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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: February 9, 2022

Small business relief grant open, expanded access to free rapid tests for public, Province seeks new ultra-low overnight power rate, and more.

In this edition:

Ontario small business relief grant now open
Expanded access to free rapid tests for public
Ontario seeks new ultra-low overnight electricity rate options
Niagara College helps job seekers and employers make virtual connection

Ontario small business relief grant now open

The Government of Ontario is excited to announced that eligible small businesses that were required to close under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen can now apply for the Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant (OSBRG).

The application portal will be open from February 9 to March 11 for applications from:

  • Newly established businesses
  • Businesses that may not have previously applied to the Ontario Small Business Support Grant in 2021
  • Businesses that were previously deemed ineligible but are now eligible.

In order to be eligible, applicants will need to confirm that they:

  • Had fewer than 100 employees as of December 31, 2021
  • Were an active business as of January 14, 2022
  • Were required to close indoor operations on January 5, 2022.

Eligible small businesses for the OSBRG include:

  • Restaurants and bars
  • Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms)
  • Racing venues, casinos, bingo halls and gaming establishments
  • Performing arts venues and cinemas
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions
  • Meeting or event spaces
  • Tour and guide services
  • Conference centres and convention centres
  • Driving instruction for individuals
  • Before- and after-school programs.

The OSBRG User Application Guide provides additional information about applying for the grant. The Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade emailed eligible businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant in 2021, and were subject to closure again on January 5, 2022, as they have been pre-screened and do not need to apply for the OSBRG. But they may be asked to confirm their continued eligibility.

For more information on available business supports, please visit: Businesses: Get help with COVID-19 costs |

If you need help, our call centres are open from Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m., excluding government and statutory holidays. The call centres are closed on Saturday and Sunday.

Toll-free: 1-855-216-3090
TTY: 416-325-3408
Toll-free TTY: 1-800-268-7095

Expanded access to free rapid tests for public

The Ontario government is expanding access to free rapid testing kits to the general public for at-home use. As a result of the province’s direct procurement, Ontario will be distributing 5 million rapid tests each week for eight weeks through pharmacy and grocery locations across the province, as well as 500,000 each week through community partners in vulnerable communities. In total, the province is making 44 million rapid tests available to the public for free over the coming weeks.

Starting February 9, over 2,300 participating grocery and pharmacy locations will provide free rapid tests while supplies last, with a limit of one box of five tests per household per visit.

A list of participating retailers as well as information on how retail locations are distributing rapid test kits can be found at

Click here for more information.

Ontario seeks new ultra-low overnight electricity rate options

Ontario’s Energy Minister Todd Smith has asked the Ontario Energy Board (OEB) to provide him with options to implement a new ultra-low overnight Time-of-Use electricity price plan. The new ultra-low overnight rate could help shift workers and residential consumers that use more electricity at night save money while supporting electric vehicle (EV) adoption, for example, by reducing overnight EV charging costs when province-wide electricity demand is lower.

Delivery of a new ultra-low overnight price is possible as Ontario continues to have excess electricity during overnight hours. Shifting electricity use to these hours would make better use of Ontario’s clean electricity supply when province-wide demand is low, increasing grid efficiency and generating value for all Ontario ratepayers.

Click here for more information.

Niagara College helps job seekers and employers make virtual connection

NC’s second annual Virtual Career Fair, hosted by NC’s Career Services and Community Employment Services divisions, will be held on February 16, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Similar to the College’s popular in-person events, which were held on campus prior to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Virtual Career Fair offers a one-stop online shop for job seekers to explore opportunities in their area of expertise, and interact with employers online. More than 60 employers have registered to participate in this year’s virtual event.

For information about NC’s Virtual Career Fair visit

Reading Recommendations

U.S. and Canada warn of economic hit from trucker protest


Protesters blocking border crossings between Canada and the United States risk hurting the auto industry, the White House warned on Wednesday as Ottawa urged an end to the 13-day demonstration against coronavirus mandates.

The Ambassador Bridge, a key supply route for the U.S. auto industry in Detroit, has been shut for inbound Canada traffic since Monday night.

Another border crossing in Alberta has been closed in both directions since late on Tuesday.

Starting as a “Freedom Convoy” occupying downtown Ottawa opposing a vaccinate-or-quarantine mandate for cross-border truckers mirrored by the U.S. government, protesters have also aired grievances about a carbon tax and other legislation.

Tiff Macklem says inflation mostly about supply, suggesting more gentle path for rising rates

Financial Post

Bank of Canada governor Tiff Macklem said the current inflation scare is mostly a supply issue. If he’s right, the central bank’s path back to higher interest rates might not be as steep as some on Bay Street currently think it will be.

The Bank of Canada’s latest economic outlook has year-over-year increases in the consumer price index averaging 5.1 per cent this quarter, well outside policy-makers’ comfort zone of one per cent to three per cent.

Inflation at that pace leaves the central bank with little choice but to raise interest rates. The central bank’s marching orders from the government call on it to keep the consumer price index advancing at an annual rate of about two per cent, the midpoint of that comfort zone. Forecasters at Bank of Nova Scotia predict that will require lifting the benchmark interest rate to two per cent by the end of the year. The rate is currently at an emergency setting of 0.25 per cent, about as close to zero as it can get without unduly disputing financial markets.

Niagara COVID-19 statistics tracker

Niagara COVID vaccination tracker

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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