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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: March 23rd, 2021

Government of Canada announces date of Budget 2021

The Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, will present Budget 2021 in the House of Commons on April 19, 2021, at approximately 4:00 p.m. ET.

Government of Canada announces funding for employers to create accessible and inclusive workplaces for employees with disabilities

Today, the Minister of Employment, Workforce Development and Disability Inclusion, Carla Qualtrough, announced funding of approximately $3 million through the National Workplace Accessibility Stream for the Canadian Council on Rehabilitation and Work (CCRW) and its Accommodation and Inclusion Management (AIM) program. The program was created to help employers build healthy and productive workplaces.

Through AIM, CCRW provides Canadian employers funding and expert advice to set up workplace accommodations like adaptive technologies, ergonomic equipment for home offices, and individual needs assessments for employees. Online training and an evidence-based support framework will help employers successfully implement accommodations in their operations. CCRW will also produce 150 workplace accommodation profiles to maintain existing jobs and help create new job opportunities for persons with disabilities by reducing barriers in the workplace. The goal is to help Canadian businesses and organizations of all sizes and from a variety of sectors maximize accessibility and build healthier, more inclusive workplaces.

Government of Canada to fund COVID-19 Safe Voluntary Isolation Sites in Ontario

Today, the Honourable Patty Hajdu, Minister of Health, announced $23.7 million for the Province of Ontario to operate a number of safe, voluntary isolation sites in various communities identified under Ontario’s High Priority Community Strategy.

Voluntary isolation sites reduce the risks of spreading the virus among household contacts, both in Canada’s densely populated urban centres, as well as in locations where people are faced with crowded housing and resources constraints. These sites are one of the rapid response tools we have to help stop the spread of COVID-19, and they can be deployed to communities facing outbreaks.

The Safe Voluntary Isolation Sites program exists to fill a gap for cities, municipalities and health regions that are at-risk of high rates of COVID-19 transmission. Evidence continues to indicate that individuals from lower income and densely populated neighbourhoods are disproportionately affected by COVID-19, including its most severe outcomes.

This funding to the Province of Ontario, over the course of six months, will allow the continued operation of sites in Toronto, Peel, York and Durham, totalling up to 1,600 rooms to accommodate identified individuals who are unable to self-isolate safely at home.

Diversifying the Federal Supply Chain Summit will help businesses access federal contract opportunities

Canada’s Procurement Ombudsman will host the Diversifying the Federal Supply Chain Virtual Summit on March 23-25, 2021.

Now in its third year, the Summit is being organized to increase the diversity of federal government suppliers and raise awareness of the public and private sector programs that can help all gender identities, Indigenous Peoples, racialized people, persons with disabilities and other minority groups access federal contracting opportunities.

Guest speakers:

The event will be held on March 23-25, 2021, beginning at 12:00 p.m. (EDT) each of the 3 days.

Niagara Falls to join Earth Hour 2021

On Saturday, 27 March at 8:30 p.m. local time, the City of Niagara Falls, Park in the City Committee, and Niagara Falls Illumination Board will join Earth Hour, one of the largest global grassroots movements for the environment, and unite with individuals, businesses and communities around the globe in a powerful call to action of hope for a better, healthier planet.

Non-essential lighting at City facilities and the nightly illumination of Niagara Falls will go dark for Earth Hour. Street lighting and other lighting essential for safety will not be included.

Residents and businesses are encouraged to take part by turning out their lights. Mayor Diodati encourages all to take part in Earth Hour’s Virtual Spotlight.

New this year, Earth Hour’s Virtual Spotlight features a special video that Earth Hour organizers promise will display our planet and the issues we face in a new light. Earth Hour plans to post the video on all of their social media channels on March 27 in hope that millions of people, businesses and leaders from around the world will watch, share, and shine a spotlight on the urgent need to address nature loss and climate change.

Port Colborne restaurant patios can open as early as April 1

Port Colborne restaurants can open their patios as early as April 1, 2021, as per the Outdoor Patio and Display Exemptions.

As approved by City Council last year, temporary initiatives were implemented to help local restaurants create additional seating capacity outside to adhere to provincial regulations.

For the 2021 patio season, the following will be implemented:

  • Temporary patios and/or outdoor displays permitted on private property that comply with zoning and city guidelines
  • COVID patio permit fees waived for businesses for the 2021 calendar year related to patio installation and/or outdoor displays
  • Existing approved outdoor patios and outdoor displays on private property are permitted to continue without the need for additional approval from the City, unless there is a proposal to enlarge and/or create a new patio
  • Existing approved outdoor patios are permitted to start as early as April 1, 2021
  • New outdoor patios that will be erected on City property will need to apply online 
  • Prior to erecting any patios on City property, businesses must provide a current insurance certificate naming the City as an additional insured. If the business is located on West Street, please also add The St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation.

The following provincial requirements under the Reopening Ontario Act, 2020 and its regulations apply to outdoor dining at restaurants and bars:

  • If an outdoor dining area at the establishment is covered by a roof, canopy, tent, awning or other element, at least two full sides of the entire outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.
  • If the outdoor dining area at the establishment is equipped with a retractable roof and the roof is retracted, at least one full side of the outdoor dining area must be open to the outdoors and must not be substantially blocked by any walls or other impermeable physical barriers.

Capacity limits for outdoor dining are based on physical distancing requirements. Capacity is limited by the ability to keep two meters apart from others within the outdoor dining space.

Reading recommendations

The Beach Bum Who Beat Wall Street and Made Millions on GameStop

David Hill, The Ringer

JJim Cramer, the normally amped-up host of CNBC’s Mad Money, a stock market show complete with sound effects and wacky props and flashy graphics, looked subdued and serious during his January 14 broadcast. “I want to talk about some very important shortages that are going on in the market that you probably don’t know about,” Cramer said. He looked directly into the camera and explained a short squeeze—a concept everyone in America now seems to understand but that was still fairly obscure just a couple of weeks ago. “I don’t normally discuss these issues. … It’s a nightmare.”

Cramer described his own experience losing money in a short squeeze 30 years ago during the savings and loan crisis. His tone was concerned, quiet. “When you short a stock you are always on the hook to your broker and sometimes that blows up right in your face. And right now, it is blowing up in somebody’s face big time.”

COVID-19’s parallel pandemic: Why we need a mental health ‘vaccine’

Renée El-Gabalawy, Jordana Sommer, The Conversation

Younger people are at lower risk of severe health outcomes if they develop COVID-19, and are therefore not a priority group for vaccine rollout. However, a silent mental health pandemic wave is in full force, and this time it is targeting younger age groups.

It is well recognized that older age groups (ages 60+) are at increased risk of severe illness and death if they develop COVID-19. As such, several regions are rolling out vaccines according to age, with priority for older adults.

The pandemic’s impact on mental health throughout our society will likely outlive COVID-19. As clinical psychologists and trauma researchers, our team is interested in understanding mental health risk and resilience factors during COVID-19. In terms of high-risk groups from a mental health perspective, early evidence suggests that the age trends are inverted, where younger people are at the highest risk of poor mental health outcomes.

Our recent study published in the Canadian Journal of Psychiatry looked at early anxiety symptoms during the pandemic. In close to 50,000 Canadians across several age groups, we showed this trend.

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.

 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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