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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Government Resources
Small Business Support Resources
Exporting/Trade Resources
Employment/Legal Resources
Mental Health Resources
Toolkits and more
Chamber Resources


Government Resources

General Updates
Ensure your business is prepared to access available government resources to mitigate potential financial impacts to your employees and your business.

Federal Government Wage Subsidy

The Government of Canada will subsidize up to 75% of wages, for up to three months, for eligible small- and medium-sized enterprises (Industry Canada defines these as employing fewer than 500 people).

An FAQ on the wage subsidy is available here.

Note: As of 3pm on Friday, March 27th, this FAQ had not been updated and still reflected the previous 10% subsidy.

Business Credit Availability Program
To support businesses, the Federal Government promised to act swiftly to stimulate the economy by strengthening investment in federal lending agencies such as the Business Development Bank of Canada and Export Development Canada.

  • Minister of Finance Bill Morneau  outlined  a coordinated package of measures being taken by financial sector partners to support the functioning of markets and continued access to financing for Canadian businesses.
  • The government is establishing a  Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP). The program will further support financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC). Under this program, BDC and EDC will enhance their cooperation with private sector lenders to coordinate financing and credit insurance solutions for Canadian businesses.
  • Small Business Loan
    • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and payment postponements for up to 6 months for qualifying businesses;
    • Postponement of payments for up to 6 months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less;
    • Reduced rates on new eligible loans;
    • To access these loans, click  here  or call 1-877-232-2269
  • Purchase order financing  to cover up to 90 per cent of purchase order amounts to ease cash flow to suppliers

Work Sharing Program Extension
The Federal Government  announced  the Work-Sharing program is implementing temporary special measures to support employers and employees affected by the downturn in business caused by COVID-19. The new temporary special measures are available to employers impacted directly or indirectly by COVID-19. The measures allows for eligible employers to retain skilled employees and workers to remain employed during the temporary downturn in business due to COVID-19. The temporary special measures will:

  • extend the Work-Sharing agreements by an additional 38 weeks, for a total of 76 weeks
    • wave the mandatory waiting period between agreements
    • ease the recovery plan requirements
  • Access the Work-Sharing page to learn more about the program and its requirements.
  • Access the Work-Sharing temporary special measures page to find out if you are eligible for temporary special measures.
  • For more information on the Work-Sharing Program, call the toll-free number: 1-800-367-5693

Wage Subsidies

  • To support businesses that are facing revenue losses and to help prevent lay-offs, the government is proposing to provide eligible small employers a temporary wage subsidy for a period of three months.
  • The subsidy will be equal to 10% of remuneration paid during that period, up to a maximum subsidy of $1,375 per employee and $25,000 per employer. Businesses will be able to benefit immediately from this support by reducing their remittances of income tax withheld on their employees’ remuneration.
  • Employers benefiting from this measure will include corporations eligible for the small business deduction, as well as non-profit organizations and charities.

Deferred Businesses Filing Taxes

  • The Canada Revenue Agency will allow all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after today and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act. No interest or penalties will accumulate on these amounts during this period.
  • The Canada Revenue Agency will not contact any small or medium (SME) businesses to initiate any post assessment GST/HST or Income Tax audits for the next four weeks. For the vast majority of businesses, the Canada Revenue Agency will temporarily suspend audit interaction with taxpayers and representatives.
  • The Liaison Officer  service offers help to owners of small businesses to understand their tax obligations. Traditionally available in-person, this service is now available over the phone and will be customizing information during these challenging times by ensuring small businesses are aware of any changes such as filing and payment deadlines, proactive relief measures, etc.
  • The Government of Ontario will allow interest and payment relief until August 31st for businesses on the majority of provincially-administered taxes, including the Tobacco Tax; Fuel Tax; Gas Tax; Beer, Wine, and Spirits Tax; Mining Tax; Insurance Premium Tax; International Fuel Tax Agreement; and Race Tracks Tax. 

WSIB Premium and Reporting Deferrals

  • The Government of Ontario is allowing a six-month deferral on all WSIB premium payments and reporting.
  • All employers covered by the WSIB’s workplace insurance are automatically eligible for the provisions of the relief package and can defer premium reporting and payments until August 31, 2020. They will not be required to opt in to receive this benefit.
  • Additionally, the WSIB will cease interest accrual on all outstanding premium payments. They will not charge penalties during this six-month deferral period. There will be no negative consequences for businesses who defer premium reporting and payments. The WSIB will continue to fully cover workers at eligible workplaces.

Calling all suppliers – Help Canada combat COVID-19
Are you a business that can supply products and services in support of Canada’s response to COVID-19? Canada wants to hear from you. Find out more  here.

Small Business Support Resources

Ensure your business is prepared to handle a potential case of business disruption to mitigate potential financial impacts to your employees and your business.

Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC)
WEBINAR: The Business Development Bank of Canada is hosting a webinar on March 25, at 12:00pm for entrepreneurs looking for advice on how to manage their business through this difficult time. Register here.

RESOURCE  for entrepreneurs: Including working capital, payment postponements and rate reductions. Effective immediately, new relief measures for qualified businesses below. For more details visit: bdc.ca/coronavirus.

  • Working capital loans of up to $2 million with flexible terms and principal postponements for up to 6 months for qualifying businesses;
  • Postponement of payments for up to six months, free of charge, for existing BDC clients with total BDC loan commitment of $1 million or less
  • Temporary rate reductions for eligible BDC clients and on new client loans
  • Additional details regarding Business Credit Availability Program (BCAP) measures, including industry specific support

Workplace Health and Safety / Federal Labour Standards:

Digital Tools to Keep Business Communications Open

Alternate Ways to Support Local Businesses During This Time

  • Purchase gift cards now to use later
  • Buy from local shops over their Etsy pages or their website (e-commerce shops)
  • Many local restaurants are offering take-out and delivery options
  • You can also order and have food delivered from local restaurants

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Exporting and Trade Resources

In an interconnected global economy, the new coronavirus (COVID-19) is affecting Canadian businesses and their operations. It has resulted in restrictions on travel and public gatherings, as well as supply chain disruptions and market uncertainty.

The Trade Commissioner Service has an unmatched network of over 1,000 business-savvy experts in 160 cities worldwide who help Canadian businesses trade, grow, and succeed. Trade commissioners can provide you with market-specific insights and guidance to help you mitigate the impacts of COVID-19.

Limited Foreign Entry

  • Canada is  barring entry  to all travellers who are not Canadian citizens, permanent residents, a measure being introduced to stop the spread of COVID-19.
  • There will be exceptions for air crew, diplomats, immediate family members of citizens, and cargo workers.
  • No one who is displaying symptoms will be permitted to board a flight to Canada, and that air operators will be required to complete a basic health assessment of every passenger based on guidelines from the Public Health Agency of Canada.
  • Note for businesses: The new border controls  will not  apply to trade and commerce in order to keep Canada’s supply chains open.

Resource: Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters
CME is in contact with federal officials who are overseeing the response to the coronavirus. They will share additional available information and welcome your concerns and input. Website: Canadian Manufacturers & Exporters

Help Canadian Manufacturers Meet Critical Shortages in the Fight Against COVID-19
Next Generation Manufacturing Canada is amassing manufacturing capacity across the country to help the fight against COVID-19. Click here for more information.

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Changes to Job-Protected Leave
On March 16th, the Province of Ontario  announced  legislation which, if passed, would immediately provide job-protected leave to employees in isolation or quarantine due to COVID-19, or those who need to be away from work to care for children because of school or daycare closures. The legislation would ensure that an employee  will not be required to provide a medical note  if they take the leave. The measures would be retroactive to January 25, 2020, the date that the first presumptive COVID-19 case was confirmed in Ontario.

What this means for businesses:

  • Employees will have the right to job-protected leave for COVID-19 quarantine or isolation purposes, or to care for children.
  • Employees will not have to provide a medical note for COVID-19 leave.
  • Job protection for COVID-19 leave will be in effect from January 25th, 2020 onwards.

Changes to Employment Insurance
The Federal government announced changes to Employment Insurance, in light of recent events. Service Canada will support Canadians affected by COVID-19 and placed in quarantine, with the following support actions:

  • The one-week waiting period for EI sickness benefits will be waived for new claimants who are quarantined so they can be paid for the first week of their claim.
  • Establishing a new dedicated toll-free phone number to support inquiries related to waiving the  EI sickness benefits  waiting period.
  • Priority EI application processing for EI sickness claims for clients under quarantine.
  • Contact the new dedicated toll-free phone number if you are in quarantine and seeking to waive the one-week  EI sickness benefits  waiting period so you can be paid for the first week of your claim:
    • Telephone: 1-833-381-2725 (toll-free)
    • Teletypewriter (TTY): 1-800-529-3742

Emergency Care Benefit
The Federal government is also introducing the Emergency Care Benefit providing up to $900 bi-weekly, for up to 15 weeks. This flat-payment Benefit would be administered through the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) and provide income support to:

  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are quarantined or sick with COVID-19 but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • Workers, including the self-employed, who are taking care of a family member who is sick with COVID-19, such as an elderly parent, but do not qualify for EI sickness benefits.
  • Parents with children who require care or supervision due to school or daycare closures, and are unable to earn employment income, irrespective of whether they qualify for EI or not.

Applications for the Benefit will be available in April 2020, and require Canadians to attest that they meet the eligibility requirements. They will need to re-attest every two weeks to reconfirm their eligibility. Canadians will select one of three channels to apply for the Benefit:

  • by accessing it on their CRA MyAccount secure portal;
  • by accessing it from their secure My Service Canada Account; or
  • by calling a toll free number equipped with an automated application process.

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Mental Health Resources

For many, the pressure and uncertainty caused by the COVID-19 pandemic is taking a serious toll. Please see the materials below that will help business, employers, and employees manage their anxiety during this time:

Canadian Mental Health

6 tips to respond to employee anxiety about COVID-19

Mental health tips during COVID-19

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Toolkits

Ontario Chamber of Commerce – Pandemic Preparedness Toolkit

Canadian Chamber of Commerce – Pandemic Preparedness for Business

Business Support: Government of Canada
Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19): Resources for Canadian Businesses

Business Development Bank of Canada
Support for Entrepreneurs Impacted by Coronavirus

Business Development Bank of Canada
Business Continuity Plan and Templates for Entrepreneurs

Business Development Bank of Canada (Export Development Canada)
Managing the impact on global supply chains

Employment Insurance and Labour and Occupational Health and Safety
Coronavirus disease (COVID-19) – Employment and Social Development Canada

Ontario Ministry of Health
Stats and Self Assessment Tool

World Health Organization
COVID-19 Information for Business and Employees

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Chamber Resources

You matter to us and here are just a few of the ways that we can help:

  • Resources: The GNCC is closely monitoring and assessing new developments pertaining to COVID-19, and its impact on Niagara businesses. This rapidly changing situation creates uncertainty and we have gathered and prepared extensive resources to help you through this time (Incl. link to Resources slider with the info as indicated above)
  • Digital marketing is of utmost importance to businesses as Niagara practices social distancing. Let us connect you to customers through our social media reach of 21,770 targeted local businesses, entrepreneurs, and engaged community members. With over 170,000 y-t-d impressions across our channels, your message will be heard. Please contact Corrina Massicotte, Director of Operations and Communication, at corrina@gncc.ca for further information.
  • Certificates of Origin – We have partnered with the Canadian Chamber of Commerce to provide a fast, easy and effective way to obtain Certificates of Origin using an online platform called TradeCert that allows you to apply for Certificates of Origin from the comfort of your office Certificates-of-origin
  • Advocacy – We understand the stress and uncertainty of the last few weeks, and continued uncertainty looking towards the next few weeks and months for the physical and economic health of our community. We are confident that together, we can meet this challenge. In order to ensure this, the GNCC is lobbying for additional measures to help you through the COVID-19 crisis
  • Together 
    • The GNCC is reaching out to our members to learn more about their needs, to connect them with the resources they need, and to relay feedback to government.
    • The Chamber has issued a member survey for members to provide feedback during this time.
    • The Chamber is at the table with government officials to share information, provide advice, and problem-solve.

If you are a business owner and you are unsure what steps you should be taking, please contact the Chamber team info@gncc.ca

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