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COVID-19 Resources for Businesses

Posted in News & Updates

Updates

Support for Businesses

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St. Catharines Rapid Response Team

Business Resources

Contacts

Updates

Jan. 20

With key public health and health care indicators starting to show signs of improvement, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, today released details of steps to cautiously and gradually ease public health measures, starting on January 31, 2022.

Effective January 31, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. Ontario will begin the process of gradually easing restrictions, while maintaining protective measures, including but not limited to:

  • Increasing social gathering limits to 10 people indoors and 25 people outdoors.
  • Increasing or maintaining capacity limits at 50 per cent in indoor public settings, including but not limited to:
    • Restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments without dance facilities;
    • Retailers (including grocery stores and pharmacies);
    • Shopping malls;
    • Non-spectator areas of sports and recreational fitness facilities, including gyms;
    • Cinemas;
    • Meeting and event spaces;
    • Recreational amenities and amusement parks, including water parks;
    • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos and similar attractions;
    • Casinos, bingo halls and other gaming establishments;
    • Religious services, rites, or ceremonies.
  • Allowing spectator areas of facilities such as sporting events, concert venues and theatres to operate at 50 per cent seated capacity or 500 people, whichever is less.

Enhanced proof of vaccination, and other requirements would continue to apply in existing settings.

In the absence of concerning trends in public health and health care indicators, Ontario will follow a cautious and phased approach to lifting public health measures, with 21 days between each step.

Read More


Online applications for the Ontario Business Cost Rebate Program opened  January 18.

Eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity will receive rebate payments for a portion of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to these measures.
- Eligible businesses required to reduce capacity to 50 per cent, such as smaller retail stores, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 50 per cent of their costs/
- Businesses required to close for indoor activities, such as restaurants and gyms, will receive a rebate payment equivalent to 100 per cent of their costs.


Payments to eligible businesses will be retroactive to December 19, 2021 when recent public health measures first came into effect.

Learn More and Apply


Jan. 7

As part of a comprehensive plan to support workers and businesses, the government is announcing an Ontario COVID-19 Small Business Relief Grant for small businesses that are subject to closure under the modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen. It will provide eligible small businesses with a grant payment of $10,000.

Eligible small businesses include:

  • Restaurants and bars;
  • Facilities for indoor sports and recreational fitness activities (including fitness centres and gyms);
  • Performing arts and cinemas;
  • Museums, galleries, aquariums, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions;
  • Meeting or event spaces;
  • Tour and guide services;
  • Conference centres and convention centres;
  • Driving instruction for individuals; and
  • Before- and after- school programs.

Eligible businesses that qualified for the Ontario Small Business Support Grant and that are subject to closure under modified Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen will be pre-screened to verify eligibility and will not need to apply to the new program.

Newly established and newly eligible small businesses will need to apply once the application portal opens in the coming weeks. Small businesses that qualify can expect to receive their payment in February.

Read More


The Ontario government is also providing electricity-rate relief to support small businesses, as well as workers and families spending more time at home while the province is in Modified Step Two.

For 21 days starting at 12:01 am on Tuesday, January 18, 2022, electricity prices will be set 24 hours a day at the current off-peak rate of 8.2 cents per kilowatt-hour, which is less than half the cost of the current on-peak rate.

The off-peak rate will apply automatically to residential, small businesses and farms who pay regulated rates set by the Ontario Energy Board and get a bill from a utility and will benefit customers on both Time-of-Use and Tiered rate plans.


Online applications for the previously-announced Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program will open on January 18.

This program will provide eligible businesses that are required to close or reduce capacity with rebate payments for up to 100 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to public health measures in response to the Omicron variant.

Application Portal


Applications are open for the Reconnect Ontario 2022 program for eligible festivals and events taking place between April 1, 2022, and March 31, 2023. 

The Reconnect Ontario program supports festivals and events that have a tourism economic impact and motivate visitors to rediscover Ontario, reconnect people with local experiences and generate increased tourism spending. 

For information on the program, please see the Reconnect Ontario Application Guide.

Apply Now


The City of St. Catharines has announced the downtown and Merritton neighbourhoods will be participating in the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator program to help revitalize main streets.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Government of Canada, through the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario), announced a $23.25-million investment to the Canadian Urban Institute (CUI) and the Economic Developers Council of Ontario (EDCO) to establish My Main Street — a two-year program to support the recovery and revitalization of main streets and local businesses in southern Ontario through two program streams.

EDCO is delivering the My Main Street Local Business Accelerator program stream, which supports the revitalization of 65 main street communities, and provides non-repayable contributions for more than 650 local businesses across southern Ontario. The City of St. Catharines’ Economic Development and Tourism Services department will administer the program locally with the support of the EDCO.

The downtown and Merritton main street communities in St. Catharines will be supported with a dedicated main street ambassador, customized market research, data analysis and non-repayable funding contributions for new and existing small businesses.

Learn More


Jan. 3

In response to recent trends that show an alarming increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations, the Ontario government, in consultation with the Chief Medical Officer of Health, is temporarily moving the province into Step Two of its Roadmap to Reopen with modifications that take into account the province’s successful vaccination efforts. These time-limited measures will help blunt transmission and prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed as the province continues to accelerate its booster dose rollout.

In response, the province will return to the modified version of Step Two of the Roadmap to Reopen effective Wednesday, January 5, 2022 at 12:01 a.m. for at least 21 days (until January 26, 2022), subject to trends in public health and health system indicators. These measures include:

  • Reducing social gathering limits to five people indoors and 10 people outdoors.
  • Limiting capacity at organized public events to five people indoors.
  • Requiring businesses and organizations to ensure employees work remotely unless the nature of their work requires them to be on-site.
  • Limiting capacity at indoor weddings, funerals, and religious services, rites and ceremonies to 50 per cent capacity of the particular room. Outdoor services are limited to the number of people that can maintain 2 metres of physical distance. Social gatherings associated with these services must adhere to the social gathering limits.
  • Retail settings, including shopping malls, permitted at 50 per cent capacity. For shopping malls physical distancing will be required in line-ups, loitering will not be permitted and food courts will be required to close.
  • Personal care services permitted at 50 per cent capacity and other restrictions. Saunas, steam rooms, and oxygen bars closed.
  • Closing indoor meeting and event spaces with limited exceptions but permitting outdoor spaces to remain open with restrictions.
  • Closing indoor dining at restaurants, bars and other food or drink establishments. Outdoor dining with restrictions, takeout, drive through and delivery is permitted.
  • Restricting the sale of alcohol after 10 p.m. and the consumption of alcohol on-premise in businesses or settings after 11 p.m. with delivery and takeout, grocery/convenience stores and other liquor stores exempted.
  • Closing indoor concert venues, theatres, cinemas, rehearsals and recorded performances permitted with restrictions.
  • Closing museums, galleries, zoos, science centres, landmarks, historic sites, botanical gardens and similar attractions, amusement parks and waterparks, tour and guide services and fairs, rural exhibitions, and festivals. Outdoor establishments permitted to open with restrictions and with spectator occupancy, where applicable, limited to 50 per cent capacity.
  • Closing indoor sport and recreational fitness facilities including gyms, except for athletes training for the Olympics and Paralympics and select professional and elite amateur sport leagues. Outdoor facilities are permitted to operate but with the number of spectators not to exceed 50 per cent occupancy and other requirements.

Business who have questions about public health and workplace safety measures can call the Stop the Spread Business Information Line at
1-888.444.3659.

Read More


The Ontario government is introducing new supports for many of the businesses that are most impacted by public health measures in response to the Omicron variant, including a new Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program and a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes.

Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program
Eligible businesses will receive rebate payments equivalent to 50 per cent of the property tax and energy costs they incur while subject to the current capacity limits. This will provide support to businesses that are expected to be most impacted financially by the requirement to reduce capacity to 50 per cent. Examples of businesses that will be eligible for the Ontario Business Costs Rebate Program include

  • restaurants
  • smaller retail stores
  • and gyms.

A full list of eligible business types will be made available through a program guide in mid-January 2022.

Online applications for this program will open in mid-January 2022, with payments to eligible businesses provided retroactive to December 19, 2021. Businesses will be required to submit property tax and energy bills as part of the application process.

Six-month interest- and penalty-free period
The province is also providing additional support to help improve cash flows for Ontario businesses by providing a six-month interest- and penalty-free period to make payments for most provincially administered taxes, supporting businesses in the immediate term while capacity restrictions are in place while providing the flexibility Ontario businesses will need for long-term planning.

The six-month period will begin January 1, 2022 and end July 1, 2022 and will offer approximately 80,000 businesses the option to delay payments for the following provincially administered taxes:

  • Employer Health Tax
  • Beer, Wine & Spirits Taxes
  • Tobacco Tax
  • Insurance Premium Tax
  • Fuel Tax
  • International Fuel Tax Agreement
  • Gas Tax
  • Retail Sales Tax on Insurance Contracts & Benefit Plans
  • Mining Tax
  • Race Tracks Tax

Read 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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