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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: February 11th, 2021

Canada United Small Business Relief Fund to take new applications

The Canada United Small Business Relief Fund (CUSBRF) was established to help small businesses offset the cost of expenses to open safely or adopt digital technologies to move more of their business online. Over $14 Million has been contributed by the Federal Government, RBC, and Canada United partners to support recovery efforts due to COVID-19. The fund has already provided relief to over 2,000 small businesses across the country. Relief grants can now be extended to more small businesses, with grant applications from small businesses across all provinces for expenses incurred no earlier than March 15, 2020 being accepted from February 16th. For more information, eligibility requirements, and to apply, click here.

March break delayed

Ontario’s Minister of Education is postponing March break until April 12-16, 2021. The Government of Ontario has stated that it is taking this precaution based on advice from health experts, including the province’s Science Table and the Chief Medical Officer of Health, to help protect against the emerging COVID-19 variants of concern. The government also asks that Ontarians refrain from travelling, particularly given the increase in new variants that pose a direct risk to our country, stay at home as much as possible, and continue following the direction of public health officials so that the province can keep schools open and protect seniors, frontline health workers and all families.

GNCC issues position statement on vaccination

Vaccination is our best defence against the COVID-19 virus and our greatest chance at a return to normalcy and an economic recovery. We also believe that we are in a race against new variants of the vaccine, trying to vaccinate enough of the population to achieve herd immunity and eradicate the virus before new variants evolve against which our vaccines are useless.

Canada’s rate of vaccination has fallen far behind that of our peer countries. In the early days of the vaccine rollout, we were in the top ten for vaccinations per capita. Data gathered by Oxford University’s Our World in Data on February 11th indicates that Canada is now 57th. We have not only fallen behind our peers, but behind countries such as Nepal, Bahrain, or Chile – countries with a fraction of our national wealth and resources. There is no good reason why Canada, a G7 country with a per-capita GDP of over $45,000 USD, one of the 20 wealthiest countries in the world, ranks 57th in vaccination of its people.

Canadians and businesses have sacrificed much in the interest of public safety since the start of this pandemic. Delays in vaccination are not only inflicting additional and unnecessary harm on the Canadian economy. They are causing additional and unnecessary deaths. We ask the government to take all necessary actions to begin vaccinating Canadians at a rate commensurate with the country’s wealth and infrastructure.

Ontario improves Commodity Loan Guarantee Program

The Government of Ontario is making improvements to the Commodity Loan Guarantee Program to extend repayment deadlines, increase lending capacity and provide farmers with greater flexibility to purchase essential crop growing supplies, such as seed and fertilizer. The Commodity Loan Guarantee Program’s loan repayment deadlines are being permanently extended from February 28 to September 30 to better align repayment dates with the growing season. The extended deadlines will reduce paperwork and costs for farmers who would otherwise have to transfer their loans to other financing options until the sale of their crops. The program’s maximum guaranteed loan limit is also being permanently increased from $120 million to $200 million to allow extended loan repayment deadlines and accommodate an increase in lending capacity.

Government of Canada to invest $100 million to support women impacted by the pandemic

Today, the Honourable Maryam Monsef, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Rural Economic Development, launched a new call for proposals through Women and Gender Equality Canada’s Women’s Program. The call, entitled “Feminist Response and Recovery Fund”, will provide $100 million for projects helping those in greatest need. The funding will allow recipient organizations to launch new projects or scale up past projects that increase women and girls’ participation in Canada’s economic, social, democratic and political life. Eligible projects will tackle barriers, address harmful gender norms and attitudes, or improve policies, practices, resource distribution, networks and relationships.

The call for proposals is open until March 25, 2021 at 12:00 p.m. (Noon) Pacific Standard Time). Visit for more information and for details on how to apply.

Canada extends and increases compensation to the audiovisual sector

$50 million has been added to the initial funding for the Short-Term Compensation Fund for Canadian Audiovisual Productions (STCF). The fund was launched last fall to support audiovisual industry productions during the COVID-19 pandemic. The STCF funding has increased to $100 million, which allows more productions to make use of the program during the busiest time of the year for the industry. Telefilm, which administers the program, can now compensate a production company whose project had to be abandoned or interrupted due to a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis on the set or an outbreak on the production team. For more information and to apply, click here.

Niagara Region Public Health now using text messaging to reach positive cases and close contacts

To quickly reach positive COVID-19 cases and their close contacts, Niagara Region Public Health has recently started using a text messaging service. The service is part of a larger provincial system that is helping to improve case and contact management. The one-way messages will go out to individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19 or who have been identified as close contacts. For those who have tested positive, the message will include a link to a safe and secure web-based form where they can fill in their symptoms and close contacts, as well as receive guidance on how to self-isolate. This form will be voluntary to complete.

Questions about a text received can be directed to the COVID-19 Info-Line at 905-688-8248 or 1-888-505-6074 (press 7).

Reading recommendations

What are the coronavirus variants and how should we respond to them? Your COVID-19 questions answered

CBC News

Canada’s chief public health officer, Dr. Theresa Tam, warned Wednesday that variant strains of the coronavirus had been found in eight provinces, and that they could quickly reverse the gains the country has made in recent weeks in the battle against COVID-19.

At least two of three variants of concern are spreading in Canada, in some cases with no known link to travel, and have already led to devastating outbreaks in long-term care homes.

Here’s a look at some of the most common questions Canadians have about the variants.

Ontario set for years of post-pandemic deficits without new policy: FAO

Canadian Press/BNN Bloomberg

Ontario’s fiscal watchdog says the province is on track for years of post-pandemic deficits barring a change in government policy. The Financial Accountability Officer says in a report today that a series of factors including the pandemic and aging demographics will contribute to the deficits. The FAO says Ontario will have a $35.5 billion deficit in 2020-2021 that is projected to drop to $16 billion by 2024-2025.

But the FAO says barring any service cuts or tax increases, the province will continue to have annual deficits at that level going forward. By law, when Ontario is in deficit, it must develop a recovery plan that charts a path to balanced budgets. The province is expected to deliver its 2021-2022 budget by March 31.

Niagara COVID status tracker

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 drawn daily from 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.

Note that the Provincewide Shutdown is not the same as the Grey-Lockdown level listed in the Ontario COVID-19 Response Framework, which has been suspended for the duration of the shutdown. Additional restrictions for businesses apply during the Shutdown. Businesses should not use the Response Framework as a guide during this time, but should instead refer to the Shutdown guidelines.

 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

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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