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COVID-19 Resources for Businesses

Posted in News & Updates

Ontario Declares Second Provincial Emergency to Address COVID-19 Crisis

The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is immediately declaring a second provincial emergency under s 7.0.1 (1) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMPCA).

Effective Thursday, January 14, 2021at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a stay-at-home order requiring everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes, such as:

  • going to the grocery store or pharmacy
  • accessing health care services
  • exercise
  • essential work.

This order and other new and existing public health restrictions are aimed at limiting people's mobility and reducing the number of daily contacts with those outside an immediate household.

The Ontario Government's COVID-19 Response Framework (colour-coded zones) is paused while the emergency measures and stay-at-home restrictions are in effect.

In addition to limiting outings to essential trips, all businesses must ensure that any employee who can work from home, does work from home.

Additional Public Health Restrictions

In response to the alarming and exceptional circumstances at hand, and to further interrupt the deadly trend of transmission in Ontario communities, hospitals, and long-term care homes, the government will enact the following additional public health measures:

  • Outdoor organized public gatherings and social gatherings are further restricted to a limit of five people with limited exceptions. This is consistent with the rules during the lockdown during the first wave of COVID-19 in spring 2020 and will allow individuals and families to enjoy time outdoors safely.
  • Individuals are required to wear a mask or face covering in the indoor areas of businesses or organizations that are open. Wearing a mask or face covering is now recommended outdoors when you can't physically distance more than two metres.
  • All non-essential retail stores, including hardware stores, alcohol retailers, and those offering curbside pickup or delivery, must open no earlier than 7 a.m. and close no later than 8 p.m. The restricted hours of operation do not apply to stores that primarily sell food, pharmacies, gas stations, convenience stores, and restaurants for takeout or delivery.
  • Non-essential construction is further restricted, including below-grade construction, exempting survey.

These measures will come into effect between Tuesday January 12, 2021 and Thursday, January 14, 2021, including the provincial declaration of emergency under the EMCPA, orders under that Act, and amendments to regulations under the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020. 

To help quickly identify and isolate cases of COVID-19 in workplaces and service providers permitted to remain open such as long-term care homes and schools, the province will provide up to 300,000 COVID-19 tests per week to support key sectors such as manufacturing, warehousing, supply chain and food processing, as well as additional tests for schools and long-term care homes. This volume of rapid tests would support antigen screening for up to 150,000 workers per week over the next 4-5 months in Ontario's most critical workplaces. The province is expecting to receive 12 million Panbio tests from the federal government over the next several months and continues to pursue opportunities to purchase additional rapid tests.

New Enforcement Measures

Under the declaration of a provincial emergency, the province will provide authority to all enforcement and provincial offences officers, including the Ontario Provincial Police, local police forces, bylaw officers, and provincial workplace inspectors to issue tickets to individuals who do not comply with the stay-at-home-order, or those not wearing a mask or face covering indoors as well as retail operators and companies who do not enforce.

Those who decide not to abide by orders will be subject to set fines and/or prosecution under both the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, (ROA) and EMCPA.  

In addition, all enforcement personnel will have the authority to temporarily close a premise and disperse individuals who are in contravention of an order and will be able to disperse people who are gathering, regardless whether a premise has been closed or remains open such as a park or house.

Schools and Child Care Centres

Based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health, schools in the following public health units (PHUs) will not return to in-person instruction until February 10, 2021:

  • Windsor-Essex
  • Peel Region
  • Toronto
  • York
  • Hamilton

By January 20, 2021, the Chief Medical Officer of Health will advise the Ministry of Education on which public health units (PHUs) will be permitted to resume in-person instruction, based on the most up-to-date data and modelling. Before- and after-school programs can be offered when in-person instruction resumes. Schools in northern PHUs will continue to remain open.

To continue to keep students, staff and communities safe, the following new health and safety measures will be put in place for in-person learning:

  • Masking for Grade 1-3 and requirements for mask wearing outdoors
  • Enhanced screening protocols
  • Expanded targeted testing

The government will also implement new health and safety measures in Ontario child care settings, such as enhanced screening to align with school requirements, voluntary participation in targeted testing and additional infection prevention and control measures to align with schools. These enhancements are in addition to the existing health and safety measures already being implemented in child care settings across the province.

Child care centres for non-school aged children will remain open, and emergency child care for school-aged children will end in approved PHU regions on January 22, 2021 as these elementary schools return to in-person learning. During this extended period of online learning, in areas where in-person elementary learning is suspended, emergency child care will continue for eligible families in regions subject to school closures, as identified by the Chief Medical Officer of Health.

Workplace Safety

The Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development is taking additional steps to protect workers with the launch of the "Stay Safe All Day" campaign, focusing workplace inspections in areas of high transmission, including break rooms, and providing new educational materials to employers to promote safe behaviour before, during and after work.

Evidence gathered from COVID-19 related workplace inspections to date shows the vast majority of employers and workers are following COVID-19 safety requirements when working. However, when in a break room, a vehicle or not on the clock, there is a tendency to forget about the importance of  wearing  masks, maintaining physical distance and hand hygiene. 

As part of the "Stay Safe All Day" campaign, inspectors will use a data-driven approach to focus on workplaces with reported COVID-19 outbreaks, manufacturing businesses, warehouses, distribution centres, food processing operations, construction projects and publicly accessible workplaces deemed essential, such as grocery stores. The Ministry is also using a new data-sharing program, in conjunction with the Ministry of Long-Term Care and the Retirement Regulatory Authority, to focus onsite inspections of long-term-care homes and retirement homes. 

In the unfortunate event that an employee becomes infected with COVID-19, they may be entitled to federally funded paid sick leave of up to $500 a week for two weeks. Workers can also access Canada's Recovery Caregiver Benefit of up to $500 per week for up to 26 weeks if they are unable to work because they must care for their child under 12 years old or a family member who needs supervised care.

Over the summer, the government enacted a new regulatory amendment that put non-unionized employees on Infectious Disease Emergency Leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to COVID-19, ensuring businesses aren't forced to terminate employees after their ESA temporary layoff periods have expired. As part of the Safe Restart Agreement, the federal government is funding a temporary income support program that allows workers to take up to 10 days of leave related to COVID-19, preventing the risk of further spread in the workplace and allowing workers to focus on their health.

Updated: Jan. 14, 2021

Updates

Support for Businesses

PPE Supplies

St. Catharines Rapid Response Team

Business Resources

Contacts

Updates

Jan. 14

  • Ontario's Small Business Grants portal is now open. Grants to help businesses recover costs for PPE and offer extra support for businesses required to close or significantly restrict services as a result of provincial public health measures.

    Apply Now

    Application Guide

  • The Ontario government is taking additional measures to protect workers in response to rising COVID-19 cases. Beginning this Saturday and Sunday, approximately 50 ministry inspectors, as well as local bylaw and police officers, will be visiting big-box stores in Toronto, Hamilton, Peel, York and Durham. The blitz will focus on ensuring workers and patrons are wearing masks, maintaining physical distance, and following every health and safety measure.

    Read More

  • The Ontario government has issued an emergency order to temporarily pause the enforcement of residential evictions and ensure people are not forced to leave their homes during the provincial declaration of emergency and while the stay-at-home-order is in force.

    Read More

  • Niagara Health has declared outbreaks of COVID-19 on two medical units – the Sixth Floor Unit at the Welland Site and Unit 2A at the St. Catharines Site.

    The outbreaks were called after three patients on St. Catharines Unit 2A and 11 patients on the Welland Sixth Floor Unit tested positive for COVID-19. All of the cases are healthcare associated. The safety of everyone at the hospital sites is Niagara Health's top priority, and it’s Infection Prevention
    and Control experts, working with it's Occupational Health and Safety team, is monitoring the situation closely.

    Niagara Health has taken immediate steps to ensure the safety of patients, staff and physicians. Enhanced safety measures put in place include:
    - Closure of the unit to new admissions or transfers, unless medically necessary
    - Enhanced cleaning and disinfection of the unit.
    - Contact tracing of affected patients, staff and visitors with appropriate follow up is ongoing.
    - Visitors are not permitted on the unit.

  • The facility-wide COVID outbreak at the Niagara Falls Site is now over after 14 days of no new additional cases. Unit-specific outbreaks are ongoing on Unit C, Unit D, Trillium and the Intensive Care Unit.

  • Effective today, the Ontario Government's stay-at-home orders are now in effect and require everyone to remain at home with exceptions for essential purposes.

    Learn More

Jan. 13

  • Today, Niagara Health (NH) and Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services (NRPH&ES) administered the first 322 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine in the region. Niagara Health vaccinated 108 long-term care home workers and 70 hospital staff and physicians. Meanwhile, NRPH&ES teams were deployed to two long-term care homes, one in St. Catharines and one in Fort Erie, vaccinating 144 residents and staff.

Jan. 12

  • Premier Doug Ford is immediately declaring a second provincial emergency and a stay-at-home order will come into effect Jan. 14.

    Read More

  • The Canada-U.S. Border will remain closed to non-essential travel until at least February 21.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced today the Government of Canada has secured an addition 20 million doses of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine.

  • The Ontario Government is expected to release COVID-19 modeling data today as well as additional restrictions to help stop the spread of COVID-19. The announcement relating to restrictions is scheduled for today (Jan. 12) at 1 p.m.

Jan. 11

  • Niagara is preparing for the arrival of the COVID-19 vaccine this week. Delivery of the Pfizer vaccine is expected Tuesday or Wednesday with doses being administered as soon as shipments arrive.

    Niagara Health (NH) and Niagara Region Public Health and Emergency Services (NRPH&ES) have been working together on the region’s vaccination plan, starting with priority populations identified by the Ontario government for Phase 1 of COVID-19 vaccinations.

    NH will begin vaccinating front-line healthcare workers in long-term care (LTC), high-risk retirement homes and the hospital at a vaccine clinic at the
    St. Catharines Site, followed by NH clinics opening in Niagara Falls, Welland, and/or other sites. At the same time, NRPH&ES will deploy small teams to long-term care homes and high-risk retirement homes to support their staff vaccinating the residents under their care.

  • Niagara Public Heath reported 471 new cases of COVID-19. However, the case count reflected an additional 388 cases due to clearance of a large backlog. Niagara Public Health stated that this was a one-time spike that ensures that the cumulative case count it reports will now reflects the accurate total of cases that have been detected in Niagara.

Jan. 8

  • Niagara Health has called an outbreak in the emergency department at the St. Catharines hospital after five staff members tested positive. All cases were associated with healthcare. The Emergency Department remains open and safe for members of the public seeking care and the following measures are in place:
    - Use of universal mask and eye protection by all staff and physicians.
    - Continued wearing of masks by Emergency Department patients and visitors.
    - Enhanced cleaning and disinfection is ongoing for all rooms and medical equipment.

    Read More

Jan. 7


Jan. 6

  • COVID-19 vaccinations will begin in Niagara next week with front line health-care workers and long-term care workers.

Jan. 5

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said today the Government of Canada will close a loophole that allows Canadians returning from unnecessary travel abroad, including vacations, who are required to quarantine to receive the Canada Recovery Sickness Benefit.

Jan. 4

  • Intense pressures on hospitals providing COVID care across the region have prompted activation of the Pandemic Response Unit (PRU) located at Joseph Brant Hospital in Burlington.

    The Pandemic Response Unit is part of a regional strategy developed by hospitals across Hamilton Niagara Haldimand Brant and Burlington (HNHBB) to meet the demand for COVID-19 care and help minimize potential disruptions to scheduled, regional, and community care, as much as possible. The regional strategy is being led by the HNHBB Hospital Incident Management Structure (IMS) team, which includes representation from all regional hospitals.

    Learn More

  • The Ontario government is supporting home-based food businesses by providing a guide on how to start a home-based food business, which includes an overview of public health requirements that need to be followed as a food operator. To further support these entrepreneurs, the government has also made regulatory changes to allow more flexibility to sell low-risk, home-prepared foods. These supports are part of the government's continued efforts to help small, independent businesses succeed and contribute to Ontario communities during COVID-19.

    Read More



Dec. 23

  • Health Canada has approved the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. The federal government has allocated approximately 53,000 doses of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine for Ontario in December 2020, and they will be delivered before the end of the month. These are the first of 40 million doses Canada will be receiving through its agreement with Moderna.

Dec. 22

  • The Ontario government is providing new financial supports for individuals, families and small businesses, as they do their part to stop the spread of COVID-19 and protect the province's health care system during the Provincewide Shutdown. The province is expanding the Support for Learners program to include secondary school students and lowering electricity prices to a discounted off-peak rate 24/7 for all time-of-use and tiered customers.

    - In January 2021, students aged 13 through Grade 12 will be eligible for funding under an expanded Support for Learners program. Parents or guardians will receive a one-time payment of $200 per eligible student to help offset education expenses. Support will be available for those who attend a public or private school or who are homeschooled.

    - To support people as they stay home during the Provincewide Shutdown, the government will hold electricity prices to the off-peak rate of 8.5 cents per kilowatt-hour for all time-of-use and tiered customers on a temporary basis starting January 1, 2021. This low rate will be available 24 hours per day, seven days a week for a 28-day period. The off-peak price will automatically be applied to bills of all residential, small business, and farm customers who pay regulated rates. 

    Read More

Dec. 21

  • Premier Doug Ford announces Ontario will enter a province-wide shutdown starting at 12:01 a.m. December 26. Southern Ontario will remain in the the shutdown for 28 days.

    The government also announced the new Ontario Small Business Support Grant, which will provide a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000 to eligible small business owners to help navigate this challenging period. Small businesses required to close or restrict services under the Provincewide Shutdown will be able to apply for this one-time grant. Each small business will be able to use the support in whatever way makes the most sense for their individual business.

    Read More

  • Niagara Health is implementing new restrictions for visitors at Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centres, effective Monday, Dec. 21 at noon. Niagara Health regularly reviews and updates its safety measures based on COVID-19 activity to ensure the hospital remains a safe environment. Emergency Departments and Urgent Care Centres are busy areas of the hospital and these additional measures are necessary to maintain proper physical distancing. These changes have been made in collaboration with our Patient Partners.

    Consistent with provincial guidelines, visitors/support people will only be able to accompany patients in the ED/UCC if they are supporting patients:
    - in life altering circumstances
    - experiencing a mental health crisis
    - at end of life
    - who are vulnerable. This includes those under 18 years of age, cognitive or developmentally delayed, and those with severe language impairment

    Patients and visitors/support people will be screened for COVID-19 per our existing guidelines. At triage, the nursing staff will assess whether the visitor/support person may accompany a patient in the ED/UCC based on the special circumstances outlined above. All visitors to Niagara Health must wear a mask properly at all times while in the hospital. Please also note that visitors may not bring outside food or drink to the hospital for their own consumption.

    Learn More

  • The Government of Canada has implemented additional health measures in response to the new variant of COVID-19 identified in the United Kingdom to give public health officials time to gather further evidence and conduct additional research to keep Canadians safe. These include:
    - a 72-hour suspension of all commercial and private passenger flights from the United Kingdom (effective midnight Dec. 20)
    - secondary screening of all travellers who arrived in Canada from the United Kingdom in the last day.

    These new measures complement the robust travel restrictions and border measures that have been in place since March 2020, notably mandatory quarantine measures that require travellers to quarantine or isolate for 14 days immediately upon entry to Canada.

Dec. 18


  • Ontario will be distributing additional doses of the Pfizer vaccine to 17 more hospital sites over the next two weeks, including regions with the highest rates of COVID-19 infection. Ontario is expecting to receive up to 90,000 Pfizer-BioNTech doses from the federal government before the end of the year to continue vaccinating health care workers and essential caregivers who work in hospitals, long-term care homes, retirement homes and other congregate settings caring for seniors.

    Read More

  • The Ontario government is doubling funding for the Black Youth Action Plan by investing an additional $60 million over three years. This funding will renew existing Black Youth Action Plan programming, create a new economic empowerment programming stream and provide targeted supports to help Black families and communities recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Read More

Dec. 17

  • The Ontario government is taking action to protect jobs by helping businesses avoid costly payouts and potential closures and continues offering protection to workers that are laid off due to COVID-19. These measures are being adopted through the extension of regulatory amendments that were put in place at the outset of the pandemic and through the introduction of a new regulation.

    - For employers with non-unionized employees, the government is extending regulatory changes brought forward under the Employment Standards Act to July 3, 2021.The regulation's changes include putting non-unionized employees on job-protected leave during the COVID-19 outbreak any time their hours of work are temporarily reduced by their employer due to the pandemic to prevent temporary layoffs from becoming permanent.
    - To support the hospitality industry and other hard-hit industries, the government is creating a special industry regulation allowing employers to negotiate alternative arrangements with unions for putting termination and severance pay into trust for laid-off employees. Employers with laid-off unionized workers need to put all potential termination and severance payments in a trust after 35 weeks while employees wait to be recalled to their jobs.

    Read More

  • The Ontario government is providing $77 million to help people who were laid off due to the impact of COVID-19 find in-demand jobs in their local communities. This funding is being provided through the redesigned Second Career grant program and will help more than 2,750 job seekers with up to $28,000 for tuition, training materials and living expenses.

    The updated initiative will help job seekers train for careers in sectors including:
    - advanced manufacturing
    - life sciences
    - information and communications and;
    - supportive health services

    Enhancements will focus on training initiatives with a duration of 52 weeks or less, helping more people get trained quicker and get back to work faster. These changes will also remove existing caps on the funding amount available to cover tuition at a wider range of institutions.

    Read More

Dec. 16

  • The Ontario government is encouraging people to "show your love for local" by exploring new and creative ways to reconnect with the unique small businesses and places that make the province's communities special. To promote this effort Destination Ontario, an agency of the Ministry of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, is launching a new "Support Local" campaign. The campaign is designed to instill a sense of pride of place and encourage people to safely be a tourist in their own communities.

    The new campaign will launch on TV, radio, digital and social media starting mid-December and run until mid-January 2021. Advertisements will focus on the close-knit relationship between local businesses and the communities they serve.

    Read More


Dec. 15


  • St. Catharines City Council approved the 2021 Capital and Operating budget with a 1.86 per cent over the last year. Home owners with the average home valued at $254,000, will see an increase of $29.98.

Dec. 14

  • Ontario delivers the first COVID-19 vaccine in the country. The first vaccine was administered to a personal support worker at a long-term care home in Toronto.
    Premier Doug Ford said today was the beginning of the end of this terrible pandemic and asked all Ontarians to continue to follow the public health measures to keep everyone safe and healthy, especially during the holiday season
    - Avoid social gatherings
    - Wear a mask when required
    - Practise physical distancing,
    - Wash your hands frequently
    - Download the COVID Alert app.

  • Niagara Health has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 on the Brock inpatient surgical unit at the Greater Niagara General Site in Niagara Falls. The outbreak was called after one patient and one staff member tested positive for COVID-19. Both cases are healthcare-associated. Niagara Health's Infection Prevention and Control team, working with Niagara Region Public Health and the Occupational Health and Safety team, is monitoring the situation closely.

  • The Ontario government updated the province's COVID-19 testing guidelines for outbound international travellers. Effective December 11, 2020, individuals requesting a COVID-19 test for international travel clearance are no longer eligible for a publicly-funded COVID-19 test in Ontario.

    Testing is still available at no cost to anyone who needs a COVID-19 test per provincial testing guidelines, including people who are symptomatic, or people who have been in contact with someone who has symptoms.

    Read More

  • Niagara Health has declared an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Extended Care Unit at the Welland Site. The outbreak was called after one staff member tested positive for COVID-19 following routine surveillance. This is a community-acquired case. The staff member is isolating at home and contact tracing has taken place.

Dec. 11


  • Niagara Health is closely monitoring the Unit C outbreak at our Greater Niagara General Site and working to our fullest capacity to prevent further spread of this virus to maintain a safe environment for all. Contact tracing is underway. A total of 15 patients and one healthcare worker have tested positive for COVID-19 as part of this outbreak. Two of the patients acquired COVID in the community, while the others were healthcare-associated cases of COVID. The staff member is self-isolating at home. 

Dec. 10

  • Ontario is ready to receive COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are available. Beginning Tuesday, December 15, these first doses will be administered at University Health Network and The Ottawa Hospital to health care workers who are providing care in long-term care homes and other high-risk settings.

    Read More


  • The Ontario Government is supporting local restaurants, bars, breweries, wineries and distilleries during the COVID-19 pandemic by expanding opportunities in alcohol sales, including making the sale of alcohol with food takeout and delivery orders permanent. Ontario previously approved some of these changes on a temporary basis to support businesses significantly impacted by the spread of COVID-19. The province is now permanently allowing licensed restaurants and bars to include alcohol with food as part of a takeout or delivery order.

    Additional permanent reforms for the hospitality sector will allow:
    - alcohol service on docked boats by operators with a liquor sales licence
    - reduced minimum pricing of spirits consumed on-site, to align with the reduced pricing introduced for takeout and delivery orders
    - the length of time for temporary patio extensions to be set out by the Alcohol and Gaming Commission of Ontario (AGCO)
    - for a requirement that ensures third parties delivering from licensed restaurants and bars have a delivery licence.

    The requirements that apply to alcohol sales, service and delivery will continue to apply to boats with a liquor sales licence and liquor delivery services, including checking ID, Smart Serve training and not serving or selling to intoxicated people. The province is also supporting businesses by:
    - removing restrictive rules to allow for the delivery of alcoholic beverages in food boxes and meal kits
    - allowing eligible alcohol manufacturers to deliver their own products and charge a delivery fee
    -allowing restaurants and bars to offer mixed cocktails and growlers as part of a takeout or delivery order
    - permitting eligible manufacturers to sell spirits and 100 per cent Ontario wine at farmers markets

    Read More

Dec. 9

  • Health Canada has approved Pfizer-BioNTech's COVID-19 vaccine.

Dec. 7

  • The Ontario government is ready to distribute COVID-19 vaccines as soon as they are received, beginning with vaccinating vulnerable populations and those who care for them. As recommended by the COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force and in alignment with the National Advisory Committee on Immunization, the province has identified key populations to receive the vaccine first.

    Groups receiving the early vaccine doses in the first few months of the Ontario immunization program will include:
    - Residents, staff, essential caregivers, and other employees of congregate living settings (e.g., long-term care homes and retirement homes) that provide care for seniors as they are at higher risk of infection and serious illness from COVID-19
    - Health care workers, including hospital employees, other staff who work or study in hospitals, and other health care personnel
    - Adults in Indigenous communities, including remote communities where risk of transmission is high
    - Adult recipients of chronic home health care.

    Read More

Dec. 4

  • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, local medical officers of health, and other health experts, is moving three public health regions to new levels with stronger public health measures as set out in the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.

    Niagara Region and St. Catharines remains in the Level Orange Restrict.

    Read More

  • The Ontario government is providing the Niagara Parks Commission with up to $12.81 million to help ensure the Niagara region remains one of the top tourism destinations in the world during the COVID-19 outbreak. Niagara typically attracts 13 million visits every year. In 2017, total tourism expenditures in Niagara reached $2.4 billion. In 2018, there were 40,000 total jobs in the tourism sector.

    Read More

  • Today, the Ontario government announced the appointment of nine members of the new Ministers' COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. The task force, chaired by General (retired) Rick Hillier, former Chief of Defence Staff for the Canadian Forces, will oversee the delivery, storage and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines. 

    The task force will work in partnership with several ministries to provide the government with diverse expertise in operations and logistics, federal-provincial and Indigenous relations, health and clinical domains, behavioural science, public health and immunization, ethics, and information technology and data. Beginning immediately, the task force will focus on several key areas, specifically delivery, logistics and administration, clinical guidance as well as public education and outreach.

    Read More

Dec. 3


Dec. 1

  • The Recovery Activation Program (RAP) invites businesses to participate in its next Webcast: Alumni Panel on December 9.
    RAP will be hosting a discussion titled "Building a First-Class Digital Roadmap with RAP Graduates" at 11 a.m. This should be a great opportunity to share some of the tangible benefits of the RAP program from one SME to another.

    Sign Up Here
  • The Recovery Activation Program is a free initiative designed to help businesses improve their digital capacity, and build their network through curated programs that will help them take the next step toward their digital restructuring.

    Learn More

Nov. 25

  • To support Ontarians as they begin to safely plan for the season, the Ontario government, based on the advice of the Chief Medical Officer of Health and input from the Public Health Measures Table, is providing preliminary guidance on how to safely celebrate this year and protect your loved ones. While he knows many people are looking forward to their traditional family celebrations, Premier Doug Ford said in order to keep loved ones safe the province is asking everyone to stick to their own household when celebrating and avoid big holiday parties or large family dinners to help stop the spread of this deadly virus.

    No matter where you live in the province, The Ontario Government advises the safest way to spend the holidays this year is by only celebrating in person with the people you live with and celebrating virtually with everyone else. If you live alone, consider exclusively celebrating with one additional household as a safe way to spend the holidays.

    Read More

  • It is important for everyone to adhere to the public health measures in their communities, especially when connecting with others. All Ontarians are strongly recommended to continue doing the following:
    - Stay home if you have COVID-19 symptoms, even if they are mild;
    - Avoid social gatherings and limit close contacts to your household or the people you live with;
    - Maintain two metres of physical distancing from everyone else;
    - Adhere to the restrictions in your region on public and private gatherings;
    - Wear a face covering indoors and wear one outdoors if physical distancing cannot be maintained or if wearing one is required;
    - Wash your hands thoroughly and regularly;
    - Cover your cough;
    - Get tested if you have symptoms compatible with COVID-19, or if you've been advised of exposure by your local public health unit or through the COVID Alert mobile app;
    - Individuals and families from higher transmission regions should avoid travel to lower transmission regions (e.g., from Red level to Orange level), except for essential reasons; and
    - Download the COVID Alert mobile app.

Nov. 24

  • Venture Niagara has announced businesses in the Niagara Region may be eligible to benefit from additional relief funding through Regional Relief and Recovery Fund (RRRF) thanks to an investment by the Government of Canada.

    Last month, the Honourable Mélanie Joly announced a top-up to the RRRF through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario). To provide targeted support to small business in Niagara, Venture Niagara will deliver $1.01 million of this additional funding. This funding is in addition to the $2.08M Venture Niagara received in May 2020.

    Since the Fund was launched in May, southern Ontario Community Futures Development Corporations have assisted over 1,000 businesses to cover costs and play a role in our economic recovery, while protecting more than 3,500 jobs in the region.

    In that time, Venture Niagara has provided liquidity support to help 68 local businesses impacted by the pandemic to cover fixed operating costs and maintain 146 jobs.

    Learn More

    Funding is limited. Apply now.

    Apply Now


Nov. 20


  • To further support public health regions, the province is making additional enforcement mechanisms available to local medical officers of health who have applied additional measures based on their local conditions and needs.

    The government is amending Ontario Regulation 950 under the Provincial Offences Act, allowing for a ticket to be issued for any contravention of a COVID-19 specific communicable disease class order issued by a medical officer of health. The government will also ask the Chief Justice of the Ontario Court of Justice to establish a set fine to be attached to any ticket issued for violating a section 22 order relating to COVID-19 made by a local medical officer of health.

  • Ontario has not put in travel restrictions but is asking people not to travel to areas in lower levels.

  • Prime Minister Trudeau announced restrictions on non-essential travel at the Canada-United States border have been extended until at least December 21.

  • Prime Minister Justin Trudeau stated in his COVID-19 update to Canadians today that business can start applying for the new rent subsidy next week and that the program will be retroactive to October. He said the new program will support employers, not property owners.


Nov. 19



Nov. 18

  • Ontario Education Minister Stephen Lecce stated after consulting with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table that an extended winter holiday from school is not necessary at this time. 

  • Restrictions on non-essential travel at the Canada-United States border are expected to be extended for at least another month.

Nov. 17

  • Applications are now open for the Main Street Relief Grant for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). Ontario is helping  small businesses cover unexpected costs for personal protective equipment with grants up to $1,000.

    Eligibility
    To be eligible, your business must have two to nine employees and be in one of the following sectors:
    -retail
    - accommodation and food services
    - repair and maintenance
    - personal and laundry services

    What you’ll need to apply
    You will need to submit receipts or proof of costs for PPE purchased since March 17, 2020. This includes:
    - gloves, gowns, face shields, eye protection, masks, sanitizer, sanitizing wipes
    - thermometers, temperature monitors or cameras
    - physical changes, including the installation of hand sanitizer stations and plexiglass dividers
    - signs to guide or inform customers and employees

    Apply Now

  • Ontario is now accepting applications from municipalities for local infrastructure projects under the new Local Government sub-stream of the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream to allow local governments to proceed with tendering and procurement as soon as possible. Ontario announced in October up to $1.05 billion in federal-provincial funding through the COVID-19 Resilience Infrastructure stream under the Investing in Canada Infrastructure Program (ICIP) to build or renovate health and safety-related projects in long-term care, education and municipalities that will help Ontario respond to the impacts of COVID-19. This includes up to $250 million for the Local Government sub-stream that will help municipalities to address critical local infrastructure needs, which they can start applying for today.

    Read More

Nov. 16

  • The Ontario government launched a website for businesses to get help with COVID-19 costs, including main street relief grants (one-time grants of up to $1,000) fixed cost relief for businesses that were placed in a modified stage 2, or going ahead, are in Control or Lockdown, can apply. Not applicable at this time for Niagara.

    Learn More


Nov. 13

  • In consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and the Public Health Measures Table, the Ontario government is moving the Niagara Region, including St. Catharines, to Level Orange-Restrict at 12:01 a.m. Monday, Nov. 16 as part of the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.

    Read More

Nov. 12

Niagara Region Public Health has issued an order under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act for food and drink premises in Niagara, including restaurants, bars, banquet halls, wineries and breweries.

Effective 12:01 a.m., November 14, 2020, all owners / operators of food premises, including bars, restaurants, banquet halls, wineries, or breweries, including ones where only beverages are served, within Niagara must:
  • Record the following information from every patron who is 16 years of age or older that enters an indoor or outdoor dining area in the establishment, other than patrons who briefly enter the area to place, pick up, or pay for a takeout order:
    - Name
    - One form of contact information (phone number, electronic mail address, physical address)
    - Time of arrival
    - Time of departure
    - Table number or location
    - Attestation that the patron does not suffer any of the symptoms (excluding from a chronic non-contagious existing diagnosis)
    - Attestation that the patron is joining a table with only household members, and / or a maximum of two persons who are essential to maintaining physical and mental health, such as caregivers or social supports to someone who lives alone
  • Don't serve patrons for indoor or outdoor dining on the premises if they don't provide information for the above records
  • Retain the above records for a period of at least one month, and ensure the records are maintained and stored in a secure manner to preserve privacy of patrons. Appropriately and securely destroy those records after the one month retention has elapsed.
  • Disclose the records to a medical officer of health or an inspector under the Health Protection and Promotion Act on request, or as otherwise required by law
  • Conduct daily interactive screening of all employees for symptoms of COVID-19, using the Ministry of Health’s COVID-19 Screening Tool for Workplaces, or another tool with the same minimum set of questions, such as the COVID-19 Screening Tool developed by Niagara Region Public Health. Answers to daily screens should be collected and retained for at least one month.
  • Ensure the workplace is arranged, such as spacing of stations and visual cues, to maximize the likelihood that employees will keep two metres distance from each other and from patrons at all times, whenever possible. For emphasis, employees on breaks should be facilitated to keep two metres distance from each other.
  • Ensure that no more than six people are seated at each table in an indoor or outdoor area
  • Ensure that patrons are seated at all times except:
    - While entering the area and while moving to their table
    - While entering the area and while moving to their table
    - While placing or picking up an order
    - While paying for an order
    - While exiting the area
    - While going to or returning from a washroom
    - While lining up to do anything described in sub-paragraphs a to e
    - Where necessary for the purposes of health and safety
  • Ensure that patrons seated at different tables are separated by a distance of at least two metres, or plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier
  • Provide sufficient alcohol-based hand rub (minimum alcohol concentration of 70%) at every table, and at the entrance and exit of the establishment, with prompting to use it upon entry and exit.
  • To encourage honest and forthright reporting of COVID-19 symptoms and / or contact amongst employees, ensure that all employees are aware of any benefits and / or pay to which they may be entitled in the event that they must isolate due to having symptoms of COVID-19, being tested for COVID-19, or being a contact of COVID-19

Failure to comply with this order is an offence for which you may be liable, on conviction, to a fine of not more than $5,000 for every day or part of each day on which the offence occurs or continues.

If you're a business owner or operator and have questions about the Section 22 Class Orders:
- Email inspect@niagararegion.ca
- Contact the COVID-19 Info-Line at 905-688-8248 press 7, then press 3 or toll-free at 1-888-505-6074

Read More


Niagara remains in Level Yellow - Protect

As of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, the Niagara Region, including St. Catharines, will be moved into the following level: Yellow-Protect.

While this doesn’t mean your business will be ordered closed, the new measures may impact operations.

What this means for you
Restaurant, Bars and Food and Drink Establishments
As a result of moving into the Yellow-Protect level, the following measures will come into effect Nov. 7 (your business may already have these measures in place):
- Limit operating hours, establishments must close at midnight
- Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- No consumption of liquor permitted between 12 a.m. to 9 a.m.
- Require contact information for all seated patrons
- Limit of 6 people may be seated together
- Limit volume of music (e.g., to be no louder than the volume of a normal conversation)
- Safety plan available upon request
- Require patrons to be seated; 2m minimum between tables
- Dancing, singing and performing music is permitted, with restrictions
- Karaoke permitted, with restrictions (including no private rooms)
- Require patron contact info (one per group)
- No buffet style service
- Night clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
- Line-ups / patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2m distance and face covering required
- Face coverings except when eating or drinking only
- Eye protection where patrons without face coverings are within two metres of workers
Event and Meeting Spaces
As a result of moving into the Yellow-Protect level, the following measures will come into effect Nov. 7 (your business may already have these measures in place):
- Limit operating hours, establishments must close at midnight
- Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
- No consumption of liquor permitted between 12 a.m. to 9 a.m.
- Require contact information for all seated patrons
- Limit of 6 people may be seated together
- Limit volume of music (e.g., to be no louder than the volume of a normal conversation)
- Safety plan available upon request
- Limits:
     - 50 people indoors
     - 100 people outdoors
     *exception for court/government services, weddings, funerals
- Booking multiple rooms for the same event not permitted
- As of August 21, 2020, OCMOH plan:
     - 50 persons per room, where physical distancing can be maintained, subject to conditions in the plan
General Public Health Protective Measures
As a result of moving into the Yellow-Protect level, the following measures will come into effect Nov. 7 (your business may already have these measures in place):
- Gathering limit for certain organized public events and social gatherings (e.g. barbeques):
- 10 people indoors
- 25 people outdoors
- Gathering limit for organized public events and gatherings:
- 50 people indoors
- 100 people outdoors
- Gathering limit for religious services, weddings and funerals:
     - 30% capacity indoors
     - 100 people outdoors
- Requirement for workplace screening
- Requirement for face coverings at indoor workplaces
- Requirement for face coverings in indoor public spaces, with limited exemptions
- Worker protections such as eye protection where patrons without face coverings are within two metres of workers
- Development and implementation of a communication/public education plan (highlighting risk)

Yellow-Protect Measures for other business types


Nov. 9

  • The Niagara Region Public Health department has launched an online survey to gather data on what COVID-19 has done to the region and provide a snapshot of the health and well-being of residents, approximately 8 months after COVID-19 was declared a public health emergency in Ontario (March 17, 2020).

    Results of this survey will inform ways to improve Niagara Region Public Health's programs and services in response to the changing needs of Niagara residents during this time. This survey is the first of two surveys (1 out of 2 surveys).  Another survey will be sent in a future phase to look at changes in the health and well-being of Niagara residents. The current survey will ask questions about:
    - Physical activity, eating and behaviours
    - Mental health and well-being
    - Community safety
    - Healthcare services use
    - Access to public health information

    Take the Survey

  • Ontario is reporting 1,242 new cases of COVID-19 today, including 18 in Niagara.

Nov. 6

  • As of 12:01 a.m. Saturday, Nov. 7, the Niagara Region, including St. Catharines, will be moved into the following level: Yellow-Protect.

    While this doesn’t mean your business will be ordered closed, the new measures may impact operations.

    What this means for you
    • Restaurant, Bars and Food and Drink Establishments
      As a result of moving into the Yellow-Protect level, the following measures will come into effect Nov. 7 (your business may already have these measures in place):
      - Limit operating hours, establishments must close at midnight
      - Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
      - No consumption of liquor permitted between 12 a.m. to 9 a.m.
      - Require contact information for all seated patrons
      - Limit of 6 people may be seated together
      - Limit volume of music (e.g., to be no louder than the volume of a normal conversation)
      - Safety plan available upon request
      - Require patrons to be seated; 2m minimum between tables
      - Dancing, singing and performing music is permitted, with restrictions
      - Karaoke permitted, with restrictions (including no private rooms)
      - Require patron contact info (one per group)
      - No buffet style service
      - Night clubs only permitted to operate as restaurant or bar
      - Line-ups / patrons congregating outside venues managed by venue; 2m distance and face covering required
      - Face coverings except when eating or drinking only
      - Eye protection where patrons without face coverings are within two metres of workers
    • Event and Meeting Spaces
      As a result of moving into the Yellow-Protect level, the following measures will come into effect Nov. 7 (your business may already have these measures in place):
      - Limit operating hours, establishments must close at midnight
      - Liquor sold or served only between 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
      - No consumption of liquor permitted between 12 a.m. to 9 a.m.
      - Require contact information for all seated patrons
      - Limit of 6 people may be seated together
      - Limit volume of music (e.g., to be no louder than the volume of a normal conversation)
      - Safety plan available upon request
      - Limits:
           - 50 people indoors
           - 100 people outdoors
           *exception for court/government services, weddings, funerals
      - Booking multiple rooms for the same event not permitted
      - As of August 21, 2020, OCMOH plan:
           - 50 persons per room, where physical distancing can be maintained, subject to conditions in the plan
    • General Public Health Protective Measures
      As a result of moving into the Yellow-Protect level, the following measures will come into effect Nov. 7 (your business may already have these measures in place):
      - Gathering limit for certain organized public events and social gatherings (e.g. barbeques):
      - 10 people indoors
      - 25 people outdoors
      - Gathering limit for organized public events and gatherings:
      - 50 people indoors
      - 100 people outdoors
      - Gathering limit for religious services, weddings and funerals:
           - 30% capacity indoors
           - 100 people outdoors
      - Requirement for workplace screening
      - Requirement for face coverings at indoor workplaces
      - Requirement for face coverings in indoor public spaces, with limited exemptions
      Worker protections such as eye protection where patrons without face coverings are within two metres of workers
      - Development and implementation of a communication/public education plan (highlighting risk)

      Yellow-Protect Measures for other business types

  • The Ontario Government is moving Public Health Unit Regions into a new framework to keep Ontario safe and open with targeted measures to help limit the spread of COVID-19.

    The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. The framework categorizes public health unit regions into five levels with protective measures appropriate for each level in place:
    - Green-Prevent,
    - Yellow-Protect,
    - Orange-Restrict,
    - Red-Control,
    - and Lockdown being a measure of last and urgent resort.

    Read More

Nov. 5

  • Today, the Ontario Government released the 2020 budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protect, Support, Recover — the next phase of a comprehensive action plan to respond to the serious health and economic impacts of COVID-19.

    Ontario's Action Plan now sets out a total of $45 billion in support over three years to make available the necessary health resources to continue protecting people, deliver critical programs and tax measures to support individuals, families and job creators impacted by the virus, and lay the groundwork for a robust long-term economic recovery for the province.

    Some of the highlights include:
    • Investing an additional $60 million over three years starting in 2020-21 in the Black Youth Action Plan, doubling its base funding to extend the current program and create a new economic empowerment stream that will support Black youth in achieving social and economic success.
    • Investing $100 million over two years for the Community Building Fund to support community tourism, cultural and sport organizations which are experiencing significant financial pressures due to the pandemic.
    • Providing an additional $1.8 billion in the Support for People and Jobs Fund over the next two years, 2021-22 and 2022-23, to remain responsive to emerging needs and continue providing supports for the people of Ontario.
    • Responding to requests from local governments by proposing to provide municipalities with the ability to cut property tax for small businesses and a provincial commitment to consider matching these reductions. This would provide small businesses as much as $385 million in total municipal and provincial property tax relief by 2022-23, depending on municipal adoption.
    • Cancelling wine tax increases and freezing beer tax rates

      Read More

  • Ontario is reporting 998 new cases of COVID-19 today, including 15 in Niagara.

Nov. 4

  • Ontario is reporting 987 new cases of COVID-19 today, including 21 in Niagara.

  • Free webinar Nov. 5 to help you engage potential customers in virtual settings.

    Are you a Manufacturer or business owner looking to improve your ability to engage potential clients in a virtual setting or digital meeting? You're invited to a free online webinar that will help you better understand the new climate of virtual meetings and skills to deliver an engaging, impactful virtual presence.

    Register

  • Join us live on Instagram (@investinstc) Nov. 5 from noon to 1 p.m. for the Meet Your Main Street launch event for our Digital Service Squad.

    Hear from guest speakers, enjoy chances to win prizes with the chance to win prizes from local small businesses and celebrate the launch of the Digital Service Squad’s return to St. Catharines. Tune in to hear from your local city councillors as well as how recent Digital Transformation grant recipients are using the $2,500 to transform their business digitally. 

    Learn More
    Speaker Lineup

Nov. 3

  • The Ontario government has developed the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework to help ensure that public health measures are targeted, incremental and responsive to help limit the spread of COVID-19, while keeping schools and businesses open, maintaining health system capacity and protecting vulnerable people, including those in long-term care.

    The framework takes a gradual approach that includes introducing preventative measures earlier to help avoid broader closures and allow for additional public health and workplace safety measures to be introduced or removed incrementally. It categorizes public health unit regions into five levels:
    - Green-Prevent
    - Yellow-Protect
    - Orange-Restrict
    - Red-Control
    - Lockdown, a measure of last and urgent resort.

    Each level outlines the types of public health and workplace safety measures for businesses and organizations. These include targeted measures for specific sectors, institutions and other settings.

    Currently, Niagara is listed in Green-Prevent. The new classification framework will come into effect on November 6.

    Read More


  • Ontario is reporting 1,050 new cases of COVID-19 today, including 38 in Niagara.

  • Beginning today, (November 3), testing for COVID-19 at Niagara Health's St. Catharines site has moved indoors and drive-through tests are no longer available. Anyone requiring a COVID-19 test will access the centre through a dedicated entrance located behind the Walker Family Cancer Centre in the Outpatient Mental Health area at the St. Catharines site. Patients will be asked to wait in their car upon arrival until they receive a call from Assessment Centre staff. Patients who do not have a cellphone or arrive without a vehicle will be asked to come to the door and wait outside until a staff member greets them.

    Patients will receive instructions on how to access the centre upon confirmation of their appointment. Testing at Niagara Health's Assessment Centres is available by appointment only. Testing is prioritized for those most at risk for the virus.

Nov. 2

  • Today, Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, the Honourable Chrystia Freeland, introduced Bill C-9, An Act to Amend the Income Tax Act (Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy and Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy), which would implement new, targeted support to help hard-hit businesses. These measures are designed to help businesses get through the second wave of the virus so they can protect jobs, continue to serve their communities, and be positioned for a strong recovery. As previously announced, the business supports include:
    - The new Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy, which would provide direct and easy-to-access rent and mortgage interest support to tenants and property owners until June 2021 for qualifying organizations affected by COVID-19. The new rent subsidy would support businesses, charities, and non-profits that have suffered a revenue drop by providing support up to a maximum of 65 per cent of eligible expenses until December 19, 2020. The government is proposing to allow claims retroactively for the period that began September 27 and ended October 24, 2020.
    - The new Lockdown Support, which would provide an additional 25 per cent through the Canada Emergency Rent Subsidy for qualifying organizations that are subject to a lockdown and must shut their doors or significantly limit their activities under a public health order issued under the laws of Canada, a province or territory (including orders made by a municipality or regional health authority under one of those laws). Combined, this would mean that hard-hit businesses subject to a lockdown could receive rent support of up to 90 per cent.
    - The extension of the Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy until June 2021, which would continue to protect jobs by helping employers keep employees on the payroll and re-hire their workers. The wage subsidy would remain at the current rate of up to 65 per cent of eligible wages until December 19, 2020.

    Read More

  • Today, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones tabled a report in the Legislature providing details of the emergency measures put in place by the province to stop the spread of COVID-19 and keep Ontarians safe. The report focuses on the 47 emergency orders made between March 17 and July 24, 2020 when the Declaration of a Provincial Emergency was in effect under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA).

    Read More

  • Ontario is reporting 948 new cases of COVID-19.

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


Support for Businesses

St. Catharines Rapid Response Team

Business Resources

Contacts


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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