Free rapid COVID-19 testing kits are now available to businesses
Visit gncc.ca/workplace-self-screening-kits to learn more and reserve kits for your organization.
Ford, cabinet considering moving Ontario into next phase of COVID-19 reopening 2 days early
Premier Doug Ford and his cabinet are considering moving Ontario into Step 2 of the government’s reopening plan next Wednesday, two days ahead of schedule, CBC News has learned.
Sources with knowledge of the discussion said Ford and cabinet are meeting this afternoon. If approved, the announcement is expected to be made tomorrow.
The sources spoke to CBC News on the condition of confidentiality because they weren’t authorized to speak publicly.
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Ford said provincial officials are currently reviewing data and are “working hard to get to Stage 2 as quickly as possible, and Step 3 as soon as it’s safe after that.”
GNCC calls for more detail in border reopening plans
In a media release, the Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce has stated that the announcement of a partial re-opening for fully-vaccinated people with right of entry gives Canadians the opportunity to travel and will result in a boost for the tourism sectors of other countries, but not our own.
This change has been dubbed “Phase 1,” yet the government’s announcement contained no details as to what Phase 2 would be, when it would start, what public health measurements would indicate that it could start, or even how many total phases were in the border reopening plan.
The government’s own expert advisory council on this issue put forward extensive suggestions in April. However, we have yet to make any distinction between countries where the COVID-19 situation is similar to or better than that found in Canada and those where infection is rampant and healthcare systems are overwhelmed. The existence of different rules for fully vaccinated Canadians and fully vaccinated foreigners has also not been explained.
Border communities, families and devastated tourism operators are rightfully asking to see the complete plan for border reopening. We fully agree that it needs to be guided by public health metrics such as COVID-19 case counts, vaccination rates, hospital capacity, and so forth, but it is time for a clear plan with a roadmap to a full reopening of the border, along with timelines and measurements for each stage of the process.
Ontario releases Tourism Economic Recovery Report
Today, the Ontario government released a report prepared by the Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force, which makes recommendations on how to support the province’s $36-billion tourism industry in recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The report provides 10 key recommendations about how to rebuild and reshape the future of Ontario’s tourism industry. The recommendations include reducing red tape for tourism businesses, restoring consumer confidence in visitors through collaboration between public health officials and the tourism industry and encouraging Ontarians to experience the province through industry co-ordinated travel days. The report also suggests new opportunities to showcase the best Ontario has to offer through itineraries, packages and trails that will make it easier to find local Ontario products and experiences.
Ontario introduces new Code of Ethics for homebuilders
The Ontario government is introducing a new Code of Ethics for builders and vendors of new homes, clarifications to the simplified warranty and protections claims process for defects in new homes, and a mediation process for homeowners who dispute a warranty claim assessment. These changes come into effect on July 1, 2021 and will support a standard of work and professionalism that reflects the best of Ontario’s homebuilding industry.
The Niagara Homebuilders Association and Ontario Homebuilders Association were extensively involved in developing the Code of Ethics and are supportive of it, noting that reputable homebuilders already hold themselves to high ethical standards.
Town of Lincoln launches COVID-19 Business Support Page
In response to feedback gathered in the town’s Business Retention & Expansion (BR&E) initiative, a COVID-19 Business Support page, which can be found under the “Let’s Talk Business” tab on the Town’s website, has been launched to connect local businesses with valuable information regarding:
- Federal, Provincial & Municipal business grants
- Sourcing Personal Protective Equipment vendors
- Scheduling training & well-being workshops that focus on mental health in the workplace
- Regional and Provincial guidelines for businesses during COVID-19.
Local Grimsby businesses are invited and encouraged to participate in the BR&E survey now available on the Town’s Let’s Talk Business portal and engage in an ongoing dialogue by subscribing to the project page.
Town of Lincoln designated as Bicycle Friendly Community
For the first time, the Town of Lincoln has been awarded a Bicycle Friendly Community Award for 2021-2025 at the Bronze designation. The Bicycle Friendly Community Award Program is an initiative of the Share the Road Cycling Coalition to help communities evaluate how bicycle friendly their community is, celebrate progress, and work toward achieving higher-level awards over time.
Moving forward, the Town will continue to work closely with the Active Transportation Citizen Advisory Committee to provide ongoing support and improvement to the Active Transportation Network.
The Committee is currently working with Town staff to launch an Active Transportation Network page on the Town’s public engagement site, SpeakUpLincoln.ca, to share valuable knowledge and information to both locals and visitors to the area.
Retail sales fall in April
Retail sales were down 5.7% to $54.8 billion in April, Statistics Canada reports. The decline coincided with the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic and was the largest decline in retail sales since April 2020 during the first wave of the pandemic. The largest declines were observed in clothing and clothing accessories stores (-28.6%) and general merchandise stores (-8.1%).
Sales decreased in 9 of 11 subsectors, representing 74.2% of retail trade.
Based on respondent feedback, 5.0% of retailers were closed at some point in April, compared with approximately one-third of retailers being closed at the same time last year. The average length of the shutdown was one day, compared with eight days in April 2020.
Niagara College to focus on safety, with significant increase in on-campus learning this fall
With a strong focus on ensuring a safe learning environment, Niagara College will see a significant increase in on-campus learning when Fall term classes begin in September.
Recognizing that students need ample time to plan for their studies, delivery modes for all programs and courses have been finalized, with more than 80 programs offering on-campus learning this fall. Many programs will mix remote and in-person learning, while a limited number of programs will see a continuation of fully-remote learning for the fall. Should changes in COVID trends or government restrictions require further changes in program delivery, students will receive updates directly from their program area.
Canada’s Senate on Tuesday passed a bill that will open the way to legalize betting on single games or sporting events, which is currently illegal except for on horse racing.
The vote sent gambling shares higher as it is seen helping them win back customers from offshore websites and U.S. casinos.
After the bill receives royal ascent from the chief justice of the Supreme Court in coming days, it will be up to each of Canada’s provinces and territories to decide how to implement legal betting on sports events.
Disclosure: The GNCC has advocated for single-wager betting to be legalized since the summer of 2016.
Canada’s accelerating vaccination effort has put the country on track to reach key benchmarks for reopening the U.S. border as early as next month.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s government has begun citing a 75 per cent two-dose vaccination rate as the threshold to lift border restrictions. That number is about 20 per cent now.
As wide as that gap is, the latest vaccine delivery schedule suggests it could close considerably within the next month, raising the prospect that Canada could move ahead with a comprehensive reopening before the end of the critical summer tourism season.
Niagara COVID Stats Tracker (June 19)
|December 18||December 25||January 1||January 8||January 15||January 22||January 29|
|New cases per 100,000||101.2||267.3||469.8||575.8||507.1||295.5||250.6|
|New cases per day (not including outbreaks)||60.7||178.7||311.7||376.9||325.4||182.7||145.7|
|Percent of hospital beds occupied||97%||95.2%||98.2%||103.2%||104.5%||103.6%||106%|
|Percent of intensive care beds occupied||78.8%||77.3%||87.9%||87.9%||90.9%||89.4%||93.9%|
|Percentage of positive tests||6.1%||15.6%||28.1%||28.6%||26.6%||21.2%||16.2%|
These data show the status of the COVID-19 pandemic in Niagara. The Province of Ontario is now using a provincewide approach to reopening, and these data no longer have any influence on Niagara’s restrictions.
Data are drawn from Niagara Region Public Health.
Reproductive number: the average number of new cases each case causes. If each person infects one other person, the rate is 1; if each person infects two people, the rate is 2. Under the outdated COVID-19 response framework, the target for “green-prevent” was less than 1. Niagara Public Health has indicated that this number should be consistently below 1 for Section 22 orders to be lifted.
New cases per 100,000: the total number of new cases per week identified per 100,000 population. Under the outdated COVID-19 response framework, the target for “green-prevent” was less than 10. Niagara Public Health has indicated that this number should be consistently below 15 for Section 22 orders to be lifted.
New cases per day: the total number of new cases identified per day over seven days using a rolling average. This number does not include identified outbreaks.
Percent of hospital beds occupied: the total percentage of the Niagara Health System’s hospital beds currently in use. The average occupancy rate of both acute care beds and total hospital beds in Ontario was 96 per cent in 2018-19. It should be noted that this rate was the highest (worst) in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Percent of intensive care beds occupied: the total percentage of the Niagara Health System’s intensive care hospital beds currently in use. The average occupancy rate of both acute care beds and total hospital beds in Ontario was 96 per cent in 2018-19. It should be noted that this rate was the highest (worst) in the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Percentage of positive tests: the percentage of COVID-19 tests that were positive. Under the outdated COVID-19 response framework, the target for “green-prevent” was less than 0.5%.
Niagara COVID vaccination tracker (June 23)
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: 403,333
Total doses administered in Niagara since yesterday: 6,617
Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen will begin when Ontario has vaccinated 70% of adults with one dose, 20% of adults with two doses, has positive public health indicators, and has been in Step One for at least 21 days.
|Percentage of population with one dose||Percentage of population fully vaccinated|