches, volunteers and minor sports associations.
  • Today, during Small Business Week, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced an investment of $12 million to support the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund. Through the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund, grants up to $5,000 are available to small businesses so they can cover the costs of physical modifications to their businesses to meet local health and safety requirements. The grant can also be used to help firms with the cost of Personal Protection Equipment and enhance their e-commerce capabilities so they can do more business online. Canadian small businesses can learn more and apply for the grant online.
  • The United States Justice Department has filed suit against Google for antitrust violations, alleging that it abused its dominance in online search and advertising to stifle competition and harm consumers. The lawsuit marks the U.S. government’s most significant act to protect competition since its groundbreaking case against Microsoft more than 20 years ago. It could be an opening salvo ahead of other major government antitrust actions, given ongoing investigations of major tech companies including Apple, Amazon and Facebook at both the Justice Department and the Federal Trade Commission. Google controls about 90 per cent of global web searches.
  • Standard & Poor’s Global Ratings (S&P) has reaffirmed Niagara Region’s “AA” credit rating and stable outlook. The rating agency noted that the Region benefits from manageable debt levels and very ample liquidity, despite challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, S&P also forecasts an economic recovery in Niagara that will be slower than in other regions. Niagara Region’s focus on long-term strategic and financial planning is well documented and based on realistic assumptions, while disclosure and transparency in financial reporting are also good, the report adds, with debt and liquidity management practices considered prudent. In S&P’s opinion, the Region’s rating could improve with significant and sustained economic and demographic improvement through healthier growth in population and household incomes.
  • Due to the continued health risk presented by the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Town of Niagara-on-the-Lake is postponing the reopening of rental bookings at the Community Centre and extending the closure of Town Administrative buildings to the public until further notice (PDF link).
  • The Town of Lincoln and Spark Niagara’s 2020 AgriTech Hackathon registration deadline is quickly approaching. The AgriTech Hackathon is an event that identifies current challenges in the agricultural and value-added agricultural sectors, for which tech solutions are developed and proposed. Over a 48-hour period, multiple teams are asked to hack probable solutions to a series of given challenges for the agriculture, horticulture and eco-tourism sectors. A total of $10,000 in cash prizes may be won, with additional prizes throughout the weekend. Due to COVID-19, the 2020 AgriTech Hackathon will be held virtually.
  • Pelham’s annual holiday event, Christmas in Pelham, will have an expanded event footprint, putting physical distancing requirements, controlling the number of participants, and modeling similar to the successful 2020 Pelham Farmers Market layout and protocols in place. Niagara-on-the-Lake recently opted to cancel its Christmas parade entirely (PDF link).

Reading recommendations:

  • What it’s like to pull the plug on your business during the pandemic, Kyle Bakx, CBC News
    • The numbers are still coming about how many businesses have been shuttered as a result of COVID-19, and considering the financial pain many firms are experiencing, a true tally won’t be known for quite a while. But evidence of the tens of thousands of businesses that have closed can be found in shopping malls and on main streets across Canada. Behind the figures and boarded-up businesses is the human toll the closures had on the entrepreneurs who saw their passions, dreams and financial lifeblood disappear.
  • The next economic crisis: Empty retail space, Katy O’Donnell, Politico
    • Commercial real estate is in trouble, and turbulence in the $15 trillion market is threatening to bleed over into the broader financial system just as the U.S. struggles to emerge from a recession. The longer the pandemic paralyzes hotels, retailers and office buildings, the more difficult it is for property owners to meet their mortgage payments — raising the specter of widespread downgrades, defaults and eventual foreclosures. As companies like J.C. Penney, Neiman Marcus and Pier 1 file for bankruptcy, retail properties are losing major tenants with no clear plan to replace them, while hotels are running below 50 percent occupancy.
  • 4 Ways to Reconfigure Your Sales Strategy During the Pandemic, Scott Edinger, Harvard Business Review
    • It has become clear that we won’t be back to “business as usual” anytime soon. A few months ago, the changes to the workplace brought on by Covid-19 were viewed as a temporary adjustment — something we needed to endure for a few months before the inevitable return to commuting, offices, and face-to-face meetings. But as companies settle into the reality that the current state of things might be the new normal, they need to shift their focus from temporary fixes to a fresh approach to your organizational strategy. For any business that relies on direct sales to drive revenue, it’s time to systematically update your sales organization for the world we’re living in now.


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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