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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: September 24th, 2020

The Government of Canada has announced the introduction of Bill C-2, which would create three new temporary Recovery Benefits to support Canadians who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19.
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 Government of Canada has announced the introduction of Bill C-2, which would create three new temporary Recovery Benefits to support Canadians who are unable to work for reasons related to COVID-19. These benefits would include:
    • A Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks, to workers who are self-employed or are not eligible for EI and who still require income support. This Benefit would support Canadians who have not returned to work due to COVID-19 or whose income has dropped by at least 50%. These workers must be available and looking for work, and must accept work where it is reasonable to do so;
    • A Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB) of $500 per week for up to two weeks, for workers who are sick or must self-isolate for reasons related to COVID-19. This Benefit aims to support the Government of Canada’s commitment to ensure all Canadian workers have access to paid sick leave; and,
    • A Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) of $500 per week for up to 26 weeks per household, for eligible Canadians unable to work because they must care for a child under the age of 12 or family member because schools, day-cares or care facilities are closed due to COVID-19 or because the child or family member is sick and/or required to quarantine.
  • These changes will also establish a minimum weekly benefit payment of $500 for all EI recipients, at the same level as the CRB. Canadians will be able to apply for these programs through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) for one year up until September 25, 2021. As announced previously, temporary measures to help Canadians access EI benefits more easily are effective September 27, 2020, for one year, including:
    • 120 hours of work required to qualify
    • Minimum benefit rate of $400 per week
    • At least 26 weeks of regular benefits.
  • The Government of Ontario is changing provincial COVID-19 testing guidelines, now stating that asymptomatic individuals should not be tested unless they have had close contact with a case, are part of an outbreak investigation, or those at risk due to their health condition or their employment. Publicly-funded testing will be available for individuals falling into these categories, as well as those exhibiting symptoms. Niagara Region Public Health officials have recommended against asymptomatic testing for some time, and this move by the Province represents greater alignment between provincial and regional policy. Effective immediately, Ontarians should only seek testing at assessment centres if they are:
    • Showing COVID-19 symptoms;
    • Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
    • A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by your local public health unit; and
    • Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.
  • The Niagara Community Observatory and Niagara Workforce Planning Board have released Special Report: The Economic Impact of COVID-19 on Niagara Women in the Workforce (PDF link), which highlights how the pandemic has affected the employment of men and women locally. In the report, the two research organizations conclude that Niagara is following the national narrative in that women have borne the brunt of employment losses since February, and are continuing to do so.

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.