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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: October 9th, 2020

Deputy PM Chrystia Freeland announced the government’s intention to introduce targeted supports to help hard-hit businesses & organizations.
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 Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, today announced the government’s intention to introduce new, targeted supports to help hard-hit businesses and other organizations experiencing a drop in revenue. The government plans to introduce legislation to provide support that would help these businesses safely get through the second wave of the virus and the winter, cover costs so they can continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery, including:
    • The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which will be provided directly to tenants while also providing support to property owners. Businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop will have a percentage of their expenses subsidized, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.
    • A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy.
    • The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021. The subsidy would remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.
    • An expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which would enable businesses, and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans—and that continue to be seriously impacted by the pandemic—to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. Additionally, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. Further details, including the launch date and application process will be announced in the coming days. An attestation of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will be required to access the additional financing.
  • Today’s Labour Force Survey release has revealed that the unemployment rate declined for the fourth consecutive month in September, falling 1.2 percentage points to 9.0%. Employment rose by 378,000 (+2.1%), 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%. Employment increased in every province except New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island in September, with the largest gains in Ontario and Quebec. Self-employment was little changed in September. Compared with February, self-employment was down 6.0%, while the number of employees was within 3.3% of its pre-pandemic level.
  • Employment growth was strong for young women (+62,000 or +5.7%) and men (+66,000 or +6.0%) aged 15 to 24 in September. Despite these increases, employment for Canadian youth remained 10% below February levels, much further behind the recovery in the other major demographic groups. 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. The number of people who wanted to work but did not search for a job (580,000) has been trending downward since peaking at 1.5 million in April.
  • 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. Compared with February, total employment was down 720,000 (-3.7%), with three-quarters of this decline coming from four industries: accommodation and food services, retail trade, construction, and transportation and warehousing. While some industries face a long recovery to pre-COVID employment levels, some sectors, including manufacturing, have almost fully recovered.
  • Locally, unemployment fell from 23,600 (11.3%) in August to 18,400 (8.8%) in September, while an additional 700 people had joined the labour force (i.e. were either working or actively seeking work). September’s data show that Niagara is trending in the right direction, but there is more going on under the surface than meets the eye. Month-over-month data show that 5,900 additional Niagara residents were working in September 2020 compared to August 2020. Among these employment gains, 69.5% were among men and 30.5% were among women. About 86.4% of local employment gains were in part-time positions. Niagara residents working in the accommodation and food service sector saw the most employment gains of any sector in September’s data. These gains amounted to an additional 2,800 Niagara residents reporting employment in accommodations and food service. This is the third month of consecutive employment gains in accommodation and food service.
  • Despite the positive employment trends, Niagara would have needed to add an additional 11,300 people to the employment count to match our September 2019 employment level. To draw level to where we were in February (i.e. the last month before the pandemic) Niagara would have needed to add an additional 7,400 people to the employment count. These data were provided by Niagara Workforce Planning Board, whose in-depth report on the monthly labour market statistics will be available on Tuesday.
  • Beginning at midnight, Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto will go into modified Stage 2 restrictions for a period of at least 28 days. In those regions only, indoor dining, gyms, cinemas, casinos, performing arts and racing venues will be closed. Schools and places of worship will remain open. Capacity limits will be reduced to 10 people indoors for tours, real estate open houses and meeting and event spaces. Physical distancing must be maintained. Wedding receptions are temporarily suspended from 12:01 a.m. Tuesday. The Government of Ontario is asking people in those areas to leave their homes only for essential purposes and to avoid travelling to other regions in the province. These restrictions are not extended to Niagara and other regions of Ontario. Nevertheless, the GNCC advises Niagara businesses to make contingency plans in the case of a more general extension of Stage 2 measures. With both new daily cases and the 7-day average caseload now at record highs in the province, unless the rate of infection begins to fall, the Government of Ontario may have no alternative but to move towards a more general restriction of activity.
  • Public health officials are urging Canadians to be extra-vigilant this Thanksgiving weekend as new COVID-19 modelling shows the growth of caseloads continuing to accelerate across the country. Chief Public Health Officer Theresa Tam said there were 2,400 new cases recorded across the country on Thursday – the highest one-day increase in reported cases since the start of the pandemic. She said that Canadians must limit their contacts and deny the virus opportunities to spread.

Reading recommendations:


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.

Remember that a COVID-19 test is only a snapshot of your health on the specific date and time the swab was taken. No testing is perfect and a negative result doesn’t mean you haven’t been exposed to COVID-19. You can still develop symptoms days after your test was taken.

It is important that everyone practice physical distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Maintain a 2-metre distance from other people. When maintaining distance is impossible, wear a mask or face covering. Wash hands frequently and thoroughly. Avoid touching the face. 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.