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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: October 22nd, 2020

The Ontario government is introducing a package of legislative and policy measures intended to accelerate the building of key infrastructure projects.
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 is introducing a package of legislative and policy measures intended to accelerate the building of key infrastructure projects. The Ontario Rebuilding and Recovery Act, 2020 would support the construction of better-connected highways and public transit networks, transit-oriented communities, and affordable housing.
  • The Ministry of Transportation (MTO) is seeking, through proposed legislative changes, to:
    • Amend the Building Transit Faster Act, 2020 (BTFA) to enable the extension of measures to other major provincial transit projects, which would be specified in regulation.
      • The BTFA includes measures that streamline project delivery and support the accelerated completion of the four priority transit projects.
    • Amend the Public Service Works on Highways Act to include the court order for utility relocation provision in the BTFA. Inclusion would allow for stronger measures to enforce provisions related to the relocation of utilities for highway projects.
    • Extend authorities under the Transit-Oriented Communities Act, 2020 (TOC Act) to other provincial transit projects, such as GO Heavy Rail and light rail transit which would be specified in regulation.
      • Amend the TOC Act to extend authority to provide exemptions from the Hearings of Necessity provisions in the Expropriations Act to other provincial transit projects for TOC.
      • Amend the TOC Act to provide authority to enter into new types of commercial arrangements for other provincial transit projects for TOC to the Minister of Transportation and provide the Minister of Transportation with the ability to delegate this authority by regulation to Metrolinx or other government agencies.
  • The Ministry of Long-Term Care (MLTC) and the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) are proposing to help address zoning and site plan approval concerns to expedite long-term care home development by leveraging support from the Provincial Land and Development Facilitator and by recognizing that the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing has existing authority to make Minister’s Zoning Orders under the Planning Act.
  • The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development (MLTSD) is proposing to leverage recently announced investments in the apprenticeship system aimed at building the skilled trades and professional workforce pipeline.
  • The Ministry of Infrastructure (MOI) is funding the expansion of broadband in unserved and underserved communities across the province and continues to help incentivize increased private sector investment to potentially accelerate broadband expansion.
  • The Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing (MMAH) will consult with municipalities to identify what additional authorities or tools they may need to be granted/delegated to expedite the delivery of critical local infrastructure projects.
  • NWIC Inc. has completed the acquisition of internet service provider Last Mile Wireless Internet Inc. Established in 2003, Last Mile Wireless Internet Inc. (LMWI) is a Niagara-based internet service provider (ISP), with their primary office located in Fort Erie, Ontario. This acquisition makes NWIC the largest rural internet service provider in the Niagara Region.
  • The Town of Grimsby, in partnership with the Grimsby Downtown Improvement Association (DIA), has received grant funding from Digital Main Street Ontario to establish a Digital Service Squad (DSS) to help Grimsby main street small businesses use digital technologies to adapt to a rapidly changing environment. Funding for the grant is provided by FedDev Ontario, a federal program. The Digital Service Squad is a free resource for qualifying local business. The main role of a Digital Service Squad team member is to assess business’s online presence and then recommend how to enhance their digital capabilities. Grimsby’s Digital Service Squad member will be available from the end of October 2020 until the end of February 2021 and will, beyond the advisory services provided, encourage and position applications for Digital Transformation Grant funding – a Digital Main Street grant initiative through which businesses can receive $2,500 to help implement their digital transformation. Business owners are encouraged to apply to the Digital Transformation Grant ( program immediately as intake for the grant program closes at the end of November.
  • Welland Transit is joining more than 200 other cities in connecting riders to bus routes through the transit app (PDF link). By downloading the free  mobile application, riders have access to real-time bus schedules and other useful rider information at their fingertips. The app uses GPS software to display routes in the user’s immediate area and indicates arrival times, allowing riders to better manage their schedules. Transit is available for Android and iOS devices here.
  • The Canadian Chamber of Commerce’s National Cannabis Working Group (the Working Group) is launching an industry-led review of the Cannabis Act (the Act). The goal of the industry review is to provide recommendations on how the federal government should improve Canada’s legislative and regulatory frameworks for cannabis. The Act, which came into force on October 17, 2018, requires that the Minister of Health initiate a review of the Act three years following the legalization of recreational cannabis for adult use. The Working Group will begin its work immediately in order to provide comprehensive input into the federal government’s review of the Act, which must be launched no later than October 17, 2021. Virtual consultations with stakeholders (link to registration) will be held on the following dates:
    • Health Canada service standards, licensing and regulatory burden – Wednesday, November 11, 2020
    • Retail, Economic development, retail and environmental sustainability – Wednesday, November 25, 2020
    • Marketing, promotions and labelling – Wednesday, December 9, 2020
    • Medical Cannabis and Cannabis Health Products – Wednesday, January 20, 2021
    • Illicit market and anti-money laundering – Wednesday, February 3, 2021
    • Ancillary businesses – Wednesday, February 17, 2021

Reading recommendations:

  • Countering the tyranny of the clock: How flexible working is changing workers’ relationship with time, The Economist
    • Two hundred years ago, a device began to dominate the world of work. No, not the steam engine—the gadget was the clock. With the arrival of the factory, people were paid on the basis of how many hours they worked, rather than their material output. The clock’s authoritarian rule may at last be weakening. Flexible working existed well before the pandemic. But it only offered employees the ability to choose when in the day they worked their allotted hours. Remote working has brought a greater degree of freedom.
  • Get your gifts in the mail early this holiday season, Canada Post warns, CBC News/The Canadian Press
    • Canada Post is urging Canadians to shop early this holiday season to avoid the late arrival of gifts caused by a pandemic-induced shift to online shopping. The postal service says it is scaling up operations to handle an expected surge in parcel volumes by adding more than 4,000 seasonal employees, more than 1,000 vehicles and extra equipment. Canada Post will also deliver on weekends in many communities, add more pickup locations and extend hours at many post offices.
  • How a tiny peanut butter company grew to $500k per month in sales, Zachary Crockett, The Hustle
    • In August 2020, Craig Mount and Erika Peterson found themselves in an enviable position. Nerdy Nuts — the D2C peanut butter company they’d founded just 18 months earlier — had gone viral on TikTok. In the span of a few days, the couple had watched their sales multiply by 20x. But they didn’t have time to celebrate. They faced a backlog of $500k+ worth of orders, a depletion of inventory, and thousands of emails from cranky customers. What began as a tiny side hustle at a farmers market in South Dakota had ballooned into a monster.


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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