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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: December 7, 2021

The Ontario government is extending its Worker Income Protection Benefit program, which provides paid sick days, until July 31, 2022.

Ontario to extend COVID-19 Paid Sick Days

Ontario Newsroom

The Ontario government is extending its Worker Income Protection Benefit program, which provides paid sick days, until July 31, 2022. Employees can continue to access this paid leave to get tested, vaccinated, self-isolate, or care for a family member.

Under this legislation, employees are entitled to up to three paid sick days, paid at their regular rate, to a maximum of $200 per day. The employee may use this time if they are:

  • under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19
  • acting under an order given under sections 22 or 35 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act
  • ordered to quarantine or isolate by a recognized official body (public health officer, healthcare professional, government, etc.)
  • acting under an employer’s direction to isolate out of concern for transmission of COVID-19
  • providing care to an individual under medical investigation, supervision or treatment for COVID-19, or ordered to quarantine or isolate as above.

In addition, the province is taking action to protect jobs and businesses by extending temporary changes to the Employment Standards Act that prevent temporary layoffs of non-unionized employees from becoming unwanted terminations, which can trigger payments and force businesses to close. This measure will now be extended until July 30, 2022.

Click here for more information.

Click here to read the statute.

The GNCC is here to help your business navigate public policy and legislation. Click here to email our team with questions.

Ontario extends pause on lifting of capacity limits

Ontario Newsroom

On November 10, the Government of Ontario had paused its plan to gradually lift capacity limits for “high-risk” settings where proof-of-vaccination was required, including food and drink establishments with dance facilities, meeting or event spaces with dancing, strip clubs, and sex clubs. Other businesses, such as restaurants and bars without dancing facilities, were unaffected.

Today, the government announced that this pause would be extended while questions still remained about the newly-discovered Omicron variant, which researchers have suggested is rapidly spreading, and will eventually out-compete the currently dominant Delta strain. International research into the efficacy of existing vaccines against the new variant is ongoing.

The pause has no current end-date. The government did not mention whether any additional financial assistance might be offered to affected businesses.

Click here for more information.

The GNCC is here to help your business navigate public policy and legislation. Click here to email our team with questions.

Fort Erie votes unanimously in support of consolidating transit systems in Niagara

Town of Fort Erie

At a meeting last night, Fort Erie Town Council voted unanimously in favour of combining all of Niagara’s existing services into one single, integrated transit commission serving all of Niagara. The GNCC supports the integrated transit commission plan, and had officially expressed its support to Fort Erie. We thank all our members and subscribers who took the time to join our campaign for better public transit in Niagara.

This was the first vote after Niagara Regional Council gave its assent on November 25. All municipalities in Niagara will soon vote on this question. In order to proceed, the plan will need the support of a triple majority, meaning first a majority vote at the Region; secondly, a majority of municipal governments in Niagara; and thirdly, that those municipal governments must represent a majority of the population.

Click here for more information (PDF link).

Government of Canada will require employees in all federally regulated workplaces to be vaccinated against COVID-19

Government of Canada

Today, the Minister of Labour, Seamus O’Regan Jr., announced that the Government of Canada will propose regulations under Part II of the Canada Labour Code to make vaccination mandatory in federally regulated workplaces. These regulations would complement existing occupational health and safety measures.

Mandatory vaccination requirements are already in place for the public sector, employees working in the federally regulated air, rail, and marine transportation sectors, and travelers on these modes of transportation. The new regulations would ensure that employees in all other federally regulated industries, such as road transportation, telecommunications, and banking, are also vaccinated.

Only federally-regulated businesses would be affected. Click here for a list of federally-regulated industries.

Click here to read the media release.

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to help protect ourselves, and our families and communities against COVID-19. Learn more here.

The GNCC is here to help your business navigate public policy and legislation. Click here to email our team with questions.

Niagara Community Observatory to present new policy brief on Growing Agri-Innovation

Brock University

Brock University’s Niagara Community Observatory (NCO) will present its latest policy brief, Growing Agri-Innovation: Investigating the barriers and drivers to the adoption of automation and robotics in Ontario’s agriculture sector, during a virtual event Wednesday, Dec. 8 from 10 to 11:30 a.m.

The paper was authored by Amy Lemay, NCO Research Fellow and Adjunct Professor in Brock’s Environmental Sustainability Research Centre; Charles Conteh, Professor of Public Policy and Management in the Department of Political Science; and Jeff Boggs, Associate Professor of Geography and Tourism Studies and NCO Interim Director.

Click here for more information and to register.

Niagara Regional Police required to prove vaccination status by December 17

Niagara Regional Police

Given rising case counts of COVID-19 within the Province and Niagara, coupled with concerns over new variants, the Niagara Regional Police Service (NRPS) has determined the need to implement a vaccination policy for members, effective January 4, 2022.

Members will be required to provide proof of vaccination status by December 17, 2021. The NRPS also recognizes its responsibilities and duties under the Ontario Human Rights Code. If a member is unable to be vaccinated due to a protected ground, they will be accommodated.

Should members wish to not disclose their vaccination status, or have chosen not to receive the vaccine, as of January 4, 2022, they will be required to demonstrate negative results from a rapid-antigen test.

As of January 4, 2022, members who elect either not to be vaccinated or to disclose their vaccination status and who decline to be tested will be placed on non-disciplinary unpaid leave.

Click here for more information.

Vaccination is one of the most effective ways to help protect ourselves, and our families and communities against COVID-19. Learn more here.

Motor vehicle industry trade drives sharp uptick in Canadian exports

Statistics Canada

In October, Canada’s merchandise exports and imports rose sharply, in large part because of higher trade in motor vehicles and parts as well as energy products. Total exports rose 6.4% in October to reach a record $56.2 billion, while imports rose 5.3%. Canada’s merchandise trade surplus widened from $1.4 billion in September to $2.1 billion in October, the largest surplus so far in 2021.

Following a decline of 18.1% in September, exports of motor vehicles and parts increased 30.8% in October. While stoppages related to semiconductor chip shortages still affected Canadian assembly plants in October, they were less significant than those that occurred in September. The October export value of $6.1 billion for the product section was still almost 23% lower than the monthly average observed in 2019, before the pandemic. Exports of passenger cars and light trucks (+44.0%) increased the most, followed by motor vehicle engines and parts (+18.3%).

Click here for more information.

Red-hot Canadian property market to lose some steam in 2022


Canada’s double-digit house price inflation will lose steam next year, but affordability is still almost certain to worsen in one of the world’s hottest property markets, according to a Reuters poll of analysts.

A rush to purchase homes ahead of expected increases in Canadian interest rates next year is boosting the housing market in the final quarter, with prices skyrocketing 18.2% in October compared to the year-earlier period.

Extra froth in the market, driven by investors fueling perceptions that prices will keep rising, has prompted the Bank of Canada to recently warn of an increased risk of a correction.

Click here for more information.

Reading Recommendations

Posthaste: Canadians embarked on a $193B mortgage binge during the pandemic. Now comes the reckoning

The Financial Post

Low-interest-rates loving Canadians have lapped up $193 billion in new mortgage debt during the pandemic, taking total household debt to a record $2.5 trillion.

But the party is about to end as central banks look to take away the punch bowl: The U.S. Federal Reserve and Bank of Canada have both signalled a faster return to monetary tightening next year as they pull the interest rate levers to tame inflation.

Can Canadian households manage higher mortgage payments?

“Our analysis suggests households are well positioned for the gradual rise in interest rates that we anticipate in the coming years. However, if rates were to rise sooner and more rapidly, higher debt service costs could materially constrain consumption, causing a broader slowdown in the economy,” wrote Tony Stillo and Michael Davenport, economists at Oxford Economics, in a note on Monday.

Mortgage debt now accounts for 68.7 per cent of total Canadian household debt, compared to 65.9 per cent at the end of 2019.

If the Bank of Canada raises its policy rate from 0.25 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2022 to its “neutral” level of 2 per cent by mid-2026, household interest payments is forecast to rise as a share of disposable income from a record low of 6.3 per cent in the third quarter of 2021 to 8.2 per cent by the fourth quarter of 2023, Oxford Economics analysts.

Bank of Canada can hold off on rate hikes despite risks: Economists

BNN Bloomberg

Some Bay Street economists believe the Bank of Canada can likely wait a little longer to raise its benchmark interest rate, despite inflation running well above the central bank’s target and the risk that poses to household spending.

“If you believe most of the increase in inflation is temporary, then [the Bank of Canada] likely can wait a bit longer,” Sal Guatieri, senior economist and director at BMO Capital Markets, said in an interview.

“The unemployment rate is still a percentage point above the decade lows we got to before the pandemic. Wage growth is still pretty subdued in Canada — with average hourly earnings running at a two per cent yearly rate. So, on that basis, they probably could afford to wait.”

Capital Economics Senior Canada Economist Stephen Brown agreed. Canada is only starting to see the “first signs” of wage growth, he said, adding that a lot of the inflationary pressures we’re seeing in the country are due to domestic and global supply chain constraints — something Brown believes the Bank isn’t as concerned about because it’s less likely to feed into permanent price increases.

Markets widely expect the Bank of Canada to leave its benchmark rate unchanged on Wednesday despite inflation running hot.

Niagara COVID-19 statistics tracker

Niagara COVID vaccination tracker

Free rapid COVID-19 testing kits are now available to businesses. Visit to learn more and reserve kits for your organization.

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.

Through the Daily Updates, the GNCC aims to deliver important business news in a timely manner. We disseminate all news and information we feel will be important to businesses. Inclusion in the Daily Update is not an endorsement by the GNCC.

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