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COVID-19 Resources for Businesses

Posted in News & Updates

Orders under Section 22 of the Health Protection and Promotion Act

Niagara Region Public Health is putting additional health measures in place in order to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community.

Dr. M. Mustafa Hirji, Medical Officer of Health (Acting) for Niagara Region has issued orders under Section 22 for:

Orders issued on Feb. 18 will take effect for shopping malls, retail businesses, and food and drink premises in Niagara on Feb. 22.

Indoor and outdoor sit down dining isn't currently permitted in Niagara while the provincewide emergency brake is in effect.

Orders under Section 22

  • Shopping and retail
    All owners / operators of shopping malls and businesses that engage in retail sales to the public, including stores within a shopping mall in Niagara must:
    - Actively monitor compliance with the required capacity limits set in the Reopening Ontario (A Flexible Response to COVID-19) Act, 2020, S.O. 2020, c.17 and applicable regulations for the shopping mall, business, place, facility, or premise under your control, and ensure that physical distancing of two metres is maintained by patrons, store staff and mall staff in all common areas, stores, washrooms, hallways, entrances, etc., at all times.

    - Actively manage all line-ups or groups of patrons congregating and ensure all patrons waiting in line-ups inside or outside the shopping mall or retail store under your control maintain physical distancing of at least two metres.

    - Actively monitor compliance and ensure that all patrons, store staff and mall staff, whether inside the mall or retail store under your control, or in the vicinity of a line-up outside the mall or retail store under your control, wear a mask or face covering in a manner that covers their mouth, nose and chin unless entitled to an exception from this requirement in the Reopening Ontario Act.

    - 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 must be collected and retained for at least one month.

    - Ensure the workplace is arranged to help employees keep two metres distance from each other and from patrons at all times. For example, spacing of stations and visual cues. For emphasis, employees on breaks should keep two metres distance from each other.

    - Provide sufficient alcohol-based hand rub (minimum alcohol concentration of 70 per cent) at every 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 to if they must isolate due to symptoms of COVID-19, being tested for COVID-19, or being a contact of COVID-19.

    - Comply with all other requirements that apply to your business, place, facility or establishment as set out under the Reopening Ontario Act and the applicable regulations.

    - Follow all further instructions from Niagara Region Public Health pertaining to COVID-19 that apply to your premise

    - Ensure all stores within the shopping mall set a maximum capacity limit that's consistent with required capacity limits set in the Reopening Ontario Act, and its regulations. Monitor the capacity limit to ensure physical distancing of at least two metres is maintained by patrons, store staff and mall staff at all times.

    For greater certainty, nothing in this order is intended to require persons who are members of the same household to maintain a physical distance of at least two metres from each other while in a place of business or facility

  • Food and drink premises
    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, email address, physical address)
          - Time of arrival and departure
          - Table number or location
          - Attestation that the patron doesn't suffer from any COVID-19 symptoms, excluding those 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. For example, 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, and appropriately and securely destroyed after the one month retention of those records 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 to help employees keep two metres distance from each other and from patrons at all times. For example, spacing of stations and visual cues. For emphasis, employees on breaks should keep two metres distance from each other.

    - Ensure that patrons are seated at all times, except while:
          - Entering the area and moving to their table
          - Placing or picking up an order
          - Paying for an order
          - Exiting the area
          - Going to or returning from a washroom
          - Lining up to do anything stated above
          - 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 by plexiglass or some other impermeable barrier.

    - Provide sufficient alcohol-based hand rub (minimum alcohol concentration of 70 per cent) 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 to if they must isolate due to symptoms of COVID-19, being tested for COVID-19, or being a contact of COVID-19.

    Sample food and drink premise patron logs

Failure to comply with these orders 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.

Learn more about the Section 22 orders


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April 12

  • Niagara Health advised it is at at 88 per cent capacity in its ICUs (53 patients, which includes 12 patients with COVID-19) and has taken a proactive measure of opening an additional three beds to increase critical care capacity to a total of 63 beds.

    Niagara Health will also postpone a number of scheduled surgeries as per provincial direction to ease pressures on capacity. Each patient will be contacted directly by their care team about their surgery. This does not include emergency and urgent surgeries. If needed, patients at Niagara Health will be transferred to another one of our sites or to another hospital that can meet their care needs. Patients will only be moved if their care team decides that it is necessary and safe to do so.

    In a statement, Lynn Guerriero, Niagara Health President and Interim CEO,  is urging people of all ages to continue following public health measures to minimize further increases in COVID-19 cases in our region and help us protect capacity for life-saving critical care and other services amid unprecedented pressures on the healthcare system.

    Read More

  • Take the Niagara Economic Rapid Response Team's final Niagara COVID-19 Business Impact Survey. Results will inform recovery and advocacy efforts.

    Please take 10 minutes to complete the survey.

    Take the Survey

  • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, has made the difficult decision to move elementary and secondary schools to remote learning following the April break. This move has been made in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 cases, the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants, and the massive spike in hospital admissions.

    Child care for non-school aged children will remain open, before and after school programs will be closed and free emergency child care for the school-aged children of eligible health care and frontline workers will be provided.

    Read More

April 9

  • Niagara Health is ramping down and postponing some surgical cases beginning on Monday, April 12, amid extreme pressure on critical care capacity across the province. This comes in response to direction from Ontario Health.

    All patients scheduled for a surgical procedure will be called directly by their care provider starting today, to confirm whether they are proceeding or having their procedure deferred. Decisions regarding urgency of each case and whether the procedure will be deferred will be made by each patient’s clinical team and will be based on individual circumstances.

    Read More

  • In response to the recent and rapid rise in hospitalizations, ICU admissions and the threat to the province's critical care capacity, the Ontario government is issuing two emergency orders under the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act (EMCPA). These orders will maximize system capacity, ensuring that hospitals have the resources required to provide care for patients and save lives.

    These temporary emergency orders will support the redeployment of health care professionals and other workers currently working in Ontario Health and Home and Community Care Support Services organizations to hospitals. They will also provide hospitals with the flexibility to transfer patients to alternate hospital sites in situations where a hospital's resources are at significant and immediate risk of becoming overwhelmed.

    These orders, along with additional measures being taken, are expected to increase ICU capacity in the province by up to 1,000 patient beds. 

    Read More

April 7

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

    Effective Thursday, April 8, 2021 at 12:01 a.m., the government is issuing a province-wide Stay-at-Home order requiring everyone to remain at home except for essential purposes, such as:
    - going to the grocery store or pharmacy,
    - accessing health care services (including getting vaccinated),
    - for outdoor exercise,
    - or for work that cannot be done remotely.

    These measures are being taken in response to the rapid increase in COVID-19 transmission, the threat on the province's hospital system capacity, and the increasing risks posed to the public by COVID-19 variants.

    As Ontario's health care capacity is threatened, the Stay-at-Home order, and other new and existing public health and workplace safety measures will work to preserve public health system capacity, safeguard vulnerable populations, allow for progress to be made with vaccinations and save lives.
    The province is strengthening public health and workplace safety measures for non-essential retail under the provincewide emergency brake. Measures include, but are not limited to:

    - Limiting the majority of non-essential retailers to only operate for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, between the hours of 7 a.m. and 8 p.m., with delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.
    - Restricting access to shopping malls to limited specified purposes, including access for curbside pick-up and delivery, via appointment, with one single designated location inside the shopping mall, and any number of designated locations outside the shopping mall, along with other restrictions;
    - Restricting discount and big box stores in-person retail sales to grocery items, pet care supplies, household cleaning supplies, pharmaceutical items, health care items, and personal care items only;
    - Permitting the following stores to operate for in-person retail by appointment only and subject to a 25 per cent capacity limit and restricting allowable hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m. with the delivery of goods to patrons permitted between 6 a.m. and 9 p.m.:
         - Safety supply stores;
         - Businesses that primarily sell, rent or repair assistive devices, aids or supplies, mobility devices, aids or supplies or medical devices, aids or supplies;
         - Rental and leasing services including automobile, commercial and light industrial machinery and equipment rental;
         - Optical stores that sell prescription eyewear to the public;
         - Businesses that sell motor vehicles, boats and other watercraft;
         - Vehicle and equipment repair and essential maintenance and vehicle and equipment rental services; and
         - Retail stores operated by a telecommunications provider or service, which may only permit members of the public to enter the premises to purchase a cellphone or for repairs or technical support.
    - Permitting outdoor garden centres and plant nurseries, and indoor greenhouses that engage in sales to the public, to operate with a 25 per cent capacity limit and a restriction on hours of operation to between 7 a.m. and 8 p.m.

    Read More

  • The Ontario Government is expected to announce a stay-at-home order as well as other measures including allowing only curbside pickup for non-essential retail will come into effect tomorrow. The announcement is expect to be at 2 p.m.

  • Those ages 60 and over can now book their COVID-19 vaccines through its online booking system and call centre

April 6

  • The Ontario government will be considering some new restrictions on the retail sector after malls were packed over the Easter weekend.

    Premier Doug Ford says he will be meeting with the Minister of Health, and Ontario's Medical Officer of Health, to discuss how to avoid large gatherings in retail settings.

    He said that going to a mall is not essential.

    Read More from 610CKTB

  • Frontline education workers, including teachers, early childhood educations, bus drivers and other working in school environments, at both the District School Board of Niagara and the Niagara Catholic District School Board, will be able to book their COVID-19 vaccine starting April 9.

  • Schools in Peel Region and Toronto will close with students shifting to online learning. Niagara school boards advise in-person learning will continue at its schools. 

April 4

  • There have now been more than 10,000 positive cases of COVID-19 in the Niagara Region. Public Health is reporting more than 8,300 total recoveries and that nearly 16 per cent of Niagara residents have received the first dose of the vaccine.

  • Dr. Homer Tien, president of Ornge , Ontario air ambulance service, will replace retired general Rick Hillier as the head of the province's vaccine distribution task force. Hillier chose not to extend his contract past its March 31 expiry.

  • Health Canada issued a recall for disposable masks that contain graphene. Manufacturers, distributors and sellers have been directed to stop selling the recalled masks. 

    People who have masks containing graphene should not wear them. Those who have used one should consult with a health care professional if issues develop, such as shortness of breath.

April 1

  • Applications for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant have been extended until April 7 and all eligible businesses are encouraged to apply.

    Apply Now

    Eligible small businesses that were required to close or significantly restrict services under Ontario’s provincewide shutdown effective December 26, 2020 can receive between $10,000 and $20,000.

    The Ontario Government also recently announced confirmed eligible recipients of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will automatically receive a second payment equal to the amount of their first payment, for a maximum total support of $40,000.

  • The Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health and other health experts, is imposing a provincewide emergency brake as a result of an alarming surge in case numbers and COVID-19 hospitalizations across the province.

    This provincewide shutdown will be effective Saturday, April 3, 2021, at 12:01 a.m. and the government intends to keep this in place for at least four weeks.

    Read More

  • New Ontario COVID-19 modelling suggestions a stay-at-home order is needed to slow the spread of the virus during the third wave, which is being driven by 'variants of concern.'

    Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce a province-wide shutdown today (April 1) at 1:30 p.m.

  • The Ontario government is providing $1.3 million in financial relief for the resource-based tourism industry by waiving certain licences and crown land use fees. Licensing fees have been waived for bear hunting and baitfish harvesters and dealers.  Additionally, Land Use Fees for Commercial Outpost Camps, Bear Management Area fees and Baitfish Harvest Area fees have been waived.

    Read More

  • Ontario is expanding access to COVID-19 vaccinations by adding an additional 350 pharmacies and more primary care settings across the province. These locations will offer the AstraZeneca vaccine to individuals aged 55 and over, with some locations to begin offering the vaccine as early as Saturday, April 3, 2021.

    St. Catharines locations include:
    - Shoppers Drug Mart - 1-387 Scott Street
    - WalMart Pharmacy - 420 Vansickle Road
    - Loblaw Pharmacy - 221 Glendale Ave

    Read More

  • While Ontario is set to announce new restrictions later today, Stephen Lecce, Ontario's education minister, stated today schools will remain open.

March 31

  • Ontario Premier Doug Ford is expected to announce a provincewide 'emergency brake' tomorrow (April 1) due to rising COVID-19 cases and increasing pressure on the hospital system.

  • Tourism St. Catharines / loveSTC have been awarded a Safe Travels Stamp by the World Travel and Tourism Council for adopting health and hygiene global standardized protocols.

    The Safe Travels Stamp is an international symbol designed to allow travelers to recognize governments and companies around the world, which have adopted health and hygiene, standardized protocols – so consumers can experience ‘Safe Travels’.

    The list of STC businesses that have also been awarded the Safe Travels Stamp continues to grow. Find the listing of our local businesses at

  • The Ontario government is partnering with the federal government, the City of Toronto and Sanofi, a leading global biopharmaceutical and vaccines company, to expand its Ontario facility to meet growing demand for flu vaccines, boost Canada's preparedness for future pandemics and create 300 high-quality jobs.

    Read More

March 30

  • Prime Minister Justine Trudeau announced that Pfizer has agreed to move a delivery of 5 million doses of its vaccine that was scheduled for later this summer to June.

  • Stephen Lecce, Ontario's education minister, stated today the spring break scheduled for the week of April 12 will go ahead as planned.

  • Niagara Region Public Health is reporting 65 new cases of COVID-19 in the the region.

  • The COVID-19 outbreak at Brock University has grown to 31 confirmed cases

  •  St. Catharines City Council approved a request for a temporary street closures in the downtown core, from May 21 to October 9 to allow businesses to expand outisde onto sidewalks and increase capacity. The closures include the following streets:
    - St. Paul Street from William Street to Carlisle Street
    - St. Paul Street from Bond Street to Court Street
    -  James Street from King Street to St. Paul Street
    Closures will take place on Fridays and Saturdays from 4 p.m. to 10 p.m.

March 29

  • The Ontario government is providing an estimated $100 million for a new one-time Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant and $100 million for a new one-time recovery program. Premier Doug Ford provided details about this investment, which is part of the 2021 Budget, Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health & Our Economy, during a stop in Niagara Falls.

    The Ontario Tourism and Hospitality Small Business Support Grant will provide an estimated $100 million in one-time payments of $10,000 to $20,000 to eligible small businesses including hotels, motels, travel agencies, amusement and water parks, hunting and fishing camps, and recreational and vacation camps including children's overnight summer camps. Businesses must demonstrate they have experienced a minimum 20 per cent revenue decline and have less than 100 employees to qualify. Any small businesses that received the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will not be eligible for this new grant.

    The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program will protect critical jobs in communities across the province and sustain for-profit tourism businesses, which have had to fully or partially shut down during the pandemic. The program will launch later this year and support tourism businesses across the province as they adjust operations to reopen safely and focus on the domestic market during the ongoing crisis. The program will support businesses as they innovate, adapt and create new tourism offerings and experiences to attract visitors from around the world when it is safe to do so.

    The Ontario Tourism Recovery Program will support established and proven tourism businesses that have been hit hardest by COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. These are key employers and tourism generators in all regions of the province, including the North. Examples of eligible businesses could include resorts, tour boat operators, amusement and water parks, northern lodges and other tourist attractions.

    Read More

  • Premier Doug Ford will be joined by Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries, and Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board, to make an announcement today in Niagara Falls.

    Read More

March 28

  • The Ontario government is extending booking for COVID-19 vaccination appointments to individuals aged 70 and over through its online booking system and call centre in 11 additional public health units, including the Niagara Region and St. Catharines

    The expansion comes into effect on March 29, 2021.

    Read More

March 26

  • The Ontario government is providing additional support to eligible small businesses to help with the ongoing costs of the COVID-19 pandemic. Confirmed eligible recipients of the Ontario Small Business Support Grant will automatically receive a second payment equal to the amount of their first payment, for minimum total support of $20,000 up to a maximum of $40,000.

    Applications for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant close on Wednesday, March 31, 2021.

    Apply Now

  • To support the recovery and sustainability of Ontario’s wine and agri‑tourism industry, earlier this week the Ontario Government announced its support strategy for tourism, hospitality, culture and sports as part of the 2021 Ontario Budget.

    The action plan includes support for local alcohol producers, such as:

    - A one‑time $10 million grant in 2021 to help wineries and cideries impacted by lockdown measures, and help ensure that agricultural production and local jobs are maintained in Ontario’s rural communities.

    - Increasing funding for the Small Distillery Support Program by an additional $1.2 million in 2021–22 to help small distillers recover from the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic.

    - Extending the funding to 2022–23 for the following programs:

         • VQA Wine Support Program ($7.5 million);

         • Small Cidery ($1.8 million) and Small Distillery Support Programs ($0.8 million); and

          • Marketing, Tourism and Export Development; Performance Measurement and Research and Innovation Development Initiatives ($5.3 million).

    - The government will also permit the sale of Ontario beer at farmers’ markets for the upcoming season.

    Read more about the next steps to defeat COVID‑19 the Ontario Government has outlined in the 2021 budget.

March 24

  • Today, Minister of Finance and President of the Treasury Board Peter Bethlenfalvy released Ontario's Action Plan: Protecting People's Health and Our Economy. The 2021 Budget is the next phase of Ontario's response to COVID-19. Protecting the economy is the second pillar of the 2021 Budget. It outlines Ontario's plan to support families, workers and employers. Some highlights include:
    - a second round of Ontario Small Business Support Grant payments to eligible recipients. Approximately 120,000 small businesses will automatically benefit from an additional $1.7 billion in relief through this second round of support in the form of grants of a minimum of $10,000 and up to $20,000.
    - To support Ontario's tourism, hospitality and culture industries that have been among the most heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, Ontario is investing an additional $400 million over the next three years in new initiatives to support these sectors.

    Read More

March 23

  • The Ontario government is investing $3.7 million as part of the 2021 Budget to help seniors and people with disabilities get their COVID-19 vaccinations, where transportation is a barrier. The Province is launching this initiative to remove that barrier and ensure that anyone who wants a vaccine is able to get a vaccine.

    Read More

March 19

  • To support the province's economic recovery, today the Ontario Government is cautiously adjusting dining capacity limits at restaurants, bars and other food and drink establishments, for regions in the Grey-Lockdown, Red-Control and Orange-Restrict levels of the Framework, effective Saturday, March 20, 2021 at 12:01 a.m.

    The Niagara Region, including St. Catharines, is currently in Red-Control level of the Keeping Ontario Safe and Open Framework.

    For regions in the Red-Control levels, such as Niagara and St. Catharines, capacity limits for indoor dining will be adjusted and based on a standard, scalable calculation that will allow for up to approximately 50 per cent of the indoor dining area to be accessible to the public, subject to physical distancing rules. The total occupancy cannot exceed 50 patrons in Red-Control.

    To ensure the continued safety of patrons and workers, public health and safety measures in indoor and outdoor settings would be strengthened in the Orange-Restrict, Red-Control and Grey-Lockdown levels in the Framework. These measures include, but are not limited to:

    - Limiting tables for indoor dining to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; 
    - Limiting tables for outdoor dining in Grey-Lockdown to members of the same household with exemptions for patrons who live alone and caregivers; and 
    - A sign posted by the establishment in a location visible to the public that states the maximum capacity (number of patrons) they are permitted to operate under.

    Read More

  • As vaccines begin to roll out more steadily, the Ontario’s Big City Mayors (OBCM) caucus is calling for the federal and provincial governments to work together to develop a flexible plan to re-open that supports small business, increases well-being, and allows for a gradual return to normalcy.

    OBCM recognizes the importance of public health measures in keeping Ontarians safe throughout the pandemic and is grateful for the supports from the Federal and Provincial governments thus far. As we mark the one-year anniversary of the pandemic, it is time to take stock and rethink our approach to public health restrictions so that small business owners can rebuild their businesses.

    Read More

  • The Ontario government is providing $106.4 million to help publicly assisted colleges and universities address the financial impacts of COVID-19.

    The funding will provide immediate and targeted support for postsecondary institutions that are most affected by decreases in tuition and ancillary revenues and have incurred expenses associated with online learning, personal protective equipment and enhanced cleaning. Institutions can also use the funding in 2020-21 to offset COVID-19 expenses related to student financial supports and human resources.

    Read More

  • With more than 50 per cent of Ontario residents aged 80 and over having received at least one dose of the COVID-19 vaccine, the Ontario government is expanding appointments through its online booking system to individuals aged 75 and over, effective Monday, March 22, ahead of schedule.

    Ontario is leading the country in the total number of vaccines administered and has fully immunized more individuals than all provinces and territories combined. To date, over 1.4 million doses of COVID-19 vaccines have been administered across the province, including over 129,000 doses administered to long-term care home residents. Over 294,000 Ontarians are fully immunized, including over 61,000 long term-care home residents.

    As of March 22, 2021, participating pharmacies and primary care settings will offer vaccination appointments to individuals aged 60 and over. Eligible Ontarians can contact a participating pharmacy directly to make an appointment. In addition, many primary care providers are directly contacting eligible patients to book an appointment.

    Read More

March 18

  • The Ontario government is extending temporary wage enhancements for personal support workers and direct support workers in publicly funded home and community care, long-term care, public hospitals, and social services sectors. These temporary wage enhancements will continue until June 30, 2021 and will help stabilize, attract and retain the workforce needed to provide a high level of care, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Read More

  • The Ontario government is investing more than $12 million in a new initiative to detect COVID-19 in wastewater. The province is partnering with 13 academic and research institutions to create a surveillance network to test wastewater samples taken from communities across Ontario. This will enhance the ability of local public health units to identify, monitor and manage potential COVID-19 outbreaks.

    Read More

  • The Ontario government is investing $933 million in 80 new long-term care projects, which will lead to thousands of additional new and upgraded long-term care spaces across the province. Today's announcement moves the government a step closer to fulfilling its commitment to add 30,000 much-needed long-term care spaces over ten years.

    Read More

  • The Ontario government is expanding the Ontario Student Assistance Program (OSAP) to include nearly 600 micro-credential programs. Through this initiative, the province is ensuring loans and grants will be available to more learners looking to rapidly upskill and reskill for the in-demand jobs of today and tomorrow.

    Micro-credentials are rapid training programs that help people retrain and upgrade their skills to find new employment. Offered by colleges, universities and Indigenous Institutes, micro-credential programs are short in duration, can be completed online, and are often designed for the specific needs of employers and jobs. OSAP-approved micro-credential programs include artificial intelligence, biometrics, software quality assurance and testing. Courses are also available in areas such as healthcare, including specialties in pediatrics and digital process automation.

    Read More

March 17

  • The Ontario government announces it is seeing a greater number of small businesses across the province complying with COVID-19 safety requirements. During follow-up visits for educational workplace safety campaigns, provincial offences officers found that approximately 73 per cent of businesses were in compliance with public health measures and compliance increased by 20 per cent.

    Businesses can access free training and assistance, including the workplace safety plan toolkit, live webinars on how to operate a business safely and comply with COVID-19 health and safety requirements, and a 30-minute online course on infection prevention and control provided by the Public Services Health and Safety Association.

    Assistance and support for small businesses is available from the Provincial Employment Standards Information Centre and Occupational Health and Safety Contact Centre.

    Workplace COVID-19 safety fact sheets, guides and posters are available at These include multilingual tip sheets for employers.

    Read More

  • The Ontario government is providing more than $15 million to support grassroots activities, sport and recreation organizations and high-performance athletes. This funding will encourage even more children, youth, families and athletes to get active and return to play safely, as the sector continues to follow COVID-19 restrictions and reopening regulations. Initiatives supported by the funding include:

    - $3 million in 2020-21 for SPORT4ONTARIO to deliver a pilot program that helps kids and families regain confidence in sport and recreation activities. The program will support grassroots physical activity and recreation programming. It will promote mental wellness and safety in sport that is free from harassment, abuse and discrimination.

    - $2.35 million for the Ontario Hockey League (OHL)'s post-secondary education scholarships for athletes on 17 Ontario-based teams. This investment provides approximately $138,000 to each of the 17 teams to help them meet their player scholarship commitments.

    Read More

March 16

  • More than 9,000 residents 80 years old and over from across Niagara have booked COVID-19 vaccination appointments through Ontario's portal since it opened on March 15. Premier Doug Ford says more than 71,000 people across Ontario have registered for vaccines over the first two days.

  • Health experts in Ontario, including the Ontario Hospital Association, are advising the third wave of the pandemic has begun.

  • SUPPORT FOR BUSINESS: Apply to the Regional Relief and Recovery Fund today if your business has not been able to access pandemic financial support programs. Up to $60,000 is available to eligible businesses.

    Target businesses include main street type businesses, tourism businesses and sole proprietorships.  

    Applications will be accepted until March 22.

    Learn More and Apply

  • Canada’s National Advisory Committee on Immunization has updated its recommendations regarding the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine to include its use for those 65 years old and older.

    Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has also offered reassurances  the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine is both safe and effective as a number of European countries are suspending its use due to safety concerns.

March 15

  • Seniors 80 years old and older can begin booking their COVID-19 vaccinations today. Visit or by phone at 1.888.999.6488. Residents can book appointments in any of the 11 vaccination locations in Niagara. Brock University has been chosen as the vaccination location in St. Catharines.

March 11

  • On this day one year ago the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Today marks the National Day of Observance for COVID-19 and the City of St. Catharines will lower its flags to half-mast from March 11-15 to reflect the one-year anniversary of the first case of COVID-19 in Niagara.

    Canada has lost more than 22,000 lives to COVID-19, including more than 7,000 Ontarians. In Niagara, 369 loved ones have been tragically lost to this deadly virus.

    Over the past year, more than 8,200 people in Niagara have recovered from COVID-19 and, to date, four vaccines have been approved by Health Canada. Already, nearly 600,000 Canadians have been fully vaccinated. One million doses have been administered in Ontario. In Niagara 12,000 doses of the COVID-19 vaccine have been administered and the region is set to begin vaccinating the over-85 population next week.

    The pandemic has had a devastating effect on individuals, families and businesses. Both government financial supports for businesses and wellness supports  continue to be available for those who need them. TeamSTC recognizes everyone who has been affected by the COVID-19, how we've supported each other and continue to do so as we work our way through this crisis together.

March 10

  • The District School Board of Niagara has sent a letter home to parents announcing it intends to welcome students back to its schools for in-person learning and ending its remote learning program.

  • The Ontario government has established a new Tourism Economic Recovery Ministerial Task Force, chaired by former MPP and Cabinet minister Tim Hudak, to offer expert advice and recommendations on how to help the province's $36-billion tourism industry recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

    The mandate of the voluntary task force includes providing strategies and advice that will help position Ontario and its local communities as destinations of choice for travel, as well as identifying products and experiences that enhance destination development. It will also offer a forum for sector partners and leaders to share ideas, collaborate, and provide advice and information to the minister on approaches to support the economic recovery of Ontario's tourism industry. The tourism sector supports more than 400,000 jobs provincewide.

    Read More

March 8

  • Destination Canada released new research and analysis that uncovers the scope of the impact to the tourism sector from COVID-19. The visitor economy saw unprecedented losses in 2020 and tourism continues to be by far the most threatened sector in the Canadian economy due to its service nature and current reliance on foreign tourists.

    One in every 10 Canadian jobs is tied to tourism and the current struggle faced by the visitor economy creates a ripple effect across the entire job market, impacting the quality of life and well-being of all Canadians. If Canadians shift two-thirds of their planned spend on international leisure travel towards domestic tourism, it will make up for the estimated $19 billion shortfall currently facing our visitor economy, help sustain 150,000 jobs and accelerate recovery by one year.

    Read the Report

  • The Government of Canada is designating March 11, 2021, as a National Day of Observance to commemorate the people who lost their lives and the significant impacts we have all felt because of COVID-19.

March 5

  • The Ontario government is preparing to move into Phase Two of its COVID-19 vaccine distribution plan next month, with a focus on vaccinating populations based on age and risk.

    With vaccine supply stabilizing and over two million doses of the COVID-19 vaccine expected from the federal government before the end of March, the province to enter Phase Two of its vaccine rollout. Between April 2021 and July 2021, up to nine million Ontarians will be vaccinated.

    During Phase Two, groups that will receive the vaccine include:
    - Older adults between 60-79 years of age;
    - Individuals with specific health conditions and some primary caregivers;
    - People who live and work in congregate settings and some primary caregivers;
    - People who live in hot spots with high rates of death, hospitalizations and transmission; and,
    - Certain workers who cannot work from home.

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  • Health Canada has approved Johnson & Johnson's single dose COVID-19 vaccine.

March 4

  • The Ontario Government announced this morning it is providing an additional $500 million in relief funding for municipalities to addres address ongoing COVID-19 operating costs.

    Read More

March 3

  • Niagara Region Public Health is preparing to rollout of large-scale vaccination later this month.  With vaccination supply increasing later this month and the AstraZeneca vaccine now approved as a third vaccine in Canada, Public Health has plans ready to deliver vaccine on a large scale to protect the Niagara community as soon as vaccine has arrived.

    Read More

March 2

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

    Read More

March 1

  • Niagara Region Public Health is reporting 17 cases of COVID-19 variants in the region.

  • Niagara Region, including St. Catharines, moves into the Red - Control Zone today (March 1) with new public health measures coming into effect for STC businesses.

Feb. 28

  • Niagara Region Public Health has received a number of reports of a phone scam in the area about the COVID-19 vaccine. Public Health advises it is not calling residents to schedule vaccine appointments at this time, and will never ask for payment for COVID-19 immunization. If you receive a call like this, Public Health advises to hang up immediately and do not provide any personal information such as your health card or credit card number. If you receive this type of call you are encouraged to file a report with the Niagara Regional Police if there is an element of financial loss.

    Read More

Support for Businesses

St. Catharines Rapid Response Team

Business Resources


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

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.


City of St. Catharines
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