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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

COVID-19 Business Update: September 25th, 2020

The Ontario government has tightened public health measures in response to the recent rise in cases of 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:

  • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health experts, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20: Rules for Areas in Stage 3 under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, to tighten public health measures in response to the recent rise in cases of COVID-19. The amended order will apply province-wide effective 12:01 a.m. on Saturday September 26 and will:
    • Apply additional measures and restrictions to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) by prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m., and prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on the premises after 12:00 a.m. until 9:00 a.m. (including employees), and requiring establishments to close by 12:00 a.m. and remain closed until 5:00 a.m. except for takeout or delivery;
    • Close all strip clubs across the province; and
    • Require businesses or organizations to comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening for COVID-19.
  • CPP Investments, the organization that invests the money of the Canada Pension Plan, is holding its biannual public meeting for Ontario on October 5th between 12pm and 1pm EDT. The meeting will be broadcast virtually and will be accessible by computer and phone in both English and French. Anyone interested in learning more about how their CPP contributions are being invested is welcome to attend. More information is available here (PDF link).
  • The Government of Canada will transition from the CERB to the revamped EI program on September 27. EI will now be available to more Canadians, including those who would not have qualified for EI in the past, supporting an additional 400,000 people through the program. Canadians receiving EI are eligible for a taxable benefit at a rate of at least $500 per week, or $300 per week for extended parental benefits. Canadians claiming EI benefits for job loss would be eligible for at least 26 weeks. Returning to the EI program will allow claimants to benefit from the Working While on Claim rules. These rules allow claimants to keep receiving part of their EI benefits and all their earnings from work. In addition, employers will once again be able to make use of registered Supplemental Unemployment Benefit (SUB) plans to provide support to employees. Service Canada has nearly doubled the number of specialized EI call centre agents in advance of the expected unprecedented number of EI claims over the coming weeks.
  • Today is Franco-Ontario day, and the Government of Ontario has announced that from September 28, Ontarians with French characters in their names (e.g. ç, è, é, ê, ë) will be able to request new drivers’ licenses and Ontario Photo Cards that include these characters. Replacements will be free of charge. Customers will be required to visit a ServiceOntario centre with supporting identification documents to request their new ID, but the government asks that those wishing to amend their documents wait until they are expiring to reduce crowding and wait times.
  • If you operate a small-to-medium-sized enterprise (SME) in Niagara, with fewer than 500 employees, the GNCC, the Ontario Chamber of Commerce, and the Ryerson University Diversity Institute – Future Skills Centre need your help with a study on the future skills needs of SMEs. The talent requirements of SMEs are frequently overlooked, and we know that talent acquisition and retention is one of the biggest problems that face small and medium-sized businesses. Participants in the study will directly contribute to research on SME skills needs, which will inform programming to support meeting those needs. Participants will use a virtual bulletin board to participate in the research, which will include some simple poll questions, as well as short and long answer questions. Participation can be made via text, audio, or video – whichever is more convenient. SMEs admitted for the program will be given clear instructions and many days to complete the research, which they can do at any time. The program is designed to be as flexible and easy to complete as possible; we know participants are busy people and their time is valuable. Responses will be confidential (not even the other participants will see them) to ensure all participants are comfortable sharing sensitive or competitive data. Our expectation is for the project to kick off in mid-October but we will be taking participants on a rolling basis through November, in order to reach a reasonable number of completed responses. If you are interested, please submit your information here.

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.

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