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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: April 12th, 2021

Ontario will move elementary and secondary schools to remote learning after April break

All publicly funded and private elementary and secondary schools in the province are to move to teacher-led remote learning when students return from the April break on April 19, 2021. Private schools operating in-person this week are to transition to remote learning by April 15, 2021.

Child care for non-school aged children will remain open, before and after school programs will be closed and free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided.

With students moving to remote learning, vaccine prioritization of education workers who provide direct support to students with special education needs across the province, and all education workers in select hot spot areas, starting with Peel and Toronto, will continue.

Click here to read more.

700 more pharmacies to offer COVID-19 vaccine

The Ontario government is increasing capacity in its COVID-19 vaccine rollout with the addition of over 700 pharmacies across the province. These locations will start offering the AstraZeneca vaccine to individuals aged 55 and older throughout this week.

This expansion will bring the total number of pharmacies offering the vaccine to over 1,400 locations and this number is expected to reach approximately 1,500 by the end of April. To find the nearest pharmacy offering vaccinations please visit:

Click here to read more.

Regional Chair, Niagara mayors offer statement of support for Niagara’s small businesses

The Regional Chair and Niagara mayors are calling for increased support for our business community now. Municipalities across Niagara have been using all of the resources at our disposal to support businesses at every opportunity by doing things like:

  • Deferring property taxes
  • Eliminating fees for business and patio licences
  • Allowing patio extensions and street closures
  • Implementing “Buy Local” campaigns
  • Expediting approvals and licensing processes

All of this has not been enough. Though the signatories are grateful for recent budget investments from the government, businesses will not survive if we do not do more. The signatories are asking for continued financial supports and extended benefits for business from our Provincial and Federal Governments, including:

  • Previously funded benefits and programs need to be distributed as quickly as possible
  • Introduction of new supports or reopening applications for all affected businesses with streamlined processes
  • Federal and Provincial coordination to provide sick leave benefits, ensuring unallocated funds are dispersed immediately

Click here to read more.

Town of Lincoln to receive funding from Ontario’s Inclusive Community Grant Program

The funding totalling $60,000 was the maximum amount a municipality was able to apply for.

The Inclusive Community grant is in addition to the $200,000 approved in the 2021 Capital Budget process. The Town has identified 44 accessibility upgrades across 10 municipal facilities that will better enhance use for residents of varying abilities. These include the following visual, audible and physical accessibility enhancements:

  • Visual strobe fire alarm systems at 6 Town facilities
  • Automatic door systems – 8 facilities
  • Accessible parking – lot line painting at 10 Town facilities
  • Barrier-free parking signage at 10 Town facilities
  • Wall-mounted fixtures at 6 Town facilities
  • Service counter upgrades at 2 facilities
  • Ramps and curbs – 1 facility
  • Washroom call station – 1 facility

Click here to read more.

Port Colborne launches community engagement survey

The City of Port Colborne is launching a community engagement survey to help identify key themes for its upcoming strategic plan and is looking for resident input.

Council and staff initiated the strategic planning process in 2019 and facilitated several roundtable discussions into the first quarter of 2020. As a result of the disruptions caused by COVID-19, the process was put on hold and picked up again in the fall.

The community engagement survey is available until April 23 on the City’s website. Paper copies of the survey are also available for curbside pickup at the Library and City Hall. Individuals 18 and older, whose primary residence is in Port Colborne, are encouraged to complete the survey. Anyone who completes the survey will be entered into a draw for a chance to win a $50 gift card to a Port Colborne establishment of choice. Results from the survey will be reported to Council and used to support implementation of the Strategic Plan later this spring.

To complete the survey, click here. 

Governments must act now to strengthen Canada’s food supply chain: Chamber Report

During the COVID-19 crisis, Canada’s food supply chain experienced numerous pressures, ranging from panic buying to temporary shortages to the rapid shift to e-commerce for grocery stores, farmers, and restaurants. The latest report by the Ontario Chamber of Commerce (OCC), Growing a More Resilient Food Supply Chain in Ontario, outlines why public policymakers need to take note and take action on issues such as rising food insecurity and food fraud as well as supporting the demand for local food and the shift to online sales to help grow a stronger agri-food sector.

The recommendations outlined in Growing a More Resilient Food Supply Chain aim to strengthen the agri-food sector – a sector that is not only a significant economic driver in Ontario and Canada but also a competitive advantage. Specifically, the report makes a series of recommendations aimed at federal and provincial policymakers:

  1. Meet the demand for local food and shift to online sales by continuing to invest in relevant programs that help producers transition to e-commerce;
  2. Improve the AgriStability program by increasing the payment cap and payment trigger, and processing claims more quickly;
  3. Remove red tape facing farmers, including inter-provincial trade barriers for meat and meat products;
  4. Support the next generation of farmers by attracting youth to the sector and reducing other barriers to entry like access to land and capital;
  5. Curb food fraud through improved seafood labelling and a pragmatic plan; and
  6. Eliminate food insecurity by collecting data, setting targets, and investing in road development in Indigenous and remote communities.

Read the policy brief: Growing a More Resilient Food Supply Chain in Ontario.

Click here to read more.

Statistics Canada and Bank of Canada release adjusted price index

The COVID-19 pandemic led to economic disruptions that affected financial and labour markets across the globe. Very quickly, Canadians began spending differently as they adapted to staying home, travelling less, and buying more of certain items and less of others. Some businesses reopened over the summer as physical distancing measures were eased, starting with the most essential services. Although some consumer spending patterns began returning to the way they were before the pandemic, many remained altered over the winter.

The monthly adjusted basket weight for the shelter component edged higher in November (reaching 28.81%), December (reaching 29.35%) and January (reaching 29.63%) compared with October 2020, as consumers directed a greater share of their spending to the costs associated with homeownership.

Although the gap between the adjusted price index and the official CPI widened slightly in January, it narrowed in February and has remained relatively steady since September.

The adjusted price index fell in December (-0.3%) compared with November, but rebounded in January (+0.7%) and February (+0.5%).

Click here to read more.

Reading recommendations

How COVID-19 created a buyer’s market for office space

Tara Deschamps, CBC News

The national office vacancy rate climbed to 13.4 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2020, CBRE reported. That’s the country’s highest available amount office space since 2004.

That grew to 14.6 per cent for the first quarter of 2021, up from 10.3 per cent at the same time last year, which covers the period before the worst of pandemic’s economic effects hit.

Some cities appear to be coping: vacancy rates in Vancouver, Waterloo and Ottawa rates were as low as 6.3, 9.3 and 9.6 per cent respectively for the first quarter. But in Alberta, where the devastated oil industry combined with the broader downturn, more than one in four Calgary offices and one in five Edmonton properties remain vacant.

Joe Biden hopes to stop American multinationals booking huge profits abroad

The Economist

Janet Yellen, America’s treasury secretary, has proposed a global minimum corporate-tax rate, calling for an end to what she termed a “race to the bottom”. It is hard to quibble with that assessment. According to the Tax Foundation, a think-tank, average corporate-tax rates around the world have plummeted from 40% in 1980 to 24% in 2020. Tax havens such as the Cayman and British Virgin Islands, which offer bargain-basement rates to entice multinational companies, have led the way down. In the 1960s less than 10% of foreign profits earned by American multinationals (excluding oil companies) was booked in these low-tax jurisdictions; by 2018 that percentage had risen above 50%. By one estimate, America’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS) misses out on nearly $65bn in tax revenue a year because of profits booked in tax havens.

Niagara COVID status tracker (March 28-April 3)

Niagara’s most up-to-date COVID statistics, measured against the targets for the various stages of the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework, are presented below. This does not predict government policy, but is offered to give you an idea of where Niagara is situated and how likely a relaxation (or further restrictions) may be. These data are the most recent published by Niagara Region. The Grey-Lockdown level does not have its own metrics, but is triggered when the COVID-specific measurements in a Red-Control region have continued to deteriorate.

▲: Metric has increased since last published measurement

▼: Metric has decreased since last published measurement

 December 18December 25January 1January 8January 15January 22January 29
Reproductive number1.
New cases per 100,000101.2267.3469.8575.8507.1295.5250.6
New cases per day (not including outbreaks)60.7178.7311.7376.9325.4182.7145.7
Percent of hospital beds occupied97%95.2%98.2%103.2%104.5%103.6%106%
Percent of intensive care beds occupied78.8%77.3%87.9%87.9%90.9%89.4%93.9%
Percentage of positive tests6.1%15.6%28.1%28.6%26.6%21.2%16.2%


  • Weekly Incidence Rate: the number of new COVID-19 cases per 100,000 people per week
  • Percent Positivity: the number of positive COVID-19 tests as a percentage of all COVID-19 tests performed
  • Rt: the reproductive rate, or the number of people infected by each case of the virus

Niagara COVID vaccination tracker (April 12)

Niagara’s most up-to-date vaccination numbers are presented below, along with comparison data from Ontario, Canada, and G7 countries.

Total doses administered in Niagara: 109,731

Total doses administered in Niagara since yesterday: 3,484

 Percentage of population with one dosePercentage of population fully vaccinated
United States75%64%
United Kingdom78%72%

Data are drawn from Niagara Region, the Government of Ontario, and Oxford University’s Our World in Data project.

Information on government grants, resources, and programs, policies, forms, and posters for download and use, are available here.The GNCC is here to support you. Contact us with any questions you have.
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