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COVID-19 Resources for Businesses

Posted in News & Updates

COVID-19 Resources for Businesses

Updated: Oct. 23

Updates

Support for Businesses

St. Catharines Rapid Response Team

Business Resources

Contacts

Updates

Oct. 23


  • Ontario is reporting 826 new cases of COVID-19. Niagara is reporting 8 new cases.


  • The Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, today announced an investment of up to $173 million through the Strategic Innovation Fund (SIF) in Quebec City-based Medicago to support Canada’s response to COVID-19 and future preparedness. The project, valued at a total of $428 million, will advance Medicago’s virus-like particle vaccine, developed on the company’s unique plant-based production platform, through clinical trials. It will also establish a large-scale vaccine and antibody production facility to increase Canada’s domestic biomanufacturing capacity.

    Read More

Oct. 22

  • The Ontario Energy Board updated eligibility criteria to help more energy customers qualify for assistance. Small business customers who made partial payments in early 2020 for amounts owing on their bills prior to March 17 are now eligible to apply for CEAP-SB.

    You may be eligible if:
    - there were not any overdue amounts on your small business or registered charity electricity bill on March 17, 2020, the date of the Provincial Declaration of Emergency, or there were at least partial payments on amounts overdue prior to March 17, 2020.
    - after March 17 you failed to make complete payment for the electricity charges (as applicable) on at least two bills issued since March 17, 2020, and have an overdue balance on the date of their application for CEAP.If the customer made partial payments on their bills, they may still qualify for CEAP.
    - your small business or registered charity premises was required to close to the public for regular operations for at least 15 days as a result of a government order or inability to comply with public health recommendations.
    - as of the date you are applying you have any overdue amounts owing from at least two electricity bills since March 17, 2020, your account may be eligible for a credit towards your electricity arrears.

    Small business and registered charity customers may be eligible for up to $850 in support towards their electricity bill if they primarily use electricity for heating, or up to $425 otherwise.

    Learn More



Oct. 20

  •  Today, during Small Business Week, the Honourable Mary Ng, Minister of Small Business, Export Promotion and International Trade, announced an investment of $12 million to support the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund.

    Read More

    Through the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund, grants up to $5,000 are available to small businesses to help cover the costs of physical modifications to their businesses to meet local health and safety requirements. The grant can also be used to help with  the cost of Personal Protection Equipment and enhance e-commerce capabilities so businesses can do more business online. Canadian small businesses can learn more and apply for the grant online.

    Learn More and Apply


  • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is extending most orders currently in force under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020 (ROA). This extension will be in effect until November 21, 2020 to ensure the government continues to have the necessary tools to contain the spread of COVID-19.

    Orders in effect under the ROA have been extended by 30 days with the following exceptions:
    - Electricity Price for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) Consumers has only been extended until October 31, 2020.  Beginning November 1, 2020, time-of-use customers will have the option of choosing between time-of-use electricity rates or tiered pricing.
    - Access to Personal Health Information by Means of the Electronic Health Record will expire on October 22, 2020 as changes to the Personal Health Information Protection Act, 2004, that recently came into force, make the order unnecessary.

    Ream More


  • Ontario is also amending emergency orders for regions under modified Stage 2 regulations (Toronto, Ottawa, York and Peel Regions) to clarify that classes delivered for the purpose of teaching or training amateur or professional dancers in dance techniques are permitted to operate provided specified conditions are met. This change to the regulation recognizes that dance styles such as ballet, hip hop, and ballroom, can still be taught and practised safely when certain public health measures are followed, similar to other permitted activities, such as cheerleading and gymnastics. Dance classes that do not meet the specified criteria (e. g. a Zumba class) would not be permitted.

    Additionally, regulations Rules for Areas in Stage 2 and Rules for Areas in Stage 3 have been amended to remove restrictions on in-person teaching and instruction for fire departments. The amendments, similar to what is currently in place for police training, are critical for public safety and the safety of fire department personnel.


  • The list of orders under the ROA that have been extended can be found online.

    Read More

  • Ontario is reporting 821 new cases of COVID-19. Niagara is reporting 15 new cases.


Oct. 19

  • The non-essential travel restrictions at the Canada-United States border have been extended and will remain in place until November 21st, 2020.


  • The Ontario government released an action plan to make government services simpler, easier to use, and more convenient and accessible during the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond. The Ontario Onwards: Ontario's COVID-19 Action Plan for a People-Focused Government includes more than 30 projects that will improve the way people and businesses interact with government, saving them both time and money.

    Read More


  • Today, Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health issued public health advice for Halloween this year. To have a safe and happy Halloween, Ontarians should follow some simple steps:
    - Avoid gatherings with people outside of your household;
    - Stay home if you are feeling ill, even if you have mild symptoms, or if you are at higher risk for serious illness from COVID-19;
    - If you live outside the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions and are going to go out to trick or treat:
          - Only go out with members of your household;
          - Only trick or treat outside;
          - Both trick or treaters and people handing out candy should wear a face covering. A costume mask is not a substitute for a face covering and should not be worn over a face covering as it may make it difficult to breathe;
          - Do not congregate or linger at doorsteps and remember to line up two metres apart if waiting. Avoid high-touch surfaces and objects;
          - Whether collecting or handing out treats, wash your hands often and thoroughly, or use hand sanitizer; and
          - Do not leave treats in a bucket or bowl for children to grab and consider using tongs or other similar tools to hand out treats.

  • Given the high transmission of COVID-19 in the modified Stage 2 public health unit regions of Ottawa, Peel, Toronto and York Region, traditional door-to-door trick or treating is not recommended and people should consider alternative ways to celebrate. At this time, these restrictions do not apply to St. Catharines. However, the Province recommends  you also check with your local municipality or public health unit for any additional advice or restrictions that may be in place. It is also critical that families not travel outside of their neighbourhood to celebrate Halloween.

  • The Chief Medical Officer of Health also advises the severity of this second wave is in our hands and reminds it is critical for everyone to continue following these important actions everyday in order to protect your health and stop the spread of COVID-19, including:
    - Limiting trips outside of home, except for essential purposes such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity;
    - Staying home if you feel ill or have symptoms even if they are mild;
    - Maintaining physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
    - Wearing a face covering indoors in workplaces, businesses and facilities, and wear one outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained or if wearing one is required;
    - Washing your hands thoroughly and regularly;
    - Following social gathering and organized public event limits;
    - Downloading the COVID Alert mobile app.

    If you are concerned you were exposed to COVID-19 or have symptoms, take the online COVID-19 self-assessment. Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you have been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through COVID Alert. Visit Ontario.ca/covidtest to find the nearest testing location.


  • Ontario is reporting 704 new cases of COVID-19. Niagara is reporting 15new cases.


Oct. 16

  • Ontario is reporting 712 new cases of COVID-19. Niagara is reporting six new cases and one death today.


  • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Public Health Measures Table, local medical officers of health and other health experts, the Ontario government is introducing additional health measures for York Region. Effective Oct. 19 at 12:01 a.m. York Region will be subject to modified Stage 2 restrictions for a minimum of 28 days and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

    At this time, these restrictions do not apply to St. Catharines. York Region joins Ottawa, Peel and Toronto public health regions in a modified Stage 2, as a result of their trends in public health indicators, including higher than average rates of COVID-19 transmission.

    Read More


Oct. 15

  • Ontario is reporting 783 new cases of COVID-19.


  • Today is Global Handwashing Day. One of the most effective ways to help stop the Spread of COVID-19 is also one of the simplest: by washing your hands with soap and water thoroughly and often.

    Learn More


Oct. 14

  • The Ontario government is adding to the precautions taken last week to protect residents and staff in the province's long-term care homes. Effective October 16 and until further notice, short-term and temporary absences for social or personal reasons will not be allowed at long-term care homes in areas of the province where there is higher community spread of COVID-19. Only absences for medical or compassionate reasons will be allowed.

    At this time, these restrictions do not apply to St. Catharines. The communities where these restrictions apply are:
    - City of Ottawa
    - Region of Peel
    - City of Toronto

    Read More


  • Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is urging all Ontarians to:
    - Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes only such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity;
    - In addition, travel to other regions in the province, especially from higher transmission to lower transmission areas, should only be for essential purposes;
    - Practise physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
    - Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so;
    - Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and following gathering limits and rules;
    - Stay home when ill, or keep your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms;
    - Adhere to gathering limits and rules.


  • The Ontario government is taking immediate action to expand case and contact management to help track, trace and isolate new cases of COVID-19.

    The province has hired 100 new contact tracers, many of whom are starting work this week, with up to 500 more recruits expected to be hired by mid-November. These new positions are part the province's fall preparedness plan, Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19, which dedicates $1.376 billion to enhance and expand testing and contact tracing in the province.

    Read More


  • Farmers are continuously impacted by market volatility and disruptions which worsened due to COVID-19. The Ontario government calling for federal action to assist farmers, including:
    - federal government support through immediate enhancement of the federal-provincial-territorial AgriStability program to ensure our farmers get the support they need;
    - removal of the feature of AgriStability, called the Reference Margin Limit, and to lower the margin-loss threshold required to trigger program payments to provide more coverage against income declines.

    Read More


  • Ontario is reporting 721 new cases of COVID-19.


  • During a special council meeting Oct. 13, St. Catharines City Council passed an amendment extending the by-law to include common areas of residential apartment buildings, condominiums, hotels, motels, rental, and other accommodations, such as lobbies, elevators, meeting rooms, rest rooms, laundry rooms, gyms, and kitchens or other common use facilities.

    Learn More


Oct. 13

  • The Ontario government is investing over $1.4 million to expand production of COVID-19 testing supplies and further support the province in the ongoing fight against COVID-19. Through the Ontario Together Fund, the government is delivering targeted investments that will increase the province's stockpile of Ontario-made products and PPE. Businesses and individuals looking to help in the fight against COVID-19 can submit their proposals through the Ontario Together web portal.

    Read More


  • The Ontario government is helping to keep the cost of energy low for families, small businesses and farmers by keeping electricity rates stable and providing customers with more choice and energy assistance programs.

    Customers eligible for the Ontario Electricity Rebate (OER) will automatically receive a 33.2 per cent reduction off their energy bill when new electricity rates for Regulated Price Plan (RPP) customers come into effect November 1, 2020. At the same time, customers paying Time-of-Use (TOU) rates under the RPP will also have the option to switch to tiered rate pricing. Time-of-use electricity rates vary by time of day and are comprised of three different rate periods of off-peak, mid-peak and on-peak pricing. Tiered electricity rates provide customers with a set rate for electricity up to a certain level of consumption.

    COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business
    The province also revised eligibility requirements for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) and the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business (CEAP-SB). Households, small businesses and charitable organizations who made partial payments on amounts owing before the COVID-19 emergency period are now eligible for the CEAP and CEAP-SB one-time on-bill credit to help pay down electricity bill debt.

    The expanded eligibility also eliminates the requirement for residential consumers to be unemployed when applying for CEAP. Local utilities will re-assess previously rejected applications and start accepting new applications on October 16, 2020.

    Energy Affordability Program
    Ontario is also introducing a new streamlined Energy Affordability Program (EAP) for households struggling to pay their electricity bills. Beginning the week of January 4, 2021, EAP will:
    - Provide free electricity saving measures to help participating households manage their electricity-use and lower their electricity costs by up to $1,000 per year;
    - Tailor energy-efficiency upgrades based on household income, home heating system, location, and an energy needs assessment; and,
    - Simplify access to new and updated electricity saving measures through a single program that replaces the Affordability Fund Trust and Home Assistance Program, which are ending in 2020.

    Read More


  • Last week, the Ontario government introduced additional targeted public health measures in Toronto, Ottawa and Peel Region in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts to help slow the spread of the virus. Over the next 28 days, indoor food and drink service at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments in these regions will be prohibited, but they may continue to offer takeout, delivery and outdoor dining.

    To provide relief for local restaurants and other businesses impacted by the new public health measures, today Ontario announced $300 million to help offset fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.

    Read More

    The government is also supporting small business through its Main Street Recovery Plan by:
    - Committing to permanently allow licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order before the existing regulation expires;
    - Permanently allowing 24/7 deliveries to restaurants;
    - Supporting the distribution of local food and food products by increasing the range of products sold at the Ontario Food Terminal;
    - Ending outdated and duplicative rules so businesses can focus on their work;
    - Modernizing regulations to allow businesses to innovate and meet the challenges of today;
    - Providing mental health supports to business owners and employees who are struggling;
    - Providing $57 million with federal partners through the Digital Main Street program and creating new Digital Main Street squads to help small businesses grow online; and
    - Launching a new portal to assist small businesses to quickly find the supports and information they need.

    Read More

  • The governments of Canada and Ontario are taking additional steps to help farmers better protect the health and safety of agri-food workers in the province during the COVID-19 outbreak to ensure the continued supply of locally grown food all year round.

    A new agreement between Ontario and the federal government will see Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada invest an additional $11.6 million to help support efforts by Ontario producers to stop the spread of COVID-19 on their farms. Actions such as building physical barriers for worker separation, upgrading HVAC systems and enhancing hand-washing facilities will be eligible for this funding.

    Read More


  • Ontario is reporting 746 new cases of COVID-19.


  • Applications are open for the first period (September 27 to October 10) of the Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB), a program that gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits.

    Individuals eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period. If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

    Apply for CRB


Oct. 10

  • Premier Doug Ford is urging all Ontarians to celebrate Thanksgiving with their immediate household.

    In a statement releases today, Premier Ford said, "On the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, it's not enough to limit the size of Thanksgiving gatherings to 10 people or less. We must all do our part to keep gathering sizes small by sticking to our immediate households.

    "If you live alone, you may join one other household to ensure no one is alone or isolated this holiday season, but please take the necessary precautions to keep gatherings small.

    "We are also encouraging everyone to please stay home and limit trips outside the home, except to go to work or school, pick up groceries or medicines, keep a medical appointment, or to exercise.

    "Remember to continue to practise physical distancing with those outside your immediate household, wear masks when inside public places or when physical distancing is a challenge, wash your hands frequently, stay home if you are unwell, and download the COVID Alert mobile app.

    Read More


  • Ontario is reporting 809 new cases of COVID-19.


Oct. 9

  • Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health is urging all Ontarians to:
    - Limit trips outside of home, except for essential purposes only such as work where it is not possible to work from home, school, grocery shopping, medical appointments, and outdoor healthy physical activity;
    - In addition, travel to other regions in the province, especially from higher transmission to lower transmission areas, should only be for essential purposes;
    - Practise physical distancing of at least two metres with those outside your household;
    - Wear a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so; and
    - Wash your hands frequently and thoroughly; and following gathering limits and rules.

    The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation across the province to advise if and when public health measures or restrictions should be adjusted or tightened.


  • As these necessary public health measures come at a cost to small businesses, Ontario has planned to and will make $300 million available to assist significantly affected businesses with fixed costs, including property taxes, hydro and natural gas bills.

    This support will be provided by the province and will be made available in any region where these measures are necessary. More details will be released in the coming days.


  • Based on recent health data identifying alarming public health trends that require immediate attention and early action to keep people safe, the Ontario government is introducing additional targeted public health measures in the following public health unit regions:
    - Ottawa
    - Peel
    - Toronto

    Effective Saturday, October 10, 2020 at 12:01 a.m. the following modified Stage 2 restrictions will be in place for a minimum of 28 days and reviewed on an ongoing basis:
    - Reducing limits for all social gatherings and organized public events to a maximum of 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors where physical distancing can be maintained. The two limits may not be combined for an indoor-outdoor event;
    - Prohibiting indoor food and drink service in restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, including nightclubs and food court areas in malls;
    - Closing of:
         - Indoor gyms and fitness centres (i.e., exercise classes and weight and exercise rooms);
         - Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
         - Indoor cinemas;
         - Performing arts centres and venues;
         - Spectator areas in racing venues;
         - Interactive exhibits or exhibits with high risk of personal contact in museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, etc.;
    - Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming)
    - Prohibiting personal care services where face coverings must be removed for the service (e.g. makeup application, beard trimming);
    - Reducing the capacity limits for:Tour and guide services to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors
    - Real estate open houses to 10 people indoors, where physical distancing can be maintained.
    - In-person teaching and instruction (e.g. cooking class) to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, with exemptions for schools, child care centres, universities, colleges of applied arts and technology, private career colleges, the Ontario Police College, etc.
    - Meeting and event spaces to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors, and
    - Limiting team sports to training sessions (no games or scrimmages).

    Schools, child care centres, and places of worship will remain open in these communities and must continue to follow the public health measures in place. Before-school and after-school programs will also be exempt from these new restrictions.

    Read More


  • Today the Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, announced the government’s intention to introduce new, targeted supports to help hard-hit businesses and other organizations experiencing a drop in revenue.

    The government plans to introduce legislation to provide support that would help these businesses safely get through the second wave of the virus and the winter, cover costs so they can continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery, including:

    - The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would provide simple and easy-to-access rent and mortgage support until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The rent subsidy would be provided directly to tenants, while also providing support to property owners. The new rent subsidy would support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop, by subsidizing a percentage of their expenses, on a sliding scale, up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. Organizations would be able to make claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ends October 24, 2020.

    - A top-up Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy of 25 per cent for organizations temporarily shut down by a mandatory public health order issued by a qualifying public health authority, in addition to the 65 per cent subsidy. This follows a commitment in the Speech from the Throne to provide direct financial support to businesses temporarily shut down as a result of a local public health decision.

    - The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021, which would continue to protect jobs by helping businesses keep employees on the payroll and encouraging employers to re-hire their workers. The subsidy would remain at the current subsidy rate of up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020. This measure is part of the government’s commitment to create over 1 million jobs and restore employment to the level it was before the pandemic.

    - An expanded Canada Emergency Business Account (CEBA), which would enable businesses, and not-for-profits eligible for CEBA loans—and that continue to be seriously impacted by the pandemic—to access an interest-free loan of up to $20,000, in addition to the original CEBA loan of $40,000. Half of this additional financing would be forgivable if repaid by December 31, 2022. Additionally, the application deadline for CEBA is being extended to December 31, 2020. Further details, including the launch date and application process will be announced in the coming days. An attestation of the impact of COVID-19 on the business will be required to access the additional financing.

    Read More


  • Ontario is reporting 939 new cases of COVID-19. There were nine new case in Niagara.


Oct. 8

  • Ontario is reporting 797 new cases of COVID-19. There were nine new case in Niagara.


  • Ontario is investing $9 million through the new Reconnect Festival and Event Program to support municipalities and event organizers during COVID-19.

    This funding will be used to maintain public safety requirements and allow people to reconnect with their communities through online, drive-through and other innovative experiences. Organizers will be developing creative programs such as virtual Remembrance Day events, reverse holiday parades with drive-by static floats, drive-in music concerts and movies, holiday tree lightings and New Year's Eve displays that light-up iconic buildings.

    Read More


Oct. 7

  • Today, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau spoke with Ontario Premier Doug Ford to discuss the global COVID-19 pandemic, including:
    - the rising number of COVID-19 cases in Ontario and ways to help contain the spread of the virus, including through increased testing and encouraging people to download the COVID Alert app;
    - Thanksgiving and how essential it is that Ontarians and all Canadians follow the advice of public health professionals;
    - expressing their hope that as people limit their exposure to others this weekend, they will help flatten the curve and make holiday gatherings possible in December.

    Prime Minister Trudeau highlighted the federal support for the province, including through the Safe Restart Agreement and the Safe Return to Class Fund, and restated his commitment to helping Ontario respond to the pandemic.

    Read More


  • The Ontario government is making the skilled trades more accessible by investing an additional $75 million over the next two years to help apprentices cover living expenses during their in-class training. The government is also appointing a five-member Skilled Trades Panel to provide advice and recommendations to the Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development on developing a new approach to training and certification.

    Read More


  • With today’s announcement from the Ontario Government on its Main Street Recovery Plan, we wanted to share with you some of the actions that we’re taking to help main street businesses recover and meet the ongoing challenges that they face from COVID-19.

    This week, we officially launched our new Digital Service Squad as a part of our efforts to help support main street businesses in our downtown, in Port Dalhousie and on Queenston and Facer streets as they adapt their businesses to the online world. We’d like to introduce Britney, Andrea and Sarah as they’ll be reaching out to businesses in the coming weeks to provide one-on-one support on enhancing your online presence.

    Our team at the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre is offering program supports to help main street and small businesses face the challenges brought on by COVID-19, including its Starter Company Plus, which provides business training with eligibility for a $5,000 grant and mentoring services for new businesses.

    Also, don’t forget that Digital Main Street offers several ways to support main street businesses build their online presence, including:
    - Digital Transformation Grant for $2,500 (deadline November 30)
    - ShopHERE powered by Google program for help building FREE e-commerce websites for small businesses
    - Future Proof program for help taking your online presence to the next level.


  • Today, the Ontario Government announced its Main Street Recovery Plan supporting small main street businesses to modernize and innovate to meet today’s challenges, including a one-time grant of up to $1,000 for to help offset the unexpected costs of PPE.

    The province also introduced the Main Street Recovery Act, 2020, proposed legislation that, if passed, will remove hurdles faced by small businesses and allow them to pursue new opportunities — while maintaining or enhancing protections for public health, safety and the environment.

    If passed, this would include a one-time grant of up to $1,000 for eligible main street small businesses to help offset the unexpected costs of personal protective equipment (PPE), as well as regulatory and legislative changes to help businesses adapt to the challenges that they face. Grant applications will open later this year. More details on this to come,

    Read more


  • Meet our Digital Service Squad, part of our efforts to help support main street businesses in our downtown, in Port Dalhousie and on Queenston and Facer streets as they adapt their businesses to the online world.

    Digital Service Squad

    The squad will be reaching out over the next few weeks to provide one-on-one support on enhancing your online presence. Or, you can contact them directly:

    - Andrea Miele
    amiele@stcatharines.ca 
    289.219.0873

    - Britney Conlon
    bconlon@stcatharines.ca 
    905.327.1499

    - Sarah Scott
    sscott@stcatharines.ca
    905.323.5657


  • Ontario is reporting 583 new cases of COVID-19.

Oct. 6

  • The Ontario government continues to deliver on its commitment to remove regulatory roadblocks, cut red tape and support job creation with the introduction of the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, 2020. The legislation is part of the province's made-in-Ontario plan for growth, renewal and economic recovery.  If passed, the act will strengthen Ontario's economic recovery, support businesses on the ground, and help government deliver clear and effective rules that promote public health and safeguard the environment without sacrificing innovation, growth and opportunity.

    Read More


  • Ontario is reporting 548 new cases of COVID-19. Niagara has 17 new cases.


Oct. 5

  • With the weather beginning to change the City of St. Catharines has introduced new guidelines for temporary outdoor patios  for those who wish to continue operation during colder weather.

    Learn more


  • Today in St. Catharines, the Ontario government announced it has invested $500,000 to help 92 Niagara-area residents train for careers as personal support workers (PSWs). This training is helping people from all walks of life gain the skills they need to pursue careers providing care and comfort for those living in long-term care homes or at home with an illness or injury.

    The announcement was made by Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development, at Lifetime Learning, the District School Board of Niagara adult education centre running the training program. It came just days after the province announced it is supporting PSWs and direct support workers by investing $461 million to temporarily enhance wages.

    Unemployment in St. Catharines-Niagara has approximately doubled since pre-pandemic levels, according to Statistics Canada, and stood at 23,300 as of August. Online job postings in the region show that educational assistants, metal processing inspectors and home support workers are among the most in-demand workers. This training helps address the need for more personal support workers, particularly given the region's aging population.

    Learn more


  • Applications are now open for the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit (CRSB). The CRSB gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they're sick or need to self-isolate due to COVID-19, or have an underlying health condition that puts them at greater risk of getting COVID-19. The CRSB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

    If you're eligible for the CRSB, you can receive $500 ($450 after taxes withheld) for a 1-week period.

    If your situation continues past 1 week, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 2 weeks between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

    Learn more and apply


  • The Canada Recovery Benefit (CRB) gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are directly affected by COVID-19 and are not entitled to Employment Insurance (EI) benefits. The CRB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

    If you are eligible for the CRB, you can receive $1,000 ($900 after taxes withheld) for a 2-week period.

    If your situation continues past 2 weeks, you will need to apply again. You may apply up to a total of 13 eligibility periods (26 weeks) between September 27, 2020 and September 25, 2021.

    Applications to CRB have not opened yet. Details about how you can apply will be available on Oct. 12.

    Learn more


  • Applications for the Canada Recovery Caregiving Benefit (CRCB) open today. The CRCB gives income support to employed and self-employed individuals who are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care. This applies if their school, regular program or facility is closed or unavailable to them due to COVID-19, or because they're sick, self-isolating, or at risk of serious health complications due to COVID-19. The CRCB is administered by the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA).

    Learn more and apply


Oct. 3

  • Ontario is reporting 653 new cases of COVID-19. Niagara has 10 new cases.

Oct. 2

  • The Government of Canada is further strengthening the public health presence at the border and enhancing quarantine monitoring. The government is also increasing the use of digital forms and processes to allow critical information to be shared more quickly with provinces and territories.

    In addition, a process is being introduced to support enhanced family reunification, including those in long-term exclusive relationships, international students and entry for compassionate reasons. More specifically, these processes will provide for the entry of:
    - certain extended family members of Canadian citizens and Canadian permanent residents, including those in an exclusive dating relationship of at least 1 year and their dependent children, as well as adult children, grandchildren, siblings and grandparents
    - foreign nationals for compassionate reasons in specific circumstances, such as life-threatening illness, critical injury or death, with potential limited release from quarantine
    - international students, starting October 20, 2020, if they will be attending a designated learning institution that has been identified by their provincial or territorial government as having a COVID‑19 readiness plan in place

    More details will be available on the Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada website Oct. 8. The government continues to enforce and strengthen travel restrictions and border measures that have been in place since March 2020. The mandatory quarantine measures, which require travellers to quarantine or isolate for 14 days immediately upon entry to Canada (unless they are expressly exempt), have been effective.

    Read more

  • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health and public health experts, the Ontario government is tightening public health measures.

    Effective Oct 3, Ontario is implementing more public health  measures in response to the 2nd wave of #COVID19. To #StopTheSpread, face coverings are mandatory in indoor settings, like businesses, facilities and workplaces with limited exemptions.

    In addition, the government is:
    - Extending the pause on any further reopening of businesses, facilities, and organizations for an additional 28 days, unless already permitted to open under O. Reg 364/20;
    - Pausing social circles and advising that all Ontarians allow close contact only with people living in their own household and maintain two metres physical distancing from everyone else. Individuals who live alone may consider having close contact with another household; and
    - Finalizing additional guidance for seniors (70 and over) on how to minimize their risk of acquiring COVID-19, including for upcoming annual gatherings such as Thanksgiving and Remembrance Day.

    Read more

  • The Ontario Government also implemented targeted measures in Ottawa, Peel, and Toronto as a result of their higher than average rates of transmission, including:
    - Setting an indoor capacity limit to restrict occupancy at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) to the number of patrons who can maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from every other patron, to a maximum of 100 patrons, permitting no more than six patrons per table, requiring operators to ensure patrons lining up or congregating outside of their establishment maintain physical distancing, and mandating that the name and contact information for each patron be collected;
    - Restricting group exercise classes at gyms and other fitness settings to 10 individuals, as well as restricting the total number of people allowed at these facilities to a maximum of 50; and
    - Setting a limit on the number of people allowed at meeting and event facilities, including banquet halls, to six people per table and 50 people per facility.

  • Today, the Government of Canada announced an additional $184 million for FedDev Ontario to help more businesses across southern Ontario through the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF). This funding for FedDev Ontario is part of an additional $600 million in RRRF funding announced today for RDAs across the country. Community Futures Development Corporations (CFDCs) will provide $30 million of FedDev Ontario’s additional funding to businesses in rural communities across southern Ontario.

    Read more

  • Ontario is reporting 732 new cases of COVID-19.

Oct. 1

  • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Ontario government is updating its COVID-19 school and child care screening guidance. This additional information will help parents determine when it is most appropriate for students, children and their families to seek a test for COVID-19.

    Read more

  • The Digital Service Squad is back in St. Catharines to help main street small businesses enhance their digital presence.

    As small businesses adapt to the challenges posed by COVID-19, enhancing their digital presence is more important than ever. The City of St. Catharines is here to help with support from FedDev Ontario and the Ontario BIA Association to bring the Digital Main Street Squad to businesses on Facer and Queenston streets, in Port Dalhousie and Downtown St. Catharines.

    Read more

  • The Ontario government is supporting personal support workers (PSWs) and direct support workers in the home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sectors by investing $461 million to temporarily enhance wages. This investment will help the province attract and retain the workforce needed to care for patients, clients and residents in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Read more

  • The Government of Canada announced $10 billion in new major infrastructure initiatives to create jobs and economic growth.

    The Canada Infrastructure Bank’s (CIB) Growth Plan will help Canadians get back to work and is expected to create approximately 60,000 jobs across the country. The three-year plan will connect more households and small businesses to high-speed Internet, strengthen Canadian agriculture, and help build a low-carbon economy.

    Read more

  • Ontario is reporting 538 new cases of COVID-19

Sept. 30

  • Health Canada has approved a rapid COVID-19 test, although there are currently no timelines when it will be available.



  • The Ontario government has developed a $2.8 billion COVID-19 fall preparedness plan to ensure the province's health care, long-term care and education systems are prepared for the immediate challenges of the fall, including a second wave of COVID-19 and the upcoming flu season.

    Keeping Ontarians Safe: Preparing for Future Waves of COVID-19 will enable the province to quickly identify, prevent and respond to surges and waves of the virus to protect the health and safety of all Ontarians. The plan focuses on six key areas to rapidly identify and respond to COVID-19 outbreaks and surges, build health system capacity, and reinforce the province's health care workforce. These areas include:
    - Maintaining strong public health measures, including continued expansion of testing and case and contact management
    - Implementing the largest flu immunization campaign in Ontario's history
    - Quickly identifying, managing and preventing COVID-19 outbreaks
    - Accelerating efforts to reduce health service backlogs
    - Accelerating efforts to reduce health service backlogs
    - Recruiting, retaining, training and supporting health care workers, while also continuing to engage families and caregivers

    Read more


  • Ontario is reporting 625 new cases of COVID-19, including nine new cases in Niagara.

  • September 30 is the last day to apply for Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance. Apply now to support your tenants with rent relief.

    Learn more and apply for CECRA

Sept. 29

When visiting a pharmacy Ontarians should continue to follow COVID-19 public health measures, including:
- wearing a face covering,
- frequent handwashing, and
- maintaining physical distance from those outside their household or social circle.



Sept. 28


  • The City of St. Catharines has added building permit intakes to its appointment booking system.

    Learn more

  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit has ended and is transitioning to an Employment Insurance (EI) program for most applicants. Proposed replacement programs for those who don't qualify for EI are before parliament.

    Learn more

Sept. 25
  • The City of St. Catharines is rolling out tax relief to non-residential property owners to provide support from the COVID-19 pandemic.

    This new program is open to owners of occupied commercial, shopping centre, parking lot or office property who can demonstrate financial hardship related to COVID-19. If the application is approved, property tax payments can be deferred from July 31 and Oct. 30 to Nov. 30, 2020. 

    Applications must be accompanied by documents that demonstrate financial hardship from excessive business revenue loss or temporary business closure, or some other financial hardship related directly to the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Learn more

  • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, and other health experts, the Ontario government has amended order O. Reg 364/20 through new Ontario Government orders issued to help stop the spread of COVID-19 to tighten public health measures in response to the recent rise in cases of COVID-19.

    Over the past five weeks, Ontario has experienced an increase in the rate of new COVID-19 cases. To ensure the continued health and safety of Ontarians, reduce the risk of transmission, and limit future outbreaks of COVID-19, the amended order will apply province-wide effective 12:01 a.m. on Saturday, September 26 and will:

    - Apply additional measures and restrictions to restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments (including nightclubs) by prohibiting the sale of alcohol after 11 p.m., and prohibiting the consumption of alcohol on the premises after 12 a.m. until 9 a.m. (including employees), and requiring establishments to close by 12 a.m. and remain closed until 5 a.m. except for takeout or delivery;
    - Close all strip clubs across the province; and
    - Require businesses or organizations to comply with any advice, recommendations, and instructions issued by the Office of the Chief Medical Officer of Health on screening for COVID-19.

    Read More

Sept. 24

  • Niagara Health’s COVID-19 Assessment Centres are aligning with guidance from the Ontario Government to prioritize testing for those most at risk for having COVID-19.

    Niagara Health’s Assessment Centres are moving to an appointment-only model beginning Monday, September 28, which will allow our teams to provide more efficient service to patients.

    To book an appointment, call 905.378.4647 ext. 42819 (4-CV19). Staff at the Assessment Centre will return calls as soon as possible to schedule a date and time for testing.
  • The Ontario government is providing $1.07 billion to expand COVID-19 testing and case and contact management. The government is also immediately investing $30 million to prevent and manage outbreaks in priority sectors, including the province's long-term care homes, retirement homes and schools.
  • Ontario updated COVID-19 testing guidelines to prioritize those who are at the greatest risk, while shifting away from untargeted asymptomatic testing. Effective immediately, Ontarians should only seek testing at assessment centres if you are:
    - Showing COVID-19 symptoms;
    - Have been exposed to a confirmed case of the virus, as informed by your public health unit or exposure notification through the COVID Alert app;
    - A resident or work in a setting that has a COVID-19 outbreak, as identified and informed by your local public health unit; and
    - Eligible for testing as part of a targeted testing initiative directed by the Ministry of Health or the Ministry of Long-Term Care.

Sept. 23

  • In its throne speech today, the federal government outlined its plan to guide the country through the COVID-19 pandemic. Some of the highlights include:
    - a promise to create over one million jobs through direct investments in the social sector and infrastructure, immediate training to quickly skill up workers, and incentives for employers to hire and retain workers.
    - extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy through to next summer.
    -  job creation by significantly scaling up the Youth Employment and Skills Strategy, to provide more paid work experiences next year for young Canadians.
    - creation of the transitional Canada Recovery Benefit to support people who would not traditionally qualify for EI, 
    - creation of an Action Plan for Women in the Economy to help more women get back into the workforce.
    - significant, long-term, sustained investment to create a Canada-wide early learning and childcare system.
  • The throne speech also included help for businesses to adapt for the future and thrive including:
    - expansion of the Canada Emergency Business Account to help businesses with fixed costs;
    - improving the Business Credit Availability Program;
    - introducing further support for industries that have been the hardest hit, including travel and tourism, hospitality, and cultural industries like the performing arts.

    Read more here.
  • The Ontario government is providing people with convenient and timely access to free COVID-19 testing at pharmacies in the province. As of Friday, up to 60 pharmacies in Ontario will begin offering testing by appointment only, with further locations coming online in the coming weeks.
  • The Ontario government is launching a recruitment campaign to increase its team of frontline health and safety inspectors by 98 and help ensure workplaces across the province are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19. With these new hires, there will be more labour inspectors on the ground than ever before in the province's history.    

Sept. 22

  • The Ontario government is investing almost $70 million to purchase flu vaccines to deliver a robust and expanded flu vaccination campaign this year. The campaign is part of the province's comprehensive plan to prepare the health system for a second wave of COVID-19.

Sept. 21

  • Restrictions on non-essential travel across from Canada-U.S. border have been extended until Oct. 21.

Sept. 19

  • Today, The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table, reduced limits on the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored and private social gatherings across the entire province, including Niagara and St. Catharines, effective immediately.

    The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres, banquet halls, gyms, places of worship, recreational sporting or performing art events. Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures for these businesses and facilities, continue to be in effect.

    Unmonitored and private social gatherings include functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.

    The new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored private social gathering across the province is:
    - 10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50); or
    - 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100).

    Indoor and outdoor events and gatherings cannot be merged together. Gatherings of 35 (25 outdoors and 10 indoors) are not permitted.

    To support better compliance with public health guidelines, amendments to the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act would, if passed, establish:
    - A new offence regarding hosting or organizing a gathering in residential premises or other prescribed premises that exceeds limits under an order.
    - A minimum fine of $10,000 for organizers of these gatherings.
    - Authority for the Lieutenant Governor in Council to prescribe additional types of premises for the purpose of the new offence.
    - Authority for a police officer, special constable or First Nations constable to order the temporary closure of a premises where there are reasonable grounds to believe that any gathering exceeding the number of people allowed is taking place and require individuals to leave the premises.

    The Chief Medical Officer of Health and other public health experts continue to closely monitor the evolving situation to advise when public health measures or restrictions can be further loosened or if they need to be tightened.

  • Help stop the spread of COVID-19. It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice. This includes:
    - staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms;
    - practicing physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, or at gatherings;
    - protecting your social circle;
    - wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so;
    - washing your hands frequently and thoroughly; and
    - adhering to gathering limits and rules.

For additional protection, the Ontario government is encouraging everyone to download the new COVID Alert app on their smart phone from the Apple and Google Play app stores.

Sept. 18

  • St. Catharines and the Town of Lincoln’s economic development and tourism departments have begun the process of recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic through formalizing a sub-regional tourism marketing partnership. 



    Pictured from left, Paul Di Ianni, economic development officer for the Town of Lincoln; Lincoln Mayor Sandra Easton; St. Catharines Mayor Walter Sendzik; and Brian York, director of economic development and government relations for the City of St. Catharines.

    The global COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on the tourism, leisure and hospitality markets in both the City of St. Catharines and the Town of Lincoln. Many businesses and attractions have suffered significant economic loss, festivals and events have been cancelled and the movement of people and goods has significantly slowed.

    The partnership has been finalized through the establishment of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the City of St. Catharines and the Town of Lincoln to expand both municipalities’ capacity to market to a broader audience and combine a shared rural and urban tourism experience.

  • Following a decision by the University Senate, Brock University today announced it will continue with primarily online classes for the full academic year, extending the current academic model through the Winter Term that runs from January to April.

    As a result of this decision, the current timetable for the Winter Term will be reviewed.  A revised timetable should be available to students in November.

Sept. 17

  • In an effort to slow down and limit new COVID-19 cases in the regions with the highest rates of transmission the Ontario Government has reduced the number of people permitted to attend unmonitored social gatherings and organized public events in Ottawa, Toronto and Peel. This includes functions, parties, dinners, gatherings, BBQs or wedding receptions held in private residences, backyards, parks and other recreational areas.

    To help prevent the spread of COVID-19, the amended order sets a new limit on the number of people allowed to attend an unmonitored social gathering or organized public event:
    - 10 people at an indoor event or gathering (previous limit of 50); or
    - 25 people at an outdoor event or gathering (previous limit of 100).

    The new limits will not apply to events or gatherings held in staffed businesses and facilities, such as bars, restaurants, cinemas, convention centres or banquet halls, gyms, and recreational sporting or performing art events. Existing rules, including public health and workplace safety measures, for these businesses and facilities continue to be in effect. 
  • It remains critically important for everyone to continue following public health advice to limit the spread of COVID-19. This includes:
    - staying home when ill, or keeping your child home from school when ill, even with mild symptoms;
    - practising physical distancing with those outside your household or social circle, or at gatherings;
    - protecting your circle;
    - wearing a face covering when physical distancing is a challenge or where it is mandatory to do so;
    - washing your hands frequently and thoroughly;
    - and adhering to gathering limits and rules.

  • The Ontario government has introduced the Helping Tenants and Small Businesses Act that would, if passed, freeze rent in 2021 for most rent-controlled and non-rent-controlled residential units. The act would also support small businesses with proposed changes the Commercial Tenancies Act to extend the temporary ban on evictions for commercial tenants.

Sept. 16

Sept. 10

Sept. 9

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, today announced investments of up to nearly $221 million in partnership with Canadian financial institutions – including up to nearly $93 million from the Government of Canada over the next four years – to launch Canada’s first-ever Black Entrepreneurship Program. This program will help thousands of Black business owners and entrepreneurs across the country recover from this crisis and grow their businesses. The program will include:
    - Up to $53 million to develop and implement a new National Ecosystem Fund to support Black-led business organizations across the country. It will help Black business owners and entrepreneurs access funding and capital, mentorship, financial planning services, and business training.
    - Up to $33.3 million in support through the new Black Entrepreneurship Loan Fund that will provide loans of between $25,000 and $250,000 for Black business owners and entrepreneurs. The Government of Canada is also partnering with financial institutions, including RBC, BMO Financial Group, Scotiabank, CIBC, National Bank, TD, Vancity, and Alterna Savings, to make up to $128 million available in additional lending support.
    - Up to $6.5 million to create and sustain a new Black Entrepreneurship Knowledge Hub that will collect data on the state of Black entrepreneurship in Canada and help identify Black entrepreneurs’ barriers to success as well as opportunities for growth. The Hub will be run by Black-led community and business organizations, in partnership with educational institutions.

    More details, including eligibility criteria and how to apply, will follow in the coming weeks.

  • The Government of Canada will extend the Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses by one month to help eligible small businesses pay rent for September. All provinces and territories continue to participate in this initiative and collaborate with the federal government to provide rent supports to those small businesses most in need. Current CECRA application deadlines will also be extended to accommodate this extension.

    This will be the final extension of this program as the government explores options to support small businesses as they face the ongoing challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic — including the challenges of fixed costs at a time when health concerns and precautions prevent many businesses from operating at full capacity. The federal government will continue to ensure Canadian small businesses have the support they need.

Sept. 3

  • Applications for the Canada United Small Business Relief Fund are now open. Successful applicants will receive a relief grant of up to $5,000. Canada United intends to support local businesses of all kinds from across the country (from retailers to barbershops to farmers). 

Sept. 2

  • As the province safely and gradually reopens and more people return to work, the Ontario government is partnering with public transit operators across the province on measures, including public health measures such as mask requirements and enhanced cleaning on transit, to ensure transit workers and passengers can safely and confidently take public transit. The government has distributed comprehensive health and safety guidance documents and is providing significant funding to cover lost revenue, enhanced cleaning and other costs incurred because of COVID-19.

    Metrolinx has implemented more than 40 measures, following the Ministry of Transportation's comprehensive safety guidance for public transit systems and passengers, to help keep transit workers and passengers safe. These measures include installing seat dividers on GO trains and buses, making face coverings mandatory for staff and passengers, providing hand sanitizer dispensers on every GO bus and at every GO Transit and UP Express station, and installing health kiosks at dozens of stations to provide safety information. Metrolinx is also increasing GO train and bus services beginning September 5, 2020, as more people return to school and work.

Aug. 31, 2020

  • Natural gas and electricity utilities across Ontario, such as Alectra Utilities, are now making the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business available. The program is funded by the Government of Ontario and provides $8 million to support small business and registered charity customers who are struggling to pay their energy bills as a result of the COVID-19 emergency. The COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program for Small Business provides a one time, on-bill credit to eligible small business and registered charity customers to help them catch up on their energy bills and resume regular payments.

    Small business and registered charity customers may be eligible for up to $850 in support towards their electricity bill if they primarily use electricity for heating, or up to $425 otherwise. The maximum credit a CEAP-SB eligible natural gas customer may receive is $425. Customers may be eligible for both.

    Applications for the COVID-19 Energy Assistance Program (CEAP) for Small Business opens today (Aug. 31). Electricity customers can Visit Alectra Utilities for more information.
  • The application deadline for the Canada Emergency Business Account has been extended to October 31, 2020. Businesses can contact their primary financial institution to learn more or apply directly.

Aug. 28, 2020

  • Help is available for tourism and Hhospitality Workers out of work or working less due to COVID-19 through the Tourism and Hospitality Emergency Response. Visit TourismHospitalityWorkers.ca for information on training, employment supports, and relief programs. You can also register for the Tourism & Hospitality Workers’ Registry to receive information about job opportunities, safe return to work, and regional and virtual employment services.  This initiative is led by OTEC and funded by the Government of Canada’s Future Skills Centre and the Government of Ontario.
  • Following the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, effective immediately, residents can spend time away from their long-term care homes for day trips or overnight absences. For 'short-stay' absences — those that do not include an overnight stay — homes must provide residents with a medical mask to be worn at all times when outside of the home, if tolerated, and remind them of the importance of public health measures, including physical distancing. When they return, residents must be actively screened but are not required to be tested or to self-isolate.

Aug. 26, 2020

Support for Businesses

St. Catharines Rapid Response Team

Business Resources

Contacts


Support for Businesses

As businesses face unprecedented challenges from COVID 19, there are a number of actions the City, Region, Provincial and Federal Governments have taken to help ease the strain on businesses.

Municipal

City Tax Grace Period - the City Of St. Catharines has introduced a payment grace period to support residents and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The grace period will extend the second interim property tax and final property tax deadlines of June 30 and July 31 and October 30 to November 30, 2020.

City Building Inspections - The City of St. Catharines is still processing and reviewing building applications and permits. New permit applications are being accepted via mail/courier. Inspection of occupied dwellings, including building permit, building complaint, property standards and other by-law inspections are suspended until April 6, pending further review.

Provincial

Ontario's Action Plan: Responding to COVID-19 - The government's action plan is a first step in its response to COVID-19 and includes $7 billion in additional resources for the health care system and direct support for people and jobs.

Ontario Together - The Ontario Government launched Ontario Together, a new website that will help businesses and their employees work together with the province to meet the challenges of COVID-19. This initiative will remove barriers allowing Ontario's manufacturing sector to redeploy capacity towards the production of essential equipment like ventilators, masks and swabs. 

Federal

Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy offers help prevent further job losses, encourage employers to re-hire workers laid off due to COVID-19, help better position businesses and other employers to more easily resume normal operations following the crisis. Learn more here.

Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance

The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance (CECRA) for small businesses provides relief for small businesses experiencing financial hardship due to COVID‑19.

UPDATE: The Canada Emergency Commercial Rent Assistance for small businesses will be extended by one month to help eligible small businesses pay rent for September. Current CECRA application deadlines will also be extended to accommodate this extension.

CECRA provides forgivable loans to qualifying commercial property owners, whether they have a mortgage on their property or not. The loans cover 50 per cent of three to six monthly rent payments for eligible small business tenants during April, May, June, July, August and September. Learn more here.

Business Credit Availability Program

The Government of Canada outlined a coordinated package of measures being taken by financial sector partners to support the functioning of markets and continued access to financing for Canadian businesses. The government established the Business Credit Availability Program which will further support financing in the private sector through the Business Development Bank of Canada (BDC) and Export Development Canada (EDC), providing more than $10 billion of additional support to businesses.

  • Canada Emergency Business Account
    • For small businesses and not-for profits with a 2019 payroll between $50,000 and $1 million.
    • Up to $40,000.
    • 0 per cent interest until December 31, 2022.
    • If the loan is paid off by December 31, 2022, a quarter of the loan will be forgiven.
    • More details available here.
    • Contact your primary financial institution to apply.

  • Small and Medium Enterprise Loan and Guarantee program
    • For small and medium-sized businesses
      • EDC will guarantee new operating credit and cash flow term loans that financial institutions extend to SMEs
      • BDC will co-lend to SMEs for their operational cash flow requirements with financial institutions.
    • Up to $6.25 million
    • More details available here.
    • Contact your primary financial institution to apply.

Work Sharing Program

Effective March 15, 2020 to March 14, 2021, and not limited to one specific sector or industry, the Government of Canada introduced temporary special measures to its Work Sharing Program, including:

  • Extension of the maximum possible duration of an agreement from 38 weeks to 76 weeks.
  • Mandatory cooling off period has been waived for employers who have already used the Work-Sharing program so that eligible employers may immediately enter into a new agreement.
  • More details available here.

Changes to Employment Insurance Sickness BenefitsEmployment Insurance sickness benefits provide up to 15 weeks of income replacement and are available to eligible claimants who are unable to work because of illness, injury or quarantine, to allow them time to restore their health and return to work. Toll free line available: 1.833.381.2725

Temporary Business Wage Subsidy - Effective immediately, eligible employers (non-profit organizations, charities, and certain Canadian Controlled Private Corporations) that pay remuneration to an employee, such as salary, wages, or taxable benefits, on or after March 18th and before June 20th, are permitted to reduce remittances of federal, provincial, or territorial income tax by the amount of the subsidy. Learn more here.

Registered Retirement Income Funds Minimum Withdrawal Amounts - targeted help by reducing required minimum withdrawals from Registered Retirement Income Funds by 25 per cent for 2020, in recognition of volatile market conditions.

Farm Credit CanadaFarm Credit Canada has received an enhancement to its capital base that will allow for an additional $5 billion in lending capacity.

Buyandsell.gc.ca - Businesses that can supply products and services to support Canada’s efforts to prevent the spread of COVID-19 are urged to visit buyandsell.gc.ca.

GST Credit - The Government of Canada is proposing to provide a one-time special payment by early May 2020 through the Goods and Services Tax Credit. This will double the maximum annual GSTC payment amounts for the 2019-20 benefit year.

Canada Child Benefit - Provides additional assistance to families with children by temporarily boosting Canada Child Benefit payments. This measure would deliver almost $2 billion in extra support. 

Canada Student Loan Payments - To support student and apprentice loan borrowers during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada has announced its plan to pause the repayment of Canada Student Loans and Canada Apprentice Loans until September 30, 2020.

Other

Learn more about Digital Main Street's $2,500 digital transformation grants and building free eccommerce websites with ShopHERE powered by Google on our Support Programs for Businesses page

Facebook Small Business Grants ProgramFacebook is offering $100 million in cash grants for small businesses affected by COVID-19.

BarterPayBarterPay is offering small businesses solutions to their issues with cashflow through their online trading platform.

Google - Google committed $800+ million to support small- and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), health organizations and governments, and health workers on the frontline of this global pandemic.


St. Catharines Rapid Response Team

Our Economic Development Team is working with Federal and Provincial government to find out more about how and when businesses will be able to access funding and advocating for a quick turnaround to get money to individuals and businesses. Businesses can reach our team at edceconomic@stcatharines.ca.

We continue to support our business community with the following initiatives:

  • Monitoring the situation and keeping you informed of any and all changes to the industry;
  • Observing and adjusting the marketing message in response to the changing situation;
  • Sustaining an active presence on social and digital platforms to share information with consumers about your state of business;
  • Collaborating with industry partners to design a strategy and ensure alignment of efforts; and
  • Continuing to provide exceptional service to ensure ongoing customer experience

We are also part of the the Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team, an effort by Niagara’s Mayors and Regional Chair to support local businesses impacted by COVID-19. More details on this as well as supports for businesses can be found here.


Business Resources


Here are more resources to help your business cope with COVID-19:

How businesses can cope with COVID-19

With public health officials warning people to avoid large crowds to help reduce the spread of the coronavirus and COVID-19 businesses can expect to face some challenges as we work our way through this evolving situation.

Here is some advice from the St. Catharines Enterprise Centre that businesses can use to help adapt to this challenging situation.

  • Look after your employees
    They are your biggest asset so it makes sense to support them in any way that you can and help them to navigate applications for employment insurance claims if required.

  • Review your health and safety protocols
    Enhance already careful sanitizing and cleaning measures and increase frequency. Instruct staff to stay home if they have even minor symptoms (cough, fever, sore throat, or generally feeling unwell).

  • Communicate with your customers
    Step up your communications with your customers. Keep them informed of any operational changes that you make, remind them of your hours of operation, and offer to help them. Be a trusted and helpful resource for your customers.

  • Check your financials
    Have conversations with landlords, creditors, suppliers and others about what options are available.

  • Adapt
    What adjustments can you make to adapt your services to the needs of your customers? Can you offer online shopping? Is free delivery or in-store / curbside pickup an option? Can you meet online instead of in person? Small changes can make a big difference and help keep your business going.

    Gift cards are a great way for you to keep generating revenue now when volume is down and gives the customer something to use when regular business practises resume.

  • Watch your marketing
    While it's important to adapt marketing campaigns to this ever-evolving situation, avoid unreasonable and unsustainable offers to attract immediate sales and customers for a short-term gain. It is still important to focus on the future and stay the course.

    Participate in shop local and shop small campaigns such as #ShopSTC. Make an effort to support other small businesses. Can you make purchases from your neighbouring businesses? Can you offer sensible joint promotions?

  • Revisit your business plan
    Use downtime to make your business better. Take a look at the things you've been putting off, such as improving your CRM system, updating your website and developing a far-reaching online ad campaign. Planning now means you'll be ready to go when things stabilize.

Contacts

City of St. Catharines
Citizens First, Monday to Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
www.stcatharines.ca
citizensfirst@stcatharines.ca
905.688.5600 

Alectra
Business Inquiries
1.833.253.2872
alectrautilities.com/AskUs

Province of Ontario
Stop the Spread Business Information Line
1.888.444.3659

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