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Greater Niagara Chamber of Commerce

Daily Update: March 2nd, 2021

Ontario, Canada invest in arts sector

The Ontario government is supporting the arts sector with a one-time investment of $25 million to help artists and arts organizations survive the COVID-19 pandemic, remain solvent and prepare for a time when they can fully re-open their facilities, resume full programming and welcome back their visitors and audiences. The arts sector has been affected badly by the COVID-19 pandemic and the attendant loss of live events and audiences.

$24 million has been allocated to 140 organizations across the province, including the Niagara Symphony Association and the Shaw Festival.

Additionally, $1 million will provide much-needed support directly to artists and creators from across the province. More information on this, including eligibility requirements and application deadlines, will be available soon on the Ontario Arts Council website.

The Government of Canada also announced that it will allocate $181.5 million in funding for the live arts and music sectors in 2021–2022. This funding will support the planning and presentation of COVID-19-safe events in the arts and music sectors—including both live and digital—and provide work opportunities in these sectors. Funding will also help stabilize the overall environment for the arts and music sectors by providing a one-year renewal of funding for three Canadian Heritage programs originally provided in Budget 2019.

The Department of Canadian Heritage is receiving $40 million in new funding to stimulate short-term contracting of workers in the live events sector through three Canadian Heritage programs: Building Communities through Arts and Heritage, the Canada Arts Presentation Fund and the Canada Music Fund. Information on how to access the new fund will be available next week on the Canadian Heritage website.

Ontario Small Business Grants surpass $1 billion

The Ontario government has to-date provided more than $1 billion through the Ontario Small Business Support Grant to help eligible business owners affected by the COVID-19 restrictions. The grant provides a minimum of $10,000 to a maximum of $20,000 and can be used in whatever way makes the most sense for individual businesses; from paying employee wages, to offsetting the cost of rent, to purchasing inventory.

Applications are still open until March 31, 2021 and a detailed step-by-step instructional video on the application portal is available to help guide applicants through the process.

The government is also providing eligible businesses with rebates for property tax and energy costs. Grant programs are available through a simple online application, and businesses can learn more by visiting

Ontario is also helping small businesses go digital in order to reach more customers through the $57-million Digital Main Street program, supported by the federal and provincial government. This initiative is expected to help up to 22,900 Ontario businesses create and enhance their online presence by April 2021.

Small businesses can visit to learn about the many supports available to them. These include resources to find Ontario-made PPE through the Workplace PPE Supplier Directory, tailored local support through the Small Business COVID-19 Recovery Network, and obtain free financial advice.

St. Lawrence Seaway offering leases on prime industrial land

As part of a long-term growth and business diversification strategy, the St. Lawrence Seaway Management Corporation (SLSMC) is making prime industrial land available for lease on the Welland Canal.

The marine facility in Thorold, Ont., consists of six individual parcels of land and a 120-metre commercial dock that can accommodate Seaway full-sized vessels. The properties at Wharf 5 and 6 on the Welland Canal hit the market Jan. 27, through a request for proposals (RFP) on the MERX Canadian Public Tenders website. Qualified companies can apply for long-term leases on all or a portion of the available lands, located just 17 kilometres from the U.S. border at Niagara Falls and 111 kilometres from Toronto.

The Seaway ships to more than 50 countries around the world and generates $9 billion in economic activity each year. There are 150 million people within an eight-hour drive of most Seaway ports, and all are connected to highways and rail lines that provide access to major markets in North America.

The SLSMC is accepting proposals for the lands in Niagara until March 31, and will host site tours in the week of Feb. 22. For more information about St. Lawrence Seaway real estate, visit To submit a proposal under the Niagara RFP, visit the MERX website.

Grimsby Council approves 2021 budget

At the Council meeting of March 1, 2021, Grimsby Town Council approved the 2021 Budget. The operating and capital works associated with the 2021 Budget results in a 1.81 per cent tax levy increase over 2020. This increase amounts to an additional $21 per year ($1.75 a month), for an average residential household assessed at $443,686.

West Lincoln Council approves 2021 budget

At its March 1st Council meeting, the Township of West Lincoln approved a 2021 Operating Budget of $18.6 million and a 2021 Capital Budget of $5.9 million.

This budget is supported with a general tax levy of $8,130,140 that includes a new levy of $75,300 for the West Lincoln Memorial Hospital rebuild.  A homeowner with an average assessed home valued at $382,397 can expect to see their overall tax bill increase by an estimated 3.10% or $11.32/month. The 2021 budget focused on building adequate reserve levels and on expanding the volume of road rehabilitation works.  In addition, this budget commits funding for the hard-topping of a gravel road.

The Township is now able to provide budget data through OpenBook in an easy to use format using charts, graphs and maps.

Pelham to continue to allow “pop-up” patios

The Town of Pelham will continue to temporarily waive the requirement of up to 6 parking spaces for restaurants and allow those spaces to be used as ‘pop- up’ patios during the pandemic in 2021. These patios are temporary in nature and will only be allowed during the period of pandemic.

The Town also has a Sidewalk Encroachment Policy that allows for restaurants to apply to the Town for permission to encroach on the municipal right-of-way i.e. the sidewalk, for outdoor sidewalk patio use subject to meeting the policy requirements related to proof of insurance, provincial licensing requirements, pedestrian accessibility requirements and urban design zoning, sign and Building Code requirements. Approval of sidewalk patios under the Sidewalk Encroachment policy is managed through the Clerk’s Office and there is no fee associated with this permission.

Canadian Economy saw steepest annual decline on record in 2020

Gross domestic product and final domestic demand

Real gross domestic product (GDP) grew 2.3% in the fourth quarter of 2020, following record fluctuations in the previous two quarters. In 2020, real GDP shrank 5.4%, the steepest annual decline since quarterly data were first recorded in 1961. Final domestic demand rose 0.9% in the fourth quarter, but was down 4.5% for 2020 overall. Goods-producing industries were up 0.6% while services-producing industries edged down 0.1% as 12 of 20 industrial sectors increased in December.

The Canadian Chamber of Commerce called 2020 “a historically grim year for the Canadian economy,” but noted that “there are likely brighter days ahead.”

Business investment in engineering structures rose 1.6% in the fourth quarter, but investment in non-residential buildings fell 10.9%. This reflected weak demand for office buildings and shopping malls as remote working and online shopping became more common. Increased investment in machinery and equipment (+7.0%) coincided with higher imports of industrial machinery and equipment. Nevertheless, investment in machinery and equipment was down 16.4% in 2020.

Household spending edged down 0.1% in the fourth quarter, after a 13.1% increase in the third quarter. Spending was down 6.1% in 2020, compared with 2019.

The public sector (educational services, health care and social assistance, and public administration) grew 0.6% in December, as all three components were up. Health care and social assistance rose 0.8%, led by ambulatory health care services (+1.7%). The educational services sector was up 0.6%, as elementary and secondary schools contributed the most to the increase. Public administration grew 0.5% as all levels of government services recorded growth in December.

Sales in the retail trade sector fell 3.3% in December, after seven consecutive months of growth, as 10 of 12 subsectors were down. December saw the reintroduction of lockdown measures across many parts the country including the closure of all non-essential retailing and strict capacity and physical distancing control at essential retailers. Activity at gasoline stations declined 3.4% in December as stay-at-home orders and other measures contributed to lower gasoline product demand during what would typically be a busy driving season.

The reintroduction of lockdown measures and announcements of additional travel restrictions to come also took a bite out of accommodation and food services and contributed to a 6.8% contraction in the sector. Food services and drinking places were down 6.7%, as most types of restaurants and drinking places reported lower activity, while accommodation services shrank 7.1%.

The manufacturing sector contracted 1.1% in December, as lower sales and lower inventory contributed to the largest, and only the second decline in the sector since April.

Reading recommendations

AstraZeneca doses set to arrive tomorrow — but questions remain about who gets them first

John Paul Tasker, CBC News

The first batch of Canada’s supply of the AstraZeneca-Oxford vaccine is set to arrive tomorrow — but public health officials still have some distribution issues to sort out before they can deliver those shots. Health Canada approved the AstraZeneca product last Friday. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization (NACI), the independent panel that sets the guidelines for vaccine deployment, is not recommending that these shots be used in people aged 65 and over.

While Health Canada has determined the product is safe to use on all adults, NACI said there isn’t enough clinical trial data available to determine how effective this product is in preventing COVID-19 infection among people in this older cohort.

How employers can reduce vaccine hesitancy

Jessica H. Jones, Jeff Levin-Scherz, Julie Noblick, Harvard Business Review

Vaccines can only end this pandemic and prevent even more death and economic disruption if enough people get them, allowing a country to achieve herd immunity. Employers can play an essential role in achieving that goal by embracing the tenets of behavioral economics to combat vaccine hesitancy.

Featured Content

Winning the Hearts & Minds of your Employees

Nicholas Pollice, Pollice Management

The implied contract that has traditionally bound employees and employers has disappeared from the fabric of employee – employer relationships. Thousands of employees have experienced the agony and suffering that has been handed to them due to economic downturns, reduction in conversion costs, organizational rationalization, and mergers.

Employees today are far less loyal and committed to their organizations than what they were ten years ago and for good reason. Canadian Labour Statistics show that employees stay at each job for 4.5 years and the average expected tenure of younger employees is approximately 2.2 years. Tessa Basford and Bill Schaninger of McKinsey & Company say that their research shows that “job hopping” is the new normal where millennials (born 1981 – 1996) are expected to hold 15 – 20 positions over the course of their working career.

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.

 Incidence ratePercent positivityRt
Target: Green<10<0.5%<1
Target: Yellow10-24.90.5-1.2%1
Target: Orange25-39.91.3-2.4%1-1.1
Target: Red≥40≥2.5%≥1.2
Niagara Current154.2 ▲7.4% ▲1.2 ▼


  • 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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