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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: September 15th, 2020

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced that it has decided to drop proposed tariffs on Canadian aluminum imports. The GNCC, along with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, had strongly advocated for these tariffs to be canceled.
Information on government grants, resources, and programs, and how to apply for them, is available here.
The Government of Canada has a support page with summaries of current programs and application portals.

Vital updates:

  • The U.S. Trade Representative’s office announced that it has decided to drop proposed tariffs on Canadian aluminum imports. The GNCC, along with the Hamilton Chamber of Commerce and the Buffalo Niagara Partnership, had strongly advocated for these tariffs to be canceled, and is pleased at the decision. The Government of Canada also expressed satisfaction with the move, but reiterated that it stood ready to respond to any future tariff threats with dollar-for-dollar retaliatory measures.
  • The Canada Employment Insurance Commission (CEIC) has set the 2021 Employment Insurance (EI) premium rate at $1.58 per $100 of insurable earnings for employees and $2.21 for employers (who pay 1.4 times the employee rate), which is unchanged from the 2020 premium rate. The CEIC is responsible for setting the annual premium rate, based on the seven-year break-even rate forecasted by the EI Senior Actuary, every year on or before September 14th. The Senior Actuary forecasted the seven-year break-even premium rate to be $1.93 per $100 of insurable earnings, an increase of 35 cents, mainly due to rising unemployment caused by the pandemic. However, the Government of Canada used its authority under the Employment Insurance Act to freeze the rate increases for 2021 and 2022 at the 2020 level. Furthermore, the Premium Reduction Program (PRP) will provide roughly $1.055 billion in premium reductions in 2021 to registered employers and their employees, shared 7/12 and 5/12 respectively, in recognition of savings generated to the EI program by employer registered short-term wage-loss plans. For self-employed Canadians who have opted-in to the EI program, the annual earnings required in 2020 will increase to $7,555 for claims filed in 2021. The level of earnings required for self-employed Canadians to be eligible for EI special benefits is indexed annually to Maximum Insurable Earnings (MIE).
  • Niagara’s South Coast Tourism Association (NSCTA), the designated Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for southern Niagara, has announced (PDF link) its success in obtaining funding in the amount of $473,963 to lead a number of projects and initiatives that will support local economic recovery efforts. The funding is part of a $30-million Regional Relief and Recovery Fund provided by FedDev Ontario to support DMOs.
  • The Hamilton, Niagara, Haldimand, Norfolk, Brant and Burlington (HNHNBB region) hospital CEOs have jointly announced (PDF link) that a regional COVID-19 model of care strategy has been developed to provide a coordinated, evidence-based, and equitable approach to caring for COVID- 19-positive patients requiring hospital care in the HNHNBB region. All hospital emergency departments in the region will support and provide care for persons under investigation for COVID-19. Patients who do not require hospitalization will be discharged and receive follow-up care as determined by their care team. Patients who test positive and require hospitalization will be cared for at Niagara Health (St. Catharines Site), Hamilton Health Sciences (Hamilton General Hospital), Joseph Brant Hospital, or St. Joseph’s Healthcare Hamilton. As part of the strategy, Joseph Brant Hospital’s Pandemic Response Unit will be a regional resource to provide care for COVID-19 patients, should the need arise. The Pandemic Response Unit is an external all-season structure at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington. It is designed specifically to care for stable COVID-19 positive patients who have mild to moderate symptoms and require care and support that cannot be provided at home.

Reading recommendations:


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.